We asked a yoga instructor how to exercise at a festival
‘Find a private tree or patch of grass to roll around and do a wild yoga practice’
Festivals involve a lot of dancing and drinking and then getting up and doing it all again the next day.
Obviously, this is very exhausting for our bodies, so we asked professional yoga instructor, Leigha Butler, about the best yoga to practice before, during and after a festival.
Hi Leigha. How can we use yoga to prepare our bodies for a weekend-long music festival?
I love attending music festivals, but there’s no doubt that they’re exhausting. One beautiful bonus of having a yoga practice is that you become attuned to your body and its needs. You begin to prioritise the things that make you feel good: you aim for enough sleep, enough hydration, and enough movement throughout the day so that you can wake up ready to jump into a long and active day.
If you’ve got a festival coming up, I’d say use your yoga to set an intention and plan for how you’re going to take good care of yourself through the weekend. How and when are you going to get rest? Plan for how frequently you will need to drink water, particularly if you know you’ll be working against your own hydration efforts by the other things you’re ingesting.
It’s pretty common to suffer back pain when you’re standing for hours on end. Take the occasional timeout throughout the day for hip flexor stretches, which can help to prevent lower back pain. Here’s a free class that will help you sooth and stretch these often tight muscles.
Carve out some solo time too! Snatch a five-minute meditation here and there. For me, this is essential when I’m bumping up against strangers and tent-mates for hours on end.
Thankfully, most festival goers are a smiley and peaceful bunch, but you can rub up against an overly drunk or grumpy a-hole anywhere, and it’s a plus when the drunk or grumpy a-hole isn’t you!
How can yoga help us to live more in the moment and become more adventurous?
Yoga doesn’t just help us to live in the moment, it helps us to fall in love with the moment. There are ecstasies everywhere when you tune in. The festival atmosphere is perfect for savouring the daily miracles that the culture doesn’t typically allow us to indulge. Give all of yourself to every piece of sensory input.
Get absorbed in melody, tempo, pulsation, vibration, and instrumentation. Keep your ears open for sounds both distant and near. Receive a distant laugh as keenly as you hear the blood between your ears. See the mud under your feet and await the squish between your toes. Tilt your head toward a grey sky and see an infinite gradient. Fall so hard in love with what you’re hearing, seeing, and feeling, that there simply is no room for mental chatter and the ego’s trivialities.
The festival atmosphere is a gift. With any luck, you’ll bring its lessons back to your macrocosm and begin to trip out on every little sensory tingle.
Do you think that yoga can enhance our enjoyment of experiences such as festivals?
There’s no doubt. When you’ve got a yoga practice, you’re freeing energy channels and increasing your own vitality. Nature and music become, if they aren’t already, not just something you appreciate but your essential nutrition, like components of your blood.
Yoga also teaches you how to be with yourself. I love, at a festival, to find a private tree or patch of grass where I can roll around and do a wild yoga practice without a mat and without rules. I’ll lose my sense of time and just eventually sort of sniff my way toward the shows I don’t want to miss.
When you’re creating your own happiness, it won’t matter if you’ve lost your buddies in the crowd. Your energy will attract new ones and magnetise your people toward you.
What yoga do you recommend to help ease a hangover?
The toughest class I teach is at 7:30am every Saturday morning. My diehards have often admitted to being sorely hungover. Still, they drag themselves out of bed to do their sweatiest practice of the week and wring out their livers in the process.
I don’t know how they willingly put themselves upside down after a night of drinking, but it seems to work. Any practice that makes you sweat and twist will have detoxifying effects. Or maybe the best yoga for a hangover is a nap.
What yoga practices can help us recover from a festival the week after?
I know of an ultra-marathoner in his nineties who swears that his big secret is rest days. Those who push and push without relief never give their tissues a chance to rebuild. The same can be true of a yoga practice.
When your body, or mind for that matter, has taken a beating, it needs your help to carefully recover. Gentle and restorative yoga as well as yin yoga can be essential medicine while you’re reestablishing your stamina.
But don’t leave these practices behind! Weave them throughout your regular yoga regimen for long-sustained wellness and ease.