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Looking back at the Milan Yoga Festival

We’re busy people. We’ve always got more work to do, more things to do. Maybe that’s why we never mind being in the car. It gives us time to reflect. But I promised you to look back at the Milan Yoga Festival, so here are my thoughts.

I have to admit, I’ve got mixed feelings. It was beautiful to see so many of our friends, to see so many of our students, yet I’m also stuck with this feeling that it could have been so much more.

Seeing friends

Going to the Milan Yoga Festival always means seeing friends. We live in the Netherlands, lots of our friends live in Italy. We try to fly as little as possible, because flying is bad for the environment. So we never jump in an airplane to see our friends for a weekend. We only go to Italy to teach yoga. And if we do, we combine it with seeing friends.

Franca Bortot, the amazing anatomy illustrator, is a long time friend of Sara. She was there. The ReYoga guys are friends. They were there. Giulia and Matteo are friends. They were there. Ram Rattan is a friend. He was there. Nicola, the musician, Vera (yoga teacher), Francesca (yoga teacher) are friends. They were there. Seeing them, spending time with them always makes me happy.

Bringing yoga teachers together

Having said that, what I miss at the yoga festival is meeting other teachers. Teachers I don’t know yet. It’s always nice to meet new people, and to be able to share experiences.

When I helped to organize Paascro, the Acro yoga festival in the Netherlands, we would always have a teacher area. A place to be away from the crowd, a place to get changed, to meet and greet other teachers.

A bottle of water doesn’t hurt

Having said that, we always tried to make it as comfortable as possible for the teachers. We were happy they came – often from far – to share their skills. I think taking care of people is a way to show your appreciation.

I’m talking about little things. A cup of tea with a slice of cake on arrival. A bottle of water at the start of their workshop. Lunch, dinner. A toilet only for teachers, so they don’t have to stand in line, just before they have to start teaching. And of course a place to get changed.

Little things, but in Milan we had nothing. No changing room, so we changed behind the stand of ReYoga. No toilet, no lunch. Not even a bottle of water. We’re Dutch, we have a reputation to be cheap, but at least we know how to be a good host.

Space without a space

Sara’s classes are popular. Maybe that sounds arrogant, but it’s true. I mean, she has half a million subscribers on YouTube, and her videos have been watched over 60 million times. Keep in mind, they are in Italian. There are only 59 million Italians. That means one Italian out of every 118 Italians is a subscriber.

At the Milan Yoga Festival Sara’s classes were sold out. More than sold out, and the organization moved her to the big room. We were very happy with that. It meant more of our students/followers could practice with us.

Yet, it also meant we had to set up, while the band that was playing in the evening was rehearsing, and when we wanted to start the class, we had to find a place for Sara to teach, and for Nicola to play, on a stage full of instruments and covered in cables.

Why not set up a stage for Sara on one side of the room, and for the band on the other? Or ask the band to wait to set up after her class? And why not decorate the room a little nicely? At least you get better pictures that way, which is good for promotion.

Day 2 Sara and Nicola had to teach, they were already clearing the stage. A big part of the floor, where students had to be, was covered in cables and the stage was a mess. I don’t think it’s up to a teacher to clean the stage, and get the audio aperture ready. I think that’s up to the organization.

Same old same old

This was my third visit to the Milan Yoga Festival. I’ve got friends who have been there for several years. The teachers are always the same. We have amazing students that come to do a class with Sara, but they admit as well that without Sara they wouldn’t come. Simply, because there is nobody new.

I understand that an organization wants to keep the teachers they are friends with happy. Yet some fresh blood isn’t bad as well. With PaasCro we always had a big star from abroad. It’s what attracts people.

You don’t have to go crazy. I mean La Scimmia Yoga is more than Sara. Vera Bettiol teaches on our platform, her classes are very popular. Same for Giulia Martinelli. If you plan a class with one of them on the same day Sara is teaching, I’m sure you have a full house as well. The only thing you have to do as an organization, is ask.

A foreigner would be great. Patrick Beach, Tara Stiles, but I do understand that that might cause problems. Not everybody in Italy speaks and understands English. That’s why Sara always translates my yoga classes when I teach.

Think out of the box

Not just the teachers are same old same old, also the market. Yet, it’s so easy to liven things up. Just look at all the companies selling yoga clothes. Among others, ReYoga was there, Yogago was there, even Decathlon had a stand. So why not organize a fashion show? I mean, it’s Milan. Isn’t that the fashion capital?

All brands can select a few outfits, ask a few of their friends to wear them, and you have a show. I mean there was a stage for talks, you could have used that for a fashion show. Fun for the brands to do, fun for the visitors to see and it’s something new.

I’ve got a hundred more ideas like this, but that would make for a super long blog, so let’s keep it like this for now. And don’t get me wrong. We were happy to be there, happy to see all our students, yet it could have been so much more, with just a little bit of effort, and a little bit of creativity.

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