It seemed fitting that sunshine lit up Cannon Beach Chamber Hall during a Saturday class on the fiery yellow solar plexus chakra, considered a spiritual point of the body.
Forty people flowed through postures focusing on the core — including spinal twists, bridge pose and cobra pose — to tap into the solar plexus, located by the stomach.
“The solar plexus is the center of our energy and confidence. It helps us find that fire to carry out our purpose to be our authentic selves,” said the instructor, California yoga teacher Ericka Anntoinette, engaging the class in breath exercises called pranayama. “When we judge and criticize ourselves, it depletes this chakra.”
Anntoinette encouraged students to repeat positive affirmations, such as “I am enough, I am worthy, I accept myself completely, I am confident, I am capable, I am strong, I am alive, I am beautiful and I love myself.”
“Our thoughts create our reality,” she said.
Jennifer Van Zeipel, who considered the festival an opportunity to both practice yoga and network, took the class. “Yoga is my medicine,” she said. “It keeps me stable.”
Another student, Jane Cline, said she values yoga for its importance in the aging process. “It helps with balance and flexibility.”
About 175 people — not including the 35 volunteers, teachers and assistants — attended the sixth annual Cannon Beach Yoga Festival from Feb. 26 to 29.
A grant for the Cannon Beach Tourism and Arts Fund made the festival possible. Courses focused on going beyond physical postures to tackle mind habits, learn Sanskrit, heal with gemstones, cultivate a positive “inner voice,” foster anatomy awareness in asana, and lead a purpose-filled life.
One difference from last year’s schedule was the addition of a Bollywood dance party. On Saturday night, yogis donned bright, colorful clothing and bindis at the Sea Ranch Resort. Over lively Indian music, Prashant Kakad taught Bollywood and bhangra style dance moves, with simple names like “water” to designate rolling hand motions, to the all-ages crowd. He also performed with the students who took his optional class that day.
On Sunday morning, Portland yoga teacher and yoga therapist Sarahjoy Marsh taught a course on “The Yoga of Love and Belonging,” amid soothing sounds of rain falling outside.
Marsh discussed nourishing our “koshas,” which represent the “layers of our human eco-system.” It starts with the outermost layer— “anna,” associated with physical yoga poses — to the inner layer, “ananda,” which loosely translated to “unconditional belonging or love.”
“Belonging and love doesn’t leave us,” Marsh said. “We wander away from it.”
Singing or chanting is one way to get closer to “ananda.” While playing a harmonium, she led the class in a Sanskrit song that included the lyrics, “May we have luminous outcomes; may we get pulled away from the darkness.”
“We’re biological species, but there is more to us,” Marsh said. “We have a spiritual imperative to know ourselves and to contribute. We want a sense of larger possibility.”
When we decide to be nurturing in relationships, even in stressful work situations, “we start to see other people more tenderly and not burdensomely,” Marsh said.
Yoga improves the tone of the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that extends to the chest and abdomen.
“When the vagus nerve is working, we have more benevolence and compassion, and fewer challenges with the sensory world,” she said.
Marsh had the class write down a mantra, then repeat mantra with each inhale and exhale to “trance the mind out of habit” and foster a state of “nonthought.”
One student in the class, Dona Zavislan, superintendent at Washington Corrections Center for Women, plans to start a yoga teacher training for offenders. She also hopes to begin a meditation and yoga training for corrections center’s staff to help combat stress.
Stephanie Mines, a Gresham psychologist who helps those who have experienced trauma, signed up for the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival after finishing a draining and “intense” work period.
“I wanted to find something that would help me detox and ground me,” she said. “Yoga connects me to my truth.”
Mines was accompanied by her daughter, Rachel Erdman, who said that yoga “helps you manage everything and get back to yourself.”
Both mother and daughter said Marsh’s workshops were a highlight of the festival for them.
“She zeros in on students and connects with people,” said Mines.