Pensacola Magazine

Mahabhuta Yoga Festival

When asked about how the Mahabhuta form of yoga stands out from other styles like Hatha and Bikram, Stacey Vann was quick to set the record straight.

“Mahabhuta isn’t a form,” she said, clarifying that Mahabhuta yoga is more than just a physical variation of the practice.

Mahabhuta is actually known as “The Great Element,” which is physically present in five different elements: fire, water, earth, wind and ether, and acts as the space where everything exists and acts. What sounds like a grouping of names best fit for a fantasy novel or a 70s Motown band is really a unifying ideology for the third annual Mahabhuta Yoga Festival. The festival, which will run Nov. 21-23 at the Sanders Beach Community Center, will bring together many yogis (yoga practitioners), teachers and curious individuals to practice various styles of yoga at all levels. The price for a three-day pass is $270 while a one-day ticket is $135 for Friday or Sunday only. Festival volunteers get an admission ticket for $100. Vann is the festival’s founder and the owner of Breathe Yoga & Wellness Center. Since there are many yoga festivals taking place around the country, she wanted to create an event of her own and establish connections in the regional yoga community.

“It was more just inspiration, kind of when you just allow things to unfold,” Vann said.

This year, the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival takes place during the Year of the Wood Horse, which, referring to the Chinese calendar, runs from January this year to next February. The horse cycle is the seventh earthly branch in Chinese medicine, symbolizes June as the fifth lunar month, and the horse year is said to be one of extremes and fluctuation, according to the festival website. The previous events have celebrated the years of the Water Snake and the Water Dragon. Several guest presenters and instructors will be heading up workshops and classes during the festival such as Vani Kindrell, Rebecca Sathre, Aaron Lind and Surdas and Vajra Yogini. Their classes will encompass the physical, mental and emotional benefits of Kundalini yoga, Vedic-Thai yoga, and AcroYoga, among other types and topics. Classes in aerial and slackline yoga, which utilize hammocks and slack tubing to help people achieve and refine yoga posture and poses, will also be available.

Vann will lead the seminar “Kundalini Yoga: A Way Through Every Block to Manifest Your Destiny & Harness Your Dreams” Nov. 21 with Vani Kindrell.

In addition to physical exercise and meditation, music is an important part of the yoga experience, and the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival will feature plenty of quality musicians. Four-time Grammy nominee Michael Brant DeMaria will perform Nov. 21 on the Horse Stage, and Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band will play their dynamic kirtan tunes on Nov. 21 and 22. DeMaria and Johnson will also be leading yoga seminars and are probably the most anticipated guests this year, Vann said. Wah! will also be hosting a healing concert at Sanders Beach on Nov. 22 and will lead her Wah! Healing Sound Workshop during the festival.

“The Healing Concert is an evening immersion into Wah!’s beautiful, meditative music with calming Blisslights,” the artist’s webpage said. “It is an invitation to access deep relaxation, natural healing and rejuvenation.”