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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

where did all the yogis go?

at first glance, it sounded like it was going to be a fantastic event.

yoga fest 2006 was scheduled for sunday, september 10th, at the bergamot station arts center in santa monica. according to its website, its purpose was "to raise funds for the Lakshchandi MahaYagna which will benefit not only those who participate, but all of humanity and the earth itself."

and even if you had no clue what the "lakshchandi mahayagna" was (i know i didn't), the roster of featured teachers, performers, and vendors was quite impressive:

anusara yoga with anthony benenati from city yoga
hatha yoga with kia miller from yoga works
indian dance with sri kesava of the taal dance company
kids' yoga with darlene d'arezzo from exhale
kundalini yoga with marne moore from golden bridge yoga
meditation with richard grossman of soundjourney
power yoga with ashley turner from santa monica power yoga
power yoga with ally hamilton from santa monica power yoga
power yoga with mark blanchard from progressive power yoga
primordial sound meditation with mahaila mckellar
satyananda yoga with cindy fulsom
seven spiritual laws of yoga with alanna aziam

govindas and radha
ganasaraswathy and friends
madison and cameron alan-lee
kalyani shamugaraga dancers
taal dance company

plus more
clothing and accessories from shiva imports
mehndi body painting by yogini designs
vedic astrology by linda goldman
massage, including reflexology, thai massage, and neck and shoulder rubs
lunch, dinner, and all the chai tea you can drink

i eagerly showed up to volunteer the afternoon of the event, and to my dismay, it seemed that there were more vendors and volunteers roaming around than paid attendees.

so why was there such a poor turnout?

here are some possible reasons --

1. maybe there wasn't enough advance publicity?

thinking back, the first i heard about it was when i picked up a postcard at liberation yoga the week before the event. then read about it a couple of days later in the september issue of la yoga. and didn't see it mentioned at all in the september issue of yogi times (even if they were supposedly a yoga fest sponsor).

a google search produced postings about the event on bethecause.org, la.com, tribe.net, and upcoming.org. but did it ever make it to the la times, or any of the local tv newscasts (KABC7, KCAL9, KCBS2, KNBC4, KTLA5)? i don't remember hearing about it through any of those sources :(

2. maybe the registration fee was too expensive?

i know that with my tight budget, i thought it was a bit steep (which is why i ended up volunteering to pay my way). all attendees were expected to pay $45 if they pre-registered for the full-day event ($55 at the door) or $30 for the morning or afternoon only ($35 at the door). kids were $20.

on the other hand, if you consider that you could take as many classes as you wanted (as many as five if you went non-stop all day) plus you were fed lunch and/or dinner, it could have been a good deal. especially since all the teachers were well-respected in their fields and you couldn't have enjoyed a more delicious indian meal unless you happened to visit your indian grandmother who'd spent the entire day slaving over a hot stove.

3. maybe the venue wasn't clearly marked?

since i live close to bergamot station, i entered the complex and kept walking around until i found the tents and the food table (leave it to me to find the food!). i overheard someone say that she saw people driving off when they couldn't find any signage that told them where to go. i just say they weren't persistent enough.

4. maybe there were other events that day that people chose to attend instead?

let's see... as far as i know, there was the los angeles triathlon (which i also happened to volunteer at earlier that day) and the kickin' cancer 5K that morning. and supposedly, the mehregan persian festival, with attendance usually in the thousands. it was the opening weekend of the los angeles county fair. oh, and let's not forget, it was also the official start of the NFL season. bingo, that must have been it!

anyway, despite the fact that the place was practically deserted, i managed to keep myself entertained. when i wasn't sitting at the registration desk, keeping the buffet table stocked, or directing attendees to classes, i was moving around and checking out the events. i chatted with yoga instructors anthony and rebecca benenati, kia miller, and mark blanchard (and if i had only thought of bringing some yoga gear with me, i could have taken their classes, too). i sat and chanted a bit with govindas and radha, his wife. i browsed through the items for sale at the shiva imports booth and compared travel experiences with the store owners. and i had more than my share of naan, dal, channa masala, tofu saag, gobi aloo, basmati rice, gulab jamun, and chai tea.

will next year's event, if there is another one, be better attended? if the organizers take the time to figure out what went wrong this time, maybe it will...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think publicity just wasn't where it should have been for this event, and they made the mistake of not posting a schedule ahead of time (or at least not a week or two in advance, when I looked). I know that kept me from going. But thanks for the report! Hopefully they'll learn some lessons and do this again next year. -Tanja, tanjasana.blogspot.com

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the price. I'm a serious yoga student, local, and had the day free--just too steep.

5:22 PM  

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