Festival Spotlight: Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival

Festival Spotlight: Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival

Festival Spotlight: Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival

By iana velez


Yoga Love Magazine - McKenzie Riepen - bio pic

Looking for something to do this Fall? We are thrilled yoga festivals are back and can’t wait to check out all the amazing events taking place around the world. This week we had a chance to connect with Sonia, one of the partners of Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival taking place  in Lakota’s Farm in Cambridge, NY (just outside of Saratoga Springs) coming up on Oct 1, 2022.

Your name and role in the festival

My name is Sonia Shultis and I am joined by partners Kristen Zorda and Grace Bishop to bring the Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival back from a 2 years of cancellations due to state and national COVID-19 related mandates as well as an unfortunate situation with our 2021 venue that forced us to cancel. We three are owners and producers of the festival. Kristen produces and manages the festival programming, from presenter/music artist booking, workshop/concert scheduling, and venue, equipment and supplies logistics. Grace works on systems development, budgeting, marketing, and is our resident tech/software efficionato. I work on acquisitions for the venue, equipment, supplies, contractors, vendors, volunteers, point of sale and customer service. We all work together to fill in gaps where support is needed. 

What inspired you to create a yoga festival?

The Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival was created 10 years ago by founders Bernie and Katherine Walters. The accessibility to world renowned teachers and music artists, as well as access to the regionally and locally loved teachers, was a true blessing. It had such a huge impact on my life and my practice that I knew I had to be more involved. Luckily, Bernie and Katherine lived in the next town over, so I was able to stay in touch with them and offer my services. In early 2019 Bernie offered me a partnership in the festival and without hesitation I said yes. We co-produced the 2019 festival and it was the most challenging, rewarding, exhausting, fulfilling experience! Kristen was already familiar with the festival. In fact she attended a few years and her yoga studio was a sponsor for a couple years. My studio, now owned by another lovely yoga teacher, was a sponsor for one year. When I became a partner, I brought on Grace as a presenter in Nonviolent Communication. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Bernie and Katherine took it as a sign to slow things down and retire from producing, and they were gracious enough to pass the torch to me. Once I became full owner I knew I had to bring Kristen and Grace on board with me as they both shared a core value of nonviolence to the self, others, and the planet as well as the activism to end practices that cause violence. They both agreed to a partnership and the rest, as they say, is history!

What makes your festival unique?

Our festival was the largest indoor festival in the Northeast. We average about 700 attendees with 50 presenters/music artists and over 100 workshops/concerts over a 3 day weekend.  We have a vendor village of 40 carefully selected small businesses where Ahimsa is present through their business practice and/or services and goods. Our workshops are small and intimate, so rather than being one in a sea of 500+ people, you can be within an arm’s distance to a major headliner and even receive hands-on assists! And we believe it is because of the intimate atmosphere we create that our festival attendees show up. To be honest, though, what makes our festival unique ARE the attendees. It is their willingness to be open, raw, honest, to show up, to commune, to bare, to let go, to embrace, to challenge, to take in, to discover, to create, to love and to be loved that makes our festival so special. The common sentiment amongst our attendees is how rejuvenated and renewed they are after the festival. It’s because of reviews like that we are motivated to continue producing the Ahimsa festival.

What offering/presenter or class are you most excited about for this year’s event?

We are thrilled with all of our presenters who are excited to present at this year’s festival! Our headliner this year is WAH!  We couldn’t be more excited about the yoga workshop and headlining concert she will put on October 1. Her music is widely known in the kirtan and yoga world and if anyone’s ever been in a yoga studio, they’ve likely heard her music. It’s a blessing and pleasure to bring her to the Northeast so she can share her gifts and music with all of us!  The festival also features Gopi Kinnicutt, Larissa Hall Carlson, Adam Bauer, Jennilee Toner, Keli Lalita, Ambika, Roberto Lim, Meg Jala, and more!  It is a very big line up for a one day festival with yoga, meditation, philosophy, kirtan, workshops with live music, DJ silent disco party, vendor village, Lakota’s Farm tour, giveaways, closing bonfire. What we’re most excited for is gathering together again. We can’t wait to see all the beautiful souls that make up the Ahimsa community. And we are honored to be a part of the magic that happens when it all comes together.

