The concepts of health and community are very important to Elizabeth Nerland. That’s why she founded the not-for-profit West Coast Yoga Foundation and is putting together Squamish’s first annual West Coast Yoga Festival on June 19.
“For us, creating an event where people feel they are truly part of the community, that we belong to one another, an event where we celebrate a reverence for Mother Nature… an event in which we create the opportunities for an internal shift to occur in participants whereby they start changing their lives to be more compassionate towards other beings and mindful of the environment,” she said. “This is what is most important.”
As both an accomplished yoga instructor and trained registered nurse, Nerland knows yoga is about so much more than stretching, but also something that can affect everything from weight loss to mental health.
“Yoga has been profoundly transformative in my life, and I am eager to share the teachings far and wide, enabling all people access to the best teachers,” Nerland said, noting the event is by-donation. “The lineup is truly incredible, and I am excited to share these teachers with all who are open to receive their offerings.
“The festival will feature seven of the best yoga teachers in the Sea to Sky corridor, including Clara Roberts-Oss and Tina James. There will also be vegan food, a marketplace, music and First Nation celebrations.”
But, it hasn’t been easy planning the one-day, outdoor, zero-waste event.
“I started planning this event in October 2015,” Nerland said. “As it is our first year, I had to set up the non-profit, set up banking, meet with the District to book the date and learn about requirements for hosting an event on District land, apply for grants, look for partnership opportunities within the community, set a lineup, create a team of volunteers, select vendors, source all rental equipment, create a website, create a Facebook page and event – it has been an incredibly huge undertaking!”
However, thanks to partners like Squamish Savings, Nesters, the Sea to Sky Gondola, Chief Yoga and North Yoga, Nerland said the festival would help create “universal access” to yoga in the corridor.
“I am excited to see the community coming together in celebration,” she said. “And we have offered participation completely on a donation-basis. While comparable festivals set fixed prices of $100-plus per day, we encourage donations in the $50-to-$100 range to ensure sustainability; however, there is no minimum donation amount required to purchase a ticket.”
For more information on the event, go to westcoastyogafoundation.org or look for West Coast Yoga Festival on Facebook.