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.
Ahimsa Yoga & Music Festival
October 1, 2022
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!