When Treefort 2019 kicks off on Wednesday, March 20, it won't just welcome over 400 musicians you've never heard of—and two that you have. Branching off the Treefort lineup is Yogafort, a three-day event starting Friday, March 22, that gives festival-goers a place to reconnect and discover the "absolute awesomeness" that is yoga mixed with music.
In preparation for the event, Yogafort co-founders Marisa Weppner and Celeste Bolin sat down with Boise Weekly to talk inclusivity in yoga and debunk the myths that keep potential yogis from stepping onto the mat.
Myth: You have to go to Treefort to go to Yogafort
While Yogafort is part of the Treefort camp (alongside Alefort, Comedyfort, Filmfort, Foodfort, Hackfort, Kidfort, Skatefort, Storyfort and more), Weppner and Bolin said Yogafort is its own event. Attendees need not have set foot in a Treefort venue or even a yoga studio to partake.
"Yogafort is unique because it's self-contained," said Weppner. "But at the same time, we see Yogafort as the heart chakra of Treefort. We're anchored in love and joy and feel-good vibes that we send out to the rest of the festival."
- Peter Lovera
Bolin agreed, and said Yogafort, for many, is a soft introduction to Treefort.
"As soon as you step into Yogafort, you might go, 'Oh, it doesn't matter at all how I participate, physically. I'm just showing up, and everyone is really friendly.' And there have been lots of converts from that who then go all-in with Treefort," she said.
That's because Yogafort was designed for all ages, abilities, body types and skill levels. And while comfortable attire is encouraged, there are few limitations on how to experience the event (much like Treefort itself). Recalling years past, Weppner and Bolin said they have seen beginner yogis and enlightened gurus practice alongside yogis in costume, enthusiasts covered in glitter, and musicians and concertgoers still in band tees and skintight jeans.
Yogafort also offers people who've never practiced yoga a chance to try something new.
"Come one, come all," Weppner said. "Whereas going to a yoga studio or class for the first time might feel stuffy or serious, a yoga class at a festival is fun and playful, and there's never an air of 'Am I good enough to be here?'"
Myth: Your spirituality is measured by 'how flexible your hips are'
Yoga is anything that brings together the mind, body and spirit. Essentially, Bolin said, you can be a yoga expert and never do a single pose.
"Your level of spirituality is not measured by how flexible your hips are," Weppner said.
That mentality reaches beyond the physical plane.
"We've had inquiries from people who are mobility impaired, asking if there are chairs available or classes that accomodate limited mobility, and I say yes!" Bolin said. "You can always bring a chair or use whatever you need. And though you might be doing it in a different physical way, we curate the experience so that all people feel welcome."
To maintain that inclusive environment, Weppner and Bolin have brought in a lineup of teachers who cater to all levels of students. And to push those teachers out of their own comfort zones, each has been paired with a live musician they likely won't meet until the event.
"We hope the Yogafort experience is one where each person feels guided into getting in touch with their body and mind and isn't worried they're not doing something the right way," Weppner said. "If we can help you feel good in this moment, any feelings of self-consciousness will drop when you feel the energy and see people having a good time."
- Matthew Wordell
Myth: Yoga requires silence and serenity
While there's certainly a place for quiet serenity at Yogafort, Weppner and Bolin said that's just a piece of the experience. This year, Weppner credits Bolin with the event's "booming" music festival-quality sound system.
"Going to Yogafort is like the difference between listening to a record at home and going to a concert," Weppner said when asked what Yogafort adds to a participant's yoga journey. "Practicing in a 2-D space—from a YouTube video, for example—is great. But when I go to a concert, I'm immersed, and I feel the music more. Going into that yoga heart space with live music takes it to another level that's so beautiful."
"Practicing with a teacher and a live musician, you get to feel how devoted people are to what they do. If anything, it might inspire someone to find their dharma—their life's purpose," she said. "We love seeing how people open up at Yogafort, when they don't have expectations for themselves but come with an explorer's eye and an open heart."
Yogafort runs Friday-Sunday, March 22-24. Three-day passes are $60. Kids under 12 get in free. For more information on tickets, to see the lineup of teachers and musicians, and to access the schedule, visit treefortmusicfest.com/fort/yogafort.