Houston, Texas: Yoga mecca. Maybe you’ve never defined the city this way, but come President’s Day weekend, you might change your mind. Friday through Sunday, Houston hosts the third annual Texas Yoga Conference, no doubt the largest gathering of yoga enthusiasts in the state.
Held at the University of Houston’s Recreation and Wellness Center, this year’s Texas Yoga Conference features more than 60 classes and workshops and more than 20 different styles of yoga from nationally celebrated instructors. Les Leventhal, one of San Francisco’s most popular instructors, will teach a vinyasa class focusing on hips and twists.
Renowned author of two books and contributor to Yoga International magazine, Christina Sell will lead students in a back-bending class. Desirae Pierce, a prolific Austin studio owner who works closely with the famous master yogi Baron Baptiste, will lead a flow class that promises to enlighten, exhaust and energize.
The breadth of the conference offers new yogis a rare opportunity to sample all kinds of yoga styles and explore which practice best fits their goals and lifestyle. At the same time, participants seeking rigorous work-outs will not be disappointed.
David Regelin, who has created two of his own vinyasa-based systems, and Ana Forrest — creator of Forrest Yoga, pioneer in the field of yoga and emotional healing, and bona fide medicine woman — will each present extended “intensives” on Friday in addition to classes later in the weekend. Complimenting the asana classes will be a range of lectures on topics such as Sanskrit, energetics, Reiki (Japanese “palm-healing”) and the history of Ayurveda.
The breadth of 2012’s conference offers new yogis a rare opportunity to sample all kinds of yoga styles and explore which practice best fits their goals and lifestyle. At the same time, participants purely seeking rigorous work-outs will not be disappointed. According to conference co-founder Roger Rippy, who owns the popular Houston studio YogaOne with his wife Albina, “These amazing teachers are putting together the best possible classes. There really is something for everyone.”
If you think yoga is just about meditative “oms” and inaccessible spiritual tenets, think again. The theme of this year’s conference is “Yoga Rocks Texas.”
A “Bhakti Bash” concert kicks off the weekend at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, featuring national artists David Newman, Tyagaraja Welch and Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band. On Saturday evening, the internationally fêted Desert Dwellers will perform their genre-bending dance tracks for a rave-like party that will extend into the night.
Jennifer Buergermeister, founder of Jennyoga and Houston’s first donation-based studio, Blue Tree Yoga, says, “My vision for Texas has always been BIG…just like our state. I see this year’s conference being an event that simply rocks with fun! Yoga has something to offer everyone, at all stages of life.”
The Texas Yoga Conference was spearheaded by a group of Houston-area studio owners organized by Buergermeister in 2009. The Rippys and Buergermester have since led the planning efforts for the event. Since its founding, the conference has exploded, outgrowing its two previous venues.
This year’s response has been even stronger, with registered participants possessing the broadest range of yoga experience the organizers have seen. Buergermeister, Albina and Roger believe “yoga is for everyone” and are committed to demystifying the practice. To that end, they strive to keep registration prices relatively low. Half-day passes are $80; full-day passes are $145 and weekend passes are $299. Not a bad deal for a schedule packed with high-quality teaching. For a complete class listing and more, visit the conference website.