Learn more: 

Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival
October 1, 2022

w: ahimsayogafestival.com
e: info@ahimsayogafestival.com
IG: @ahimsayogamusic

Headliner: WAH!

Also featuring: Gopi Kinnicutt, Larissa Hall Carlson, Adam Bauer, Jennilee Toner, Keli Lalita, Ambika, Roberto Lim, Meg Jala, Tomek Regulski, Beth Beaton Mausert, Kelsie Rockefeller, Jen Gerber, and we’re confirming more presenters!

Sunscreen Safety

Sunscreen Safety

Sunscreen Safety

By: LouLou Piscatore
Sunscreen Blog - Yoga Love Magazine
Every summer we slather on sunscreen to protect ourselves from the negative effects of the sun (and the depleted ozone layer) But how safe is your sunscreen?

It’s important to get to know what’s in your sunscreen. For starters, sunscreens are either mineral or chemical based. Some sunscreens contain both. Mineral sunscreens, which often contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, sit on the skin’s surface to deflect the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb the sun’s rays. This is where the problems start. Recent studies have shown that many of the chemicals used in chemical based sunscreen are absorbed into the body’s bloodstream at levels much higher than the FDA’s safety threshold. According to Yale Medicine (2021) at these levels, the chemicals have the potential to cause cancer, disrupt the hormone system and cause harm during reproduction and development.

As reported by the Environmental Working Group, “when the federal Food and Drug Administration proposed its most recent updates to sunscreen regulations, it found that only two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, could be classified as safe and effective.” Last year, the European Commission published opinions on the safety of three other common ingredients in chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone, homosalate and octocrylene. It found that hundreds of sunscreens manufactured in the U.S. use them at concentrations that far exceed safety levels. In addition, last May, benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products, many from well known brands.

Chemicals in sunscreen may be harmful to other forms of life, too. According to the Coral Reef Alliance (2021) there are an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen deposited into the ocean annually. Studies have shown that chemical sunscreen is toxic and has “significant impacts to coral health and their reproduction.” And it can be harmful to other marine life too, like fish, dolphins, green algae, and sea urchins, causing problems like deformation, decreased fertility, and impaired growth.

So what do you do to protect yourself? And the environment? Use a mineral based sunscreen. Back in the day these used to turn your face white (remember putting Zinc on your nose?) but not anymore! Now there are plenty of safe, clean, and fun (glitter!) options. Here are some of our fav’s:

Sunscreens we Love

Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
SPF 30 powder sunscreen with a brush. Easy application. Reef safe and chemical free with resveratrol and green tea.
Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
Sea Star Sparkle SPF 50 Glitter sunscreen by Sunshine and Glitter
Made with biodegradable glitter! Reef safe, water resistant, paba and paraben free.
Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
Black Girl Sunscreen 

“Made by women of color for people of color because we get 

sunburned too.” Mineral sunscreen with no white residue! Ozybenzone and Octinoxate free, with avocado, jojoba, cacao and carrot juice to moisturize and heal skin

Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
Monat Sun Veil Daily Mineral Protection 


Sunscreen and serum in one with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, arnica

Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
Salt and Stone 

SPF 30 

Face Stick and Lotion 

Zinc based with no white residue, water and sweat resistant and reef safe with vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and ashwagandha.

Sunscreen Blog product image - Yoga Love Magazine
Dune The Bod Guard and The Mug Guard

Reef friendly, paraben free, oxybenzone and octinoxate free, 72 hour hydration, inclusive – invisible on all skin tones.

Pacifica Coconut Probiotic Sport Sunscreen

SPF 50

Water resistant, oxybenzone and PABA free, no parabens or phthalates



MacMillan, C. (2021) Is my sunscreen safe? Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/is-sunscreen-safe#:~:text=The%20researchers%20tested%2016%20octocrylene,sunscreen%20over%20time%2C%E2%80%9D%20Dr.

Sunscreen 101: Protecting your skin and coral reefs. (2021) The Coral Reef Alliance. 

The trouble with ingredients in sunscreen. Environmental Working Group. 


