Local yoga practitioner organizes wellness festival with help from community
MOOSIC — When Chelsea Manganaro considered organizing a yoga festival in Northeastern Pennsylvania, she envisioned throwing a smaller scale Wanderlust, but it wasn’t until she was bartending at a beer festival that she got the itch to start executing her plan to throw a hometown version of the nationally celebrated health and wellness festival.
With Montage Mountain as the backdrop and sponsored by a supportive group of local professionals, the inaugural NEPA Yoga Festival will take place Sept. 12, in conjunction with National Yoga Awareness Month, offering yoga classes for all experience levels, a variety of craft vendors, live entertainment and a full day of speakers from across the spectrum of wellness practice.
When Manganaro opened Nearme Yoga in 2014, she was looking to build a community. The Moscow resident lived and worked in California for several years before returning to NEPA, and she knew that growing a network of like-minded folks beyond the reach of comfortable inner social circles could be challenging.
After feeling that sense of community proliferate through client relationships in her Moosic and Wilkes-Barre studios and through her interactions with fellow practitioners, Manganaro is poised to illustrate the strength of that network at the festival.
Event sponsors include several yoga studios, Dana Pallo & Associates, Joe Longo Photography and North Slope Brewery.
Manganaro said organizing the event was a lot of physical and mental work but that a lot of people, without whom she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the feat, stepped up to help.
“I also have been in the yoga community for a while, so I knew a lot of the same people,” she said. “As soon as I said I was doing this, everyone kind of jumped on board and was so excited about it, and it was a collection of people helping me get it running.”
The day will be divided into eight time slots, each an hour long. Patrons will get to choose yoga classes, hear wellness speakers, listen to bands or peruse vendor booths.
“We’re welcoming all experience levels,” Manganaro said. “For beginners, the festival might be more of a great way to submerge themselves in a new experience in a supportive environment. For the regular practitioner, it’s really gong to be something special, because they’re going to be surrounded by all of this energy that they already know, except it’s going to be on a whole new level.”
Beginners’ classes will be offered throughout the day and will give newcomers a chance to find a style that’s right for them.
For the more experienced practitioner, there will be a diverse schedule of classes with accomplished teachers such as strong vinyasa with Kelly Corazzi, acro yoga with Tara Quinn and dharma yoga with Jerome Burdi.
Patrons interested in getting their dose of healthy via seminar can attend lectures from proven health and wellness professionals and life coaches. Charles Umphred will speak on “Overcoming Challenges.” Rich Perry will present “7 Tips to Unlock Your POWER,” and Dan Golaszewski will give a lecture called “Healthy Spine, Healthy You — The Brain Body Connection.”
Live music will be played during each time slot. Entertainers include Jacob Cole, Russello Project, Miz and Cherokee Red.
Vendors are bringing everything from mandalas to jewelry to hand made bags and yoga gear.
Beer and wine tastings will be conducted throughout the day, and a healing tent will contain chiropractors, Thai massage therapists, Reiki masters and tarot card readers.
Balance Yoga & Wellness, in Forty Fort, and hOMe Yoga & Barre, in West Pittston, are among the studios sharing in sponsorship of the event.
Alyssa Miller owns hOMe Yoga, and she shares Manganaro’s appreciation of the yoga community. “One of the things I wanted when we were opening our studio was to connect more with the other studio owners,” Miller said. “I think that this reaffirms that we’ll all be able to work together.”
Corinne Farrell has owned Balance Yoga for a few months, but has been involved with the local yoga community for much longer. She said of the significant boom in wellness businesses: “What I see as very exciting is that it’s a sign of a shift that’s happening in our community, that people are more interested in their mental and physical health, and they value breath and patience and compassion and the things that our yoga practice teaches us besides being flexible.”
Manganaro, said her yoga practice is what keeps her sane and makes her appreciate life, and she wants people to experience some of the stillness and presence achieved through practice.
“I really hope people walk away feeling better than they came, as simple as that sounds,” she said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]
If you go:
What: Inaugural NEPA Yoga Festival
Where: Montage Mountain
When: Saturday, Sept. 12. After an opening ceremony, classes will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m.
Additional Information: Single general admission tickets cost $69 for adults, $50 for students and veterans (with ID) and $25 for kids. A family pack (2 adults, 2 children) is available for $129. More information is available at www.nepayogafestival.com.