Connection Through Abundance
By: Lisa Molendini RYT® 200+
Yoga Flow with Lisa Mo
The Northeast Pennsylvania Yoga Festival theme of “Connection through Abundance” is an intention that has helped shape the trajectory of my yoga teaching since leading a class at the 2022 festival.
In starting off the year with my annual vision board collage, the words “connection,” “community,” and “abundance” were all prominently featured. Little did I realize the abundant community connection that my teaching at Yogafest would spark.
Leading up to the festival, engagement on my Instagram suddenly took off, as well as meeting and getting to know dozens of yoga community members throughout this part of the Pennsylvania, and beyond, in the online world.
The day before Yogafest, as I was getting my camping/packing list together for the weekend, something called OhmFest popped up on my Facebook feed. With all my yoga festival-related posting, the almighty algorithm decided I needed to see it. Realizing it wasn’t too far away, in Dover, Delaware, so on a whim, I applied to teach.
During the festival, I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet the inspiring and welcoming Leah and her team who were there providing an Inclusion/Sensory Zone and promoting the Inclusion Festival, which would be happening in about a month’s time. As Leah and I chatted, and she realized my Yogafest class theme was going to be set to Grateful Dead songs, she immediately asked me if I’d like to lead a yoga class during a live Grateful Dead tribute band’s set at Inclusion Fest. UMMMM, YES!
Inclusion Fest was definitely another summer highlight for me, as not only did I get to teach two yoga workshops, re-live my high school band days by twirling a flag in a literal parade as a Beatles tribute band played “Yellow Submarine,” and meet so many amazing people from all over the country, but I also connected with a newfound soul-sister, Elena, while being silly at a “learn to hula hoop dance” workshop facilitated by Benjamin Berry. Another major highlight of the festival was when I headed back to my tent after teaching, and one of my camping neighbors from Five Points Music Sanctuary shouted over “hey, looks like you killed your yoga set!” As someone with little to no musical ability, aside from squeaking out a violin solo in the middle school orchestra, this might’ve been the closest to a rock star I will ever be.
Seeing how Inclusion Fest, and it’s presenting nonprofit, Accessible Festivals, works to make music festivals, recreation, and events accessible in so many ways to folks with bodies and minds of all kinds was such an inspiration to me. Both of my parents spent their entire careers working with special needs populations. My involvement with the Inclusion family has continued, as I’ve since been given the opportunity to shadow “Yoga for All Abilities” classes for neurodivergent teens and adults, which I now teach weekly via Zoom as part of Circles of Communication’s virtual activity groups. I will also be a part of this year’s Inclusion festival staff as Workshop Coordinator! Word on the street is I might even be facilitating some between-band karaoke, so hold on to your hat….or maybe invest in some earplugs!
A few days after returning to the “real world” post-NEPA Yogafest, I learned that my application was approved, and I’d be heading south in October to be a part of OhmFest in Delaware; an awesome combination of music, art, and yoga, put together by the wonderful and fierce Ruby and her Shakti Yoga Tribe! My OhmFest camping neighbors, the fun and funky band onyx&honey., organize the LookAround Festival in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I’m hoping to make my way down to join them there this summer! Coincidentally, I got to reconnect with my lovely NEPA Yogafest camping neighbor, Jess, as she is from that area and taught at OhmFest, too. The world is so small.
Mid-summer, my phone dings again, this time with a message from the amazing and talented Lindsay Jamison, who I got to meet and know at Inclusion Festival. She was in charge of setting up the workshops at the inaugural Ramble Festival in Darlington, Maryland, and extended the invitation for me to attend and present a yoga workshop. Great! Well, actually….wait a minute. It’s the same weekend as OhmFest. But…wait another minute, the two events are only about an hour and a half apart. The groundwork was laid in motion and I was officially “going on tour.” I got to play rock star for another weekend. OhmFest and Ramble were the perfect autumn ending to a summer full of yoga, learning, laughter, music, art, connection, and cOMmUNITY!
Back when I did my very first yoga teacher training, one of the very first things we were asked to share with the group was our “WHY?” What would we like to “do” with our teaching. My answer was to use yoga teaching as a means to travel and meet new people. And I attribute the Northeast Pennsylvania Yoga Festival and its powerful intention of “Connection through Abundance” as a major factor in the abundance of beautiful, fulfilling, community connections that came into my life in the last year.
Looking back on this blog post, I must sound like that meme of Charlie Kelly from Always Sunny in front of the map with the red strings connecting person to person to person. This is just my personal experience with Connection Through Abundance. I’m sure the stories from others are varied and endless! Who might you connect with this summer?!
I can’t wait to see you all on the Mountain!