I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of a yoga loner. When I make it to group classes, I often sit quietly on my mat and stare at my toes until class begins. When it's over, I say "Namaste," silently wish those around me well, roll up my mat, and dart out the door as quickly as possible so I can get back to my little family. I know there's nothing wrong with this—yoga is, after all, an individual practice. But I also know there's a whole world of amazing yoga friends throughout this city that I'll never get to know if I don't take the time to say hello. Even if you're really outgoing, it can be difficult to make friends in most yoga classes—most teachers do not exactly welcome chitchat between postures.
This is one of the many reasons I'm so excited about YOGAPOP, Charleston's very own event combining yoga with live music, live entertainment (think dance performances, fashion shows, etc.), and plenty of opportunities to make small talk with people who practice yoga all over Charleston. There are so many amazing ways to practice yoga in this city (See Why Charleston, SC is One of the BEST Cities for Yoga)! YOGAPOP celebrates them all, helps to bring us all together in one place, and even gives us a chance to get to know each other better.
I love that this event is totally local, too—there are amazing local teachers, like my girl Elli Boland, and local sponsors like GatherYoga (who happens to be streaming the event for those of you who aren't local). YOGAPOP was the brainchild of Becca Finley, also the "chief creator" behind The Music Initiative and This Is Noteworthy and founder of Music Uncovered Magazine, and her partner, Hilary Johnson, founder of the local event production company Gusto Group.
We're just a few days away from YOGAPOP: Gratitude, and I couldn't be more excited! I chatted with Becca Finley to learn more about what to expect, the story behind the event, and what we can expect to see from YOGAPOP next year.
It's happening this Friday, November 21, at 6:30 p.m. downtown at Memminger Auditorium. Tickets are $25 in advance/$32 at the door. Oh, and if you're coming—find me! I'd love to expand my own little yoga community. I'll be the girl sitting alone, quietly staring at my toes.
Tell me how YOGAPOP started. Where did the idea come from?
"My partner, Hilary Johnson, and I wanted to combine two things we love, yoga and live music, into one whimsical night of fun that we could give to our local yoga community. Our intention was to unify amazing people, and create a unique, healthy, lighthearted evening for everyone to enjoy."
Are you surprised by how successful these events have been?
"Surprised, no. Delighted, yes. Grateful, absolutely! We had a feeling that our local yoga community would relish in an evening that would highlight what they are passionate about. And on top of it they get to hang, have a cocktail, eat some amazing food, and shop. What is not to love about that!"
What are some of the ways you want YOGAPOP to be different from the yoga and music experiences one might find in some of the yoga studios in the Charleston area?
"We love the creativity of all the studios, and the experiences that come forth are all so special in their own ways. We want YOGAPOP to be a massive celebration. Lots of people, lots of fun, lots of excitement, and the ability to share with yogis of all differing levels and philosophies."
How will the November YOGAPOP be different from the previous two?
"November's YOGAPOP will be a bit more intimate than the previous two. We have chosen to host the event at Memminger Auditorium, so we can only have about 350 yogis this time. Things to get excited about: the stage configuration, the amazing vendors, an inspired chat with Ashley Cebulka, a kickass class with Elli Boland, a 45-minute concert with Brendan James, Acroyoga, new vendors, gifts, and a few other surprises."
Music is a big part of YOGAPOP, and it's obviously a big part of your life, too, since you are also the founder of The Music Initiative/This Is Noteworthy. How has music impacted your life? And why is it so important to you to share that with others?
"Music consumes my life and has since I was a kid. My grandmother was an accomplished and well-traveled music professional in the 1930's and 1940's when women didn't really venture outside of the box of "wife/mother". She was an amazing role model. I studied music and theatre in school, and then had a bad case of stage fright, and became scared of the thought of pursuing a career that 'was too hard to make a living.' So, I made it my mission to help other musicians be able to prepare themselves better to be able to pursue a career, and not feel that same fear whether it be through performance, business, or health issues. On a selfish note, music is my gateway to my higher power. Most of my messages come through lyrics of music. And this happens all the time. I get chills just thinking about it. So, if I want my messages, I have to protect the people who are making them."
Are you a yoga student, too? Tell me about your practice.
"I am a yoga student as well, albeit a new one. My practice is all about restorative and Yin. I am fast, fast, fast all the time. So, I need to commit to being on that mat, slowing down, and digging deep. Whatever it may be that day. I spend a bunch of time at Gaea being all the way in it."
You wear so many hats! How do you stay grounded?
"I am so grateful I have amazing friends, coaches, teachers, partners, and collaborators that give me support. Also, it doesn't hurt to have an awesome dog and an amazing boyfriend who keep the love flowing unconditionally."
Do you have any advice for other local entrepreneurs who are pursuing big ideas?
"Believe and listen to your gut, above everything else. I also really like this quote by Goethe, it always helps me. 'Whatever you think or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.' "
What's next for you?
"A whole 2015 of amazing YOGAPOPs, more music concerts to help raise money for musician's healthcare, a book, a children's music cd, a clothing line, Cooper River Bridge Run, a new series of the television show, and who knows what else? The sky is the limit, right?"