Common Chemicals Found  in Sunscreens 

The most worrisome sunscreen active ingredient is oxybenzone. It is readily absorbed through the skin (Matta 2019, Matta 2020) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found it in nearly all Americans, with higher levels in those who report applying sunscreen (Zamoiski 2016). Oxybenzone behaves like an endocrine disruptor in many studies (Krause 2012, Ghazipura 2017) and is potentially of greater harm to children (FDA 2019). In an evaluation of CDC-collected exposure data for American children, researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower total testosterone levels (Scinicariello 2016). Female exposures to oxybenzone and related chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of endometriosis (Kunisue 2012).

Four studies published in 2020, support previous findings that oxybenzone can act as an endocrine disruptor and may increase the risk of breast cancer and endometriosis (Kariagina 2020, Peinado 2020, Rooney 2020, Santamaria 2020). In addition, the National Toxicology Program found equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in rats after observing increases in thyroid tumors and uterine hyperplasia in females with high exposure to oxybenzone (NTP 2020). Recently, the European Commission found current human exposure levels to oxybenzone to be unsafe and proposed a concentration restriction of 2.2 percent (SCCS 2020) – lower than the limited amount allowed in U.S. sunscreens, which is up to 6 percent. Several countries ban the sale of sunscreens that contain this ingredient, because it may be harmful to aquatic life.

EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone.

Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
Octinoxate is an organic UV filter. It is readily absorbed into the skin and continues to be absorbed after the sunscreen has been applied. It has been found in blood 16 times above the proposed FDA safety threshold (Matta 2019, 2020). Animal studies have shown the chemical has hormone effects on the metabolic system and affects thyroid hormone production (Seidlova-Wuttke 2006), with some evidence for other endocrine targets, including androgen and progesterone signaling (Krause 2012). Several countries ban the sale of sunscreens made with octinoxate, because they may be harmful to aquatic life.

Homosalate is an organic UV filter widely used in U.S. sunscreens. Homosalate has been found to penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones and produce toxic breakdown byproducts over time (Krause 2012, Sarveiya 2004, SCCNFP 2006, Matta 2020). A recent opinion from the European Commission found that homosalate was not safe to use at concentrations up to 10 percent and recommended a maximum concentration of 1.4 percent, because of concerns for potential endocrine disruption (SCCS 2020). The FDA allows U.S. sunscreen manufacturers to use it in concentrations up to 15 percent.

Octisalate, an organic UV filter, readily absorbs through the skin at levels 10 times more than 0.5 nanograms per milliliter, the FDA’s cutoff for systemic exposure. This cutoff is the maximum concentration that may be found in blood before there are potential safety concerns. A case report showed that the chemical has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis (Singh 2007). Analysis of high throughput screening assays by the Environmental Protection Agency suggests octisalate may have endocrine effects, weakly binding to the estrogen receptor.

Octocrylene readily absorbs through the skin at levels about 14 times the FDA cutoff for systemic exposure (Hayden 2005, Matta 2020). Studies have found that octocrylene causes relatively high rates of skin allergies (Bryden 2006). It has been linked to aquatic toxicity, with the potential to harm coral health (Stein 2019), and it is often contaminated with the known carcinogen benzophenone. According to a recent study, its levels can increase when it is stored (Downs 2021). 

Avobenzone is a widely used organic filter that provides protection from UVA rays. Avobenzone can disrupt the endocrine system and has been shown to block the effects of testosterone in cellular studies (Klopcic 2017). In one study, avobenzone was detected in serum samples at levels nine times above the FDA’s cutoff for systemic exposure (Matta 2020).

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
Mineral sunscreens are made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, usually in the form of nanoparticles. The FDA proposed that both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide be classified as safe and effective. Evidence suggests that few if any zinc or titanium particles penetrate the skin to reach living tissues (Gulson, 2012, Sadrieh 2010).

Titanium dioxide is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, because of the potential of exposure through inhalation. For this reason, powdered or spray formulations containing titanium dioxide are of concern. In general, mineral sunscreens tend to rate better than chemical sunscreens in the EWG sunscreen database. 

The trouble with ingredients in sunscreen. Environmental Working Group. 






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