The Hanuman Festival was rapidly approaching and several of my yoga studio classmates were talking about making the journey out to Boulder, Colorado to attend. It certainly sounded like fun, spending four days practicing yoga on the edge of the majestic Rocky Mountains. This group consisted of all women however and they already had a strong friendship bond between them, so I felt uncomfortable asking to be included in their plans. I really wanted to go though, because the teacher lineup was incredible. Richard Freeman, Tiffany Cruikshank, Amy Ippoliti and Kathryn Budig were just some of the names I recognized. The chance to take classes from such a diverse group of great instructors, all concentrated in one spot was very appealing. The idea of traveling out to this massive happening as a yoga newbie on my own though, and spending four days surrounded by a large group of people I didn't know, seemed a bit daunting. So I did some research and discovered another option – attending as a volunteer! In exchange for ‘working’ just 15 hours over the course of 5 days, I’d have the opportunity to attend nearly any of the classes offered during my ‘off’ times for free. Of course, this decision carried with it a number of commitments on my part, such as arriving at the Festival a day early, promising to show up for assigned shifts on time and generally just being a good steward for the festival. There were many other benefits besides the obvious one of free class access. Participating in behind the scenes operations of the festival and serving alongside teams of other shining people allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with the experience, as opposed to just going as a participant. By the time the actual festival started, I already knew a bunch of people that I’d worked alongside getting the preliminary setup done. The structured team assignments made it easier for me to make new friends and initiate dialogue with new people. I also didn’t have to commit to specific classes in advance. Instead, I could flex the ones I wanted to attend, based on information I heard at the festival about specific teachers I’d never heard of before. Since going to that first Hanuman event several years ago, I’ve volunteered at Yoga Journal Conferences, Wanderlust and local activities like Yoga Rocks the Park in Kansas City. All offer various benefits as a part of their various work-exchange programs. If you have your eye on a particular festival or event you’d like to attend but don’t know anyone else going, or feel a little intimidated at the thought of showing up to something like this on your own, I’d definitely recommend checking out volunteer options. It’s a great way to give a little of your time and receive big rewards in return.
Look for Tim at the registration table of Hanuman 2015 in Boulder, coming up in June!