Sedona Yoga Festival and adventures

Hi friends! How’s your day going? Hope you’re having a lovely afternoon! I taught BODYPUMP this am, took Livi to her gymnastics class, and we made a fun dessert together. 🙂

I’m still feeling pretty glorious after this weekend’s yoga adventures, and I thought I’d write a recap post with the sessions I attended at the Sedona Yoga Festival and my main learning points. I love reading posts like this if I’m considering attending a conference or event, so hopefully my fellow yoga-loving friends will enjoy it! 

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Yoga Photogaphy with Robert Sturman. Robert Sturman is a stunning photographer with an impressive biography. He’s photographed yogis all over the world: CEOs on Wall Street, men and women in prisons, yogis in India, Cuba, Europe, Africa, from children, to those in their 90s. He went over a series of his images, and told us why he chose to photograph them the way he did, thoroughly describing the setup and composition. He places a huge emphasis on “getting low,” particularly for arm balance poses, and the importance of space between the limbs. As someone who is always looking to improve photography, I was really thankful for to learn from him. You can check out some of his stunning work here. After the session, we went out into the forest in groups of three to take photos of each other.  

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I love that he stressed the importance of spirit in the photos. He said a simple hero pose or warrior can be just as impressive and beautiful as an intricate handstand if the heart is there. I also loved that he said that it’s the photographer and not the camera or technology. Some of his breathtaking images were taken via phone, and many of them were created using Polaroids, which he would manually manipulate before developing (pre-Photoshop days). It encouraged me to continue to work on my photography, particularly life and fitness photos, and was worth the conference trip alone.  

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(That’s Laura Skykora. I asked for her Instagram name so I could tag her in this pic, and she has over a million followers. Allow me to crawl out from the rock I live under haha.)

GET LIT: A meditative vinyasa flow with Becca Pati. I knew I was going to love this class when Becca walked around the room to introduce herself to everyone. I think this is a special touch that instructors can add, especially if they’re leading a special class or workshop, as an opportunity to connect with each person individually. She has these dark and gorgeous eyes, and hugged me warmly before asking how I was feeling that day. I told it’s been a while since I’d practiced yoga consistently, and I was excited to get back into it. 

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She started the session by describing the lower body pain she had suffered from, to the extreme that she had difficulty walking and making it through the day. She was passed from doctor to doctor, for months, and when she found out that a specialist would not be able to see her, she cried her heart out, worried that she would die without knowing what was causing her pain. After a 300-hour meditation certification, she determined the cause: stress. She was suffering from extreme stress caused by work, relationships and habits. 

The major takeaway from this session: do not become attached to the things you can’t control. It’s not “not caring,” but instead, realize the thoughts that unnecessarily drain your energy, and let them go. This is something that I’ve been working towards, especially over the past few years. If you can’t control it, the only thing worrying will do is cause stress. While a healthy amount of stress can be a good thing, too much can cause negative physical effects.

The Power of Om with Saul David Raye. I had the opportunity to practice with Saul at Yoga Journal, and his session set my soul free. The YJ session included live music with a meditation, which I was secretly hoping what this would be. This session was a great yoga lesson to go in without expectation, because it was entirely different yet equally wonderful. He taught us about the history and meaning of “om,” including how to properly chant the three syllables. He spoke quite a bit about energy, and while chanting “om,” we start low, in our root chakra, and the vibrations extend up and out through our crown chakra. As we inhale, we bring the energy back in to repeat. He also talked for a while about the universe and how we’re all connected, which I found particularly beautiful. (It may be a little woo-woo for some, but I live for this ish.) We also chanted, in a sea of “om,” for 20 minutes. (He told us how long we’d be doing it.) I’ve never “om”-ed that much in my life, and I was surprised by how centered, peaceful and energized I felt after the class.

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Bad-ASSana Bhakti Flow with Tymi Howard. While I was in Orlando for a short amount of time, and working at lululemon, all of my lulu friends would RAVE about Tymi’s classes. She taught a little far away from me, so I didn’t get the opportunity to practice with her, and have been wanting to for quite some time. It was worth the wait! This was my last session for the conference, and it was such a great way to end it. Tymi had a live DJ, who played awesome beats, and led us through a two-hour flow class, which was the perfect mix of stretchy and workout. She included opportunities to progress or play with the asanas, and had such a playful and lovely energy about her. She is also a former ballerina, so everything flowed together gloriously. (Also, her personal practice is INSANE. I could watch her do yoga for hours.) When class was over, my friends and I were in a pool of sweat on our mats with Zen-ed out smiles on our faces. If I still lived close-ish, I would certainly make the drive to her classes. She owns Guruv yoga, if you’re in Central Florida and want to check it out! I promise you will not be disappointed. 

In between sessions and hotel/spa events, I also got a chance to do a little exploring. Close to the hotel is an artisan village called Tlaquepaque. I was intrigued by the Spanish-style buildings, and since it was walking distance, I decided to go check it out! On the way there, I wandered into a New Age Healing Center to scope out the crystals and the Buddhas.

