Last week I went to a yoga festival for the first time. I chose Soul Circus as it was the only one I saw in the UK that also included aerials. Overall we had a good time, but with a few issues. If we happen to go a festival next year, I’d probably be more interested in trying a different one.
I booked the tickets very early, so the price wasn’t too bad: £99pp for the weekend. Unfortunately aerial classes weren’t included in the price, so that was a £20 extra for me. I also found it a bit disturbing that showers weren’t included at a fitness festival, and cost £10 extra….
We decided to just camp in our own tent, which I was satisfied with. We chatted to some people who took the glamping option and were a bit disappointed they didn’t have separate toilets or showers.
We took the train + taxi up. This worked out okay, although our train back was cancelled and we had to find a replacement. Initially I thought we could just take the train to Stonehouse instead of Gloucester, but taxis from there seemed more expensive.
There was quite a wide variety of classes on offer. I recognized a couple of teachers, but not many. Initially I excitedly planned out my rough schedule based on the things I wanted to do most, but that didn’t work out so well. Classes were switched around or moved surprisingly often. We managed to go to about seven classes total: three exactly as scheduled, two were late, and two turned out to be substitutes.
On the first day, it was pouring down with rain. We got there in the afternoon and after setting up the tent, the first class we decided to go to was a live DJ yoga flow with Goldie. We tried to get there early, but we weren’t quite early enough – the whole tent was packed, and we managed to get two spots on the side that were only half in the rain. Tent wasn’t enclosed, so wind would sometimes blow raindrops pretty far in. Apart from the weather, the class was good – it reminded me of rocket yoga, and the music was very fitting to the movement.
Since that class started late, I left a bit early to secure myself a dry spot in the next one (I don’t deal with bad weather that well…). That was a chandra vinyasa flow, which I hadn’t done before. It’s meant as a complement to ashtanga, which I do weekly, so it worked well for me.
Saturday was gloriously sunny. This also meant classes weren’t limited to the tent space – you could just lay your may near enough to hear and follow instructions.
On Saturday morning, we went to a beginners acro yoga class. I’ve only tried acro once, when I was just starting yoga, and then it was quite overwhelming. It was still hard this time around, but much more fun. It helps to have a partner you know, not random people in class. We could still only do the most basic move, bird. It’s easier for beginners if the flier is much smaller than the base, but we’re pretty similar in size, so we just tried it both ways. Sadly I don’t have pictures.
In the afternoon, we tried to go to a yin class. The teacher kept to one side of the tent and didn’t use a microphone. Since she was therefore completely inaudible on our side, so we packed up our mats and left about 10-15 minutes in. We also tried to go to a mandala yoga class, but that one turned out to be substituted with a vinyasa class (which was still pretty good, just a bit different).
I also did an aerial session on Saturday, so was too tired to do much more in the evening. Instead we watched the performance from AcroYogaDance, which was pretty amazing. Having tried it in the morning, we could appreciate the difficulty even more.
After failing to go to a restorative class the day before, I wanted to go to Flow & Restore on Sunday morning. However, that one also turned out to be substitured with a vinyasa flow. Again a good class, just not quite as relaxing as I hoped. Afterwards we managed to go to a didgeridoo sound meditation session (had to grab space early for that one to be close enough), which was really calming, and a good note to end on.
There were obviously a lot of other sessions we couldn’t go to. Some were fun to observe from the outside, such as Star Wars yoga, or more advanced acro classes. There were some non-yoga sessions such as HIIT or dance classes too. We never ended up going into the hot tent. The queue was long and we weren’t that interested in the offerings there. (We heard some people talking about the pussy gazing session they went to in there, and apparently it was exactly what it says on the tin…)
The reason I chose this festival in the first place was because it included aerials in addition to yoga. It was mildly irritating that an aerial class cost £20 on top of the festival ticket. I’d expected a discounted extra cost – all the yoga classes are free with the ticket, but aerials do require more equipment and smaller groups. However £20 is more than I usually pay for a single class.
The class was also marketed as being with Flying Fantastic when I bought it, but later switched to My Aerial Home. They didn’t notify me, I just saw the change on the programme once they put it up. When booking you also just got to pick the time slot, there was no indication of what kind of class it’d be. My booked time slot turned out to be aerial yoga on the programme, which was disappointing. That was probably my least favourite of the options, which turned out to be hoop, silks, slings and aerial yoga. Plus an aerial yoga class is also usually cheaper than the others.
I was meant to have the class on Friday evening. However, it was raining a lot through the whole day, so all aerial classes that day were cancelled. I wasn’t notified, but there was a little explanation sign in the reception. I spoke to reception and they said to ask about any free slots the next morning. Thankfully Saturday was much nicer. They turned out to have free spots in most aerial classes, so I was able to go to slings and the whole thing turned out in my favour. Not sure what would have happened if I had other plans for Saturday, or got there too late…
The class itself was pretty fun and the teacher was really nice. Unfortunately due to the weather, the aerial rig wasn’t as high as it was meant to be. This limited what we could do in the class quite a bit. The place I usually train has low ceilings, so I’m somewhat used to it, but I had higher expectations based on festival pictures from last year. Most of the class were total beginners to aerial, and some seemed a little bit overwhelmed, but overall it looked like they had a good time (apart from one person who just left in the middle, not sure why…).
So overall the situation was a bit of a mess, but I enjoyed my class in the end and My Aerial Home seem pretty good. Unfortunately they’re located too far out in London for me to visit on a regular basis.
Food, Drink & Entertainment
I was pretty happy with the coffee and tea options. We ended up not drinking anything alcoholic, so can’t comment on that. The whole thing was also heavily sponsored by Remedy Kombucha. It looked like they brought a bit too much, so when leaving the festival, everyone got a crate of kombucha if they wanted.
I wish there were a few more food options, since we tried pretty much everything by the end. Most of the food was pretty tasty, but portion sizes varied quite a bit. Majority of the options were vegetarian or vegan. Some stalls were also a bit disorganized, for example we waited 40 min for tacos and had to remind them twice.
There was some entertainment throughout the day and music at night. We enjoyed the first night with Goldie, but opted out for the second night, since we were pretty tired.
If you’re thinking of going to (this) yoga festival, I hope the write up and review was helpful. As mentioned in the introduction, I generally had a good time, but probably wouldn’t do the same one again – it was a bit too disorganized for me. I don’t really have anything to compare it with, so perhaps that’s normal, but I feel like it doesn’t have to be…