If you've ever wished that you could immerse yourself with premiere yoga instruction from a variety of teachers from around the globe—all without without spending a fortune on travel—your wish has come true. The annual Hawai‘i Spirit Festival, which takes place on O‘ahu's North Shore from November 4–6, is a three day celebration of yoga, music, movement and Hawaiian Culture. What better place than the picturesque Turtle Bay Resort in La‘ie to experience a range of workshops that include Vinyasa and the Sutras, to Afro-Cuban Dance and Meditation.
The brains behind this festival is Kate Patterson, owner of True Union Events. Here, she shares with us some insight into what shaped her career/life choices, her evolution in the natural health arts, and executing an event that draws hundreds internationally.
Abigail Royce for B on Hawaii: I read about the medical scare that led you to the path of yoga. Care to elaborating?
Kate Patterson: I used to call myself a runner. I did a bunch of half marathons and running was a big part of my life. I had an episode where I blacked out while running. I had a blood vessel break on the exterior of my brain. Very scary, but I was fine. Of all the brain things that could have happened, this was pretty minor. My orders from the hospital neurologist included "no more running.". So I had to find something that filled the space that running filled in my life. I started hot yoga... and that was it. Yoga made sense in every way possible. I learned how to be still in comparison to my years of always being on the go. I felt an indescribable sense of relief. One thing led to another and my path dramatically changed—and here I am in Hawai‘i leading teacher training's and hosting yoga festivals. Crazy.
B on Hawaii: How has the festival grown since you started three years ago?
Patterson: The first event in 2009 was pretty small. It was only a one day event and it featured all local teachers. We brought in a blend of local and off-island instructors in 2010, and this year we are featuring all guest teachers. The attendance has grown and awareness has grown. And the event just keeps getting better.
B on Hawaii: What kind of impact on the Wellness community do you think the festival has made so far?
Patterson: Well, I wouldn't want to speculate incorrectly. What I can say is that we all hit plateaus in life. We come across periods of time when we get kind of stuck and uninspired. And for those of us that live here ... traveling to the mainland to retreat with one of these experienced teachers can cost an arm and a leg. So the opportunity to have all these teachers under one roof here in Hawai‘i is a pretty great thing. Regardless of whether you are an experienced yogi or not, regardless of whether or not you are a teacher, we are ALL students. And the opportunity to learn from teachers that aren't available to us on a daily basis can really be life changing. We hear things differently when they are fresh. You know what I mean?
Oh, one other cool thing is that I have noticed that all the people that work at the resort light up after the event is over. A few hundred happy, positive people walking around with yoga mats and saying namaste can be pretty influential in a subconscious way. Happy people create more happy people... so I guess I answered the original question!
B on Hawaii: Is there a day or time you'd recommend attending for non-yoga or non-fitness types who are interested in joining the festival?
Patterson: On Sunday we have a music festival that will be pretty awesome. We have Makana, Paula Fuga, Mike Love, Dubkonscious, Jon Swift and a few special guests coming together for a concert out on Kuilima point at Turtle Bay. No yoga or fitness experience required... you just have to like music! We also have the Hawaii Healing Garden which will be there with vendors, lectures, demonstrations, as well as some yoga and dance classes. Admission to the Healing Garden and associated classes is free although we will be collecting donations to support non-profits associated with the event.
B on Hawaii: Is there anything you'd like to add that you feel is important or unique about this year's festival?
Patterson: I have personally practiced with all of these teachers and I think they are incredible. They changed my life so I know they can change the lives of others as well.
For more information on the Friday-Sunday schedule of workshops, Kate or her the Healing Garden events, head over to www.trueunion.org
"Regardless of whether you are an experienced yogi or not, regardless of whether or not you are a teacher, we are ALL students." – Patterson