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Then, I made my way to Tlaquepaque. I always enjoy checking out locally-made goods when I travel, and this shopping complex was filled with rugs, art, galleries, boutiques, shops with handmade goods, and restaurants. I got some Irish whiskey for the Pilot, and some basil-infused olive oil. (I was also horrified that said whiskey and olive oil would explode in my suitcase, but they arrived unscathed.)


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I texted the Pilot to see if I could take this home with me. 

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During the conference, I stayed at L’Auberge de Sedona, an exquisite hotel nestled along the creek. I have a recap coming up with some of the events we enjoyed, including making our own body scrub and the food (ohhhhh the food).

For now, it’s time to get ready for spin!

Have a great night. 



*A very special thank you to Sedona Yoga Festival for providing my festival attendance, and to L’Auberge de Sedona for hosting my stay. <3

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  1. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on February 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    What an awesome festival! I am heading to Sedona for a wedding in May! Can’t wait to be amongst the red rocks again. Love it there.

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      it was my first time, and i was BLOWN AWAY

  2. Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out on February 9, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    What an awesome experience!! Looks great 🙂

  3. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on February 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I’m intrigued by your “om” session. I am SO uncomfortable during the “om” portions, so I’d love to know more about how that sound is supposed to come from your body. I attended a one-day yoga conference recently and would love to go to another. Looks like you had an incredible time in a beautiful place. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Emily on February 9, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Great recap. Also: SOLI BEAT. Came in the mail today, did it, it ROCKED MY WORLD. The energy is incredible! The music!! I had such a blast and I had to stop by here and tell you how magnificent you are Gina!! Keep shining. <3

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      ahhhh! that makes me so happy! i’m so so glad you liked it 🙂

  5. Chrissy @Pink Polish and Running Shoes on February 9, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Sounds like an awesome trip. I love hearing about the different yoga sessions. The location looks beautiful!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      thank you! yes, it was gorgeous!

  6. Crystal on February 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I love yoga, and it’s a constant journey for me. I looked at some of those photographer’s photos and it reminded me of one of the reasons I love yoga: it can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere. So amazing. Loved the recap!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      i love that, too. yoga looks different for everyone, and can be beneficial for everyone 🙂

  7. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on February 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    What a great festival! I have only been to Sedona once, but it was gorgeous! Looks like you had an amazing time.

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      thank you! yes, sedona is beautiful! can’t wait to go back 🙂

  8. Mary on February 9, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I have been debating about going to the Minneapolis Yoga Conference this spring. I would love to try all the different variations.

  9. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on February 9, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I loved the part about letting go. I need that. Now if only I knew how. I suppose that’s the challenge for all of us.

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      i totally agree. you can hear it often, but you have to be the one to turn that mental switch to the off position 🙂 i’ve something i’ve been working on for a long time

  10. kristin | W [ H ] A T C H on February 9, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    i bet sedona is such a magic place to do yoga.

  11. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on February 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Wow what an incredible trip!! I love that picture of you in the woods doing a yoga post! You look great!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      thank you, friend!

  12. Britt@MyOwnBalance on February 9, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    This conference sounds so cool! I love the photography tips! Laura’s instagram is insane! I definitely need to work on my stress levels. It is really challenging to maintain a healthy mind and attitude.

  13. kayla on February 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Sounds like such an amazing event!

    My family and I loved visiting Tlaquepaque when we went to Arizona a few years back, such a great place for unique art!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      i totally agree! such a great little spot 🙂

  14. Lizzy @ Fit Lizzio Fitness Blog on February 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I LOVE L’Auberge!! There is nothing quite like sitting and having a meal along Oak Creek. Sedona is such a gorgeous place…this post makes me want to go back ASAP!!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      i want to go back.. next weekend 🙂

  15. Stacy @ Sweating Tulipz on February 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Wow! Looks amazing! The photos are gorgeous and I am loving all of the natural scenery! What a beautiful location!

    • Fitnessista on February 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      it was totally stunning 🙂

  16. Sarah F on February 10, 2015 at 1:05 am

    That sounds like such a fantastic weekend! It’s inspired me to try and go to a yoga retreat ASAP, as I can practically feel the zen experience from reading this post.

    I especially love the story about not stressing and letting go. I actually just wrote a post about how completing my yoga teacher training has helped me let go of that attachment, and I would agree that it has helped my stress levels as well. I definitely agree that it isn’t about “not caring”, and some people seem to associate it as such- but you still care, you just care in a different way! Thanks for such a lovely recap.

  17. Gina on February 10, 2015 at 7:01 am

    WOW – what an amazing weekend! I’ve been to Sedona and I totally LOVED it. Beautiful photos by the way!!! Gina (from Mass)

    • Fitnessista on February 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      thank you, friend! hope you had a great weekend, too!

  18. Kimberly on February 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    This looks like an amazing event! I can’t think of a better place to have a yoga festival. My husband and I just went there for our first anniversary…stunning!

  19. Allison on February 11, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Where did you get your yoga mat? It’s so pretty!

  20. Danielle on February 15, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Wow, that sounds perfect! I’ve wanted to go to Sedona for a long time, so that coupled with yoga would be amazing.

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