The Vineyard is a place of healing. It’s a community of healers, with acupuncturists, chiropractors and other alternative medicine practitioners, where yoga practice is a mainstay in many people’s lives. In yoga they say wherever you are is perfect, whether you’re halfway up in downward dog or halfway down in eagle pose, but sometimes half the battle can be getting to that pose among the overwhelming number of yoga options available here.
Next weekend the second annual Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival is designed to help Islanders and visitors find their healing community. Over three days, the festival will offer an array of yoga styles, massage, communal acupuncture, chanting and forums on well-being.
Classes will be taught at the Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark and the Chilmark Community Center and include sessions from world renowned New York city teachers Kelly Morris, Kristin Leigh and Barbara Verrochi, as well as Vineyard favorites Meghan Greenan, Jane Norton, Vanessa Kent, Sian Williams, Bonnie Menton, Sherry and Robert Sidoti and Claire Parkhurst.
Teacher and coorganizer Mollie Doyle said this week the festival is meant for people to stretch beyond their yoga comfort zone – whether that is hot yoga, Yoga Barn or Yoga Collective classes – and embrace a “nondenominational” weekend.
“It doesn’t matter if you can do handstands or not. It’s just about coming together and celebrating this magical thing that matters so much to me and matters so much to so many people in this community,” said Ms. Doyle, sitting outside of Island Cohousing in West Tisbury after her Tuesday morning class with co-organizer and fellow teacher Kathy Bega.
Yoga classes throughout the day will be surrounded by lectures, food and clothing trunk shows. Anusara, power yoga, master classes, Vinyasa, slow flow yoga, prop workshop, parents and kids class and even a chanting workshop will be offered throughout the weekend.
Guest teachers Kelly Morris (one of five senior Jivamukti instructors in the world and a kind of teacher to the stars), Barbara Verocchi and Kristen Leigh will help any nonbeliever find their kirtan voice.
“Everybody is really freaked out about chanting, but Kelly’s really funny,” Ms. Doyle said. “One of her students is Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, and she has such a nice voice that he’s recorded her.
“It’s more about another way of coming together and hanging out and having fun,” she said.
A trunk show of yoga clothing by Hyde Yoga and Yoga Mat Clothing at the Beach Plum on Friday night will feature clothing that Ms. Doyle said “looks good on everybody” and “is beautifully cut.”
But the festival is not all about fitting into the perfect yoga wear or pose; it also will encompass alternative medicine.
Ms. Doyle moved to the Vineyard a few years ago from New York city, where she was a ghostwriter for celebrities, doctors and alternative healers, and she was surprised by the quality of care available here.
“There’s just such an amazing group of alternative practitioners,” she said. “I was working for the best of the best, and the people here are better. They know their stuff and they’re really healers.”
On Saturday Kathleen Vincent will be holding a two-hour communal acupuncture class where up to 15 people can be worked on at a time. Instead of treating specific ailments, it’s more of a meditative therapy as Ms. Doyle described it.
“Communal acupuncture is much more about a couple of points and chilling out,” Ms. Doyle said.
Whether it’s through Broga (yoga for men specifically), restorative yoga, massage or acupuncture, Ms. Doyle and Ms. Bega said Vineyarders should expect to get more than just their fix of Zen.
“Everybody here who [takes] a Barbara, Kirsten, Kelly class will get a new experience in yoga,” Ms. Bega said. “All the people who are coming out here, who are just coming to the Yoga Barn to visit, maybe they’ll try something else, a new experience and a new teacher.”
Ms. Doyle agreed, munching on a piece of dried mango, adding it will be a weekend of discovery.
“People who have never been to Sherry’s class because ‘I hear it’s going to kick my butt,’ they may find they can do it and they really respond to her,” she said. “People who say, ‘I only like power yoga,’ they might go to a restorative class and go, ‘Wow, that was so cool,’ or somebody who’s been terrified of acupuncture but 42 people have told them that it will help them with sciatica can sit with a friend and just have it be a safer way to experience that.
“A lot of people see Martha’s Vineyard as a beach destination,” she said, “but there’s another layer of health and healing . . . We are so rich, I cannot believe the resources we have.”
The Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival runs Oct. 7 to 9. Weekend, day, half-day and individual class passes are available. Volunteers can attend classes for free. For a full listing of festival events visit mvyogafestival.com.