Soul Circus is one of the modern wave of healthy festivals – a yoga and wellbeing weekender in the Cotswolds that sees 7,000 people don their lycra for an onslaught of meditation, mindfulness, exercise, food and the odd cocktail.
Over the course of the three-day festival, Soul Circus put on 200 classes across several outdoor stages and tipis – and there's a lot more than just yoga to keep people occupied.
With the enormous range of things on offer, we challenged GSG Creative Director and lover of yoga/gin Rachel to try something in every zone, from setting goals with Lululemon to HIIT classes with On. These are the highlights she came back with – along with a new calm outlook on life.
Breathpod method with Stuart Sandeman
My personal highlight from the weekend was a workshop from Stuart Sandeman – the founder of London-based breathing consultancy Breathpod. The class focused on breathing in and out through the mouth, which is not something us yogis are used to, but these unique techniques have the ability to transform the way you feel.
The class did come with a warning – ‘emotions will flow’ and they really did. I felt reset, both physically and mentally, after this class. It was completely different to anything I’ve done before and everyone came away completely energised. I’ve been raving about it to everyone since – and that’s what Soul Circus was about. The chance to try new classes I’d never find the time to try in London, and come away with totally different outlooks on yoga.
Breathpod delivers breathing and coaching programmes for individuals, groups and businesses, from one-to-one sessions and workshops to a range of events. Key themes of the sessions include accelerating performance, increasing productivity, communication and confidence, alleviating stress and reducing negative emotions.
Find out more about Breathpod here.
Vinyasa flow with Kathy Ran
Merging the festival atmosphere with yoga, the vinyasa flow class was an energetic and fun class suitable for all levels. It took place on the main stage alongside a live DJ set from Norman Jay MBE. We even saw him trying a yoga move at one point – so it looked like he was enjoying his yoga set as much as we were.
Kathy Ran focuses on the way yoga makes you feel, and that down to earth teaching really helped inexperienced yogis feel empowered to try new moves, which is one of the underlining themes of the whole event. Her knowledge of yoga techniques goes back almost three decades with teachers such as Duncan Wong, Shiva Rae, Desiree Rumbaugh, Bikram, Larry Shultz and Iyenga – so you know you're in good hands.
Kathy is the owner of Black Lotus Yoga in Mill Hill, North West London. To find out about sessions click here.
Mandala Flow with Katrina Rayburn
Following a sequence where you travel 360 degrees around the mat, this was a dynamic and physical practice suitable for experienced yogis. The session started and ended with yin yoga, which book-ended long flowing moves – a serious workout for the hips and legs.
Mandala yoga, if you didn't already know, is based on the four basic elements: fire, water, earth and air. That 360-degree movement around the mat is designed to connect those elements through spiral movements with specific areas of the body. The result: a newfound alignment and calming of the body.
Taught by Katrina Rayburn, a yoga teacher whose experience has seen her focus on an enormous range of disciplines, including time spent in India learning about Sivananda yoga, the session was by far one of the interesting parts of the weekend.
To find out more about Katrina and where to attend one of her sessions click here.
Yoga meets Reggae / Yoga meets Beyonce
Whether you're a novice or an experienced yogi, adding an element of fun to a practice is always a good idea – especially when you're at a festival. Simone Venner was our choice for 'most fun yoga session' at Soul Circus, getting all the single ladies (and men) combining yoga and dance moves to the music of Beyonce.
She followed that with a reggae yoga class – one of the most creative and ridiculously fun parts of the whole weekend – where each song in the playlist reflected on Simone’s childhood. Creative, innovative and amazingly enjoyable.
We sweated, we joined hands and had a sing-along and we desperately wanted to do it all again when it was over.
Simone is the founder of MsHolistic offering a holistic nutritionist, yoga Instructor and meditation services. For more info click here.
Dance first, yoga later
But it wasn't all just about yoga. Soul Circus kept the good vibes rolling into the night with a great band on the opening night – K.O.G – followed by a DJ set from Goldie. The Saturday night was headlined by Norman Jay MBE.
So whether you're a hardcore yogi, a complete newbie or someone just looking for a festival experience that's a bit different from the usual, Soul Circus is a great option. The beautiful country setting – complete with its own lake – mixed with an enormous range of food, drink and yoga activities made for a truly memorable weekend.
Tickets for the 2020 event are now available with the weekend taking place from 21-23 August. Click here to find out more and sign up for updates on the line-up.