Yoga Movement in Vermont: the BYC

“Yoga is a movement I’m proud to be a part of.”

Written for elephant magazine by Shakti Sunfire

Jane said this to me, her soft tone only hinting at the depth of passion and purpose behind her words. A vision, and indeed, a practice, that has kept her and co-founder Ben Lanza at the forefront of creative, conscious event planning for the past 6 years running.

I had the honor of experiencing one of their events myself, last weekend at the Burlington Yoga Conference; a sweet, local gathering of like-minded progressives, intent on holding a container for free expression, for deep play, and for ignited community. As I make my way through the constantly evolving public yoga sphere, with it’s variety of offerings and incarnations, it has become easy to see that the space Jane and Ben create, is one born of yoga in action. In a sense, it’s a dharmically-powered move towards what’s next, a common role for the agile, quick-thinking little guy that holds one giant vision.

In their case, it is all about curating experience. Not numbers, not huge growth, not large profit margins, but the insatiable and irresistible urge back towards sustainable service. It’s service to their local communities in connecting the web of studios in the Burlington area and to the creation of a safe, free container. In Jane’s words: in keeping it real, which has been the case for the dynamic duo from the beginning.

Inspired by Power to the Peaceful, Harmony Festival and other Bay Area hybrids of music and mindfulness—by Jane’s California roots, Ben’s event experience, and their shared love of yoga, the first Liberate Music and yoga event was born in the spring of 2007. An offering that interwove yoga practices during the day and cutting edge music production at night, thus arguably instigating, and certainly catching, the innovative front end of now commonplace yoga/music events.

“So much of it is a dance,” Jane told me, “it’s about creativity. The constant return to something more artful. The question for us is not can we can sustain in the face of new Vermont events (like Wanderlust), but in doing our life’s work, knowing that we are offering something unique and of service. I believe that there is room for all.”

And if the collective vibe of the event last weekend had anything to say about it, your participants agree. Held in the University of Vermont UC Davis Center, the Burlington Yoga Conference offered everything from traditional yoga staples, influenced by Kripalu and Anusara varietals, to kirtan and yoga dance blends, such as Radiant Hoopdance and Soul Movement.

As I looked out across a sea of hula hoops and their smiling owners I was struck by the invested participation—almost like a sense of shared ownership, that only tight community emanates. Jane and Ben and their skilled team have much to be proud of.

So what’s next for the BYC, that was (up until last year), the largest yoga gathering in Vermont? Ever the yogini, Jane told me; Event production, like yoga, is about creativity. What can you make work? How can you make it thrive? If the quality of the yoga is there, the rest will follow.

Jane and Ben, and truly the whole of their the Vermont kula, are clearly buoyed by their crucial role in the growing movement called yoga. Even in the face of shifting worlds, they stand for the powerful technology of practices that are so at work in the world today. The BYC, as if tethered to that power of heart, will continue to evolve freely, riding the agile and shifting tides of creative impulse to “what’s next.” And all the while, it will certainly remain a genuine manifestation, and an irresistible offering for years to come.

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