Boreal Bliss Yoga Fest 2018: Highs and A Low

Boreal Bliss Yoga Fest 2018

Highs and A Low


On July 14, 2018 we hosted a festival of live music, yoga, and healing in a shed near Two Harbors. To clarify, this is not your average shed. The shed has a stage, wood flooring, large garage doors with a metal mesh covering to keep the bugs at bay. The shed is part of the property at the Silver Creek Town Hall. Most of the year the shed is used to store boats and machinery. Every summer the shed is home to an International Ukulele Festival. Last summer I attended this event (against my will) at the urging of my husband. I learned that the Ukulele Festival is more of a participation event, not so much a spectator event (and by that I mean, we were the only spectators in a shed full of 100+ ukulele players). I saw the shed and thought, “what in the world is this incredible venue doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”


Fast forward seven months. Joella starts dropping subtle hints that we should do another yoga fest. A few years ago I hosted a yoga festival to raise money for the Duluth Winter Village with some friends. Joella was one of the instructors at that inaugural event held at the Red Herring Lounge.  Joella had dreams of expanding to an outdoor festival, henna, flower crowns- a full-day affair. Slowly her subtle hints became not-so-subtle. At last, I caved. Bryana still wasn’t on board but it was 2 against 1 and we knew she’d come around eventually.

We started planning.


I reached out to musicians, yogis, and businesses we admire, with values aligned with our vision. When Juice Pharm agreed to provide fresh juice for the event, I thought, “okay, maybe we can do this.”


For months we spent hours discussing the event on the phone, visualizing the day in our mind.

Saturday, as I watched women I admire pulling up, chatting, and exchanging hugs I kept thinking, “wow, I can’t believe all these people took a Saturday in the summer to come be part of this event.” I felt so lifted up, supported, and loved. It was humbling in a way that is difficult for me to adequately describe.



Hosting an event leaves the host feeling vulnerable and exposed. “Are people having fun? Does everyone have what they need? How can I improve this experience for the guests? Are the vendors doing okay?” You spend so much time creating this beautiful thing and then when you present it to the world it is scary, because the world might reject your idea.


I can’t say for certain that people had fun, but below are some of our highs and a low from the event:

Old pal Amanda Vuicich registered and emerged from the town hall in a flower crown in under 4 minutes. We both laughed and I said, “wow, you went from 0 to flower crown reeeal quick!”

Saffron and Grey surprised us by giving us bags of flower petals from the flower crown operation. Immediately, we knew that Sarah Seidelmann would be thrilled with the petals and would know exactly what to do with them. She was, and she did.


When we started planning several months ago, I created a budget based on the amount we wanted to pay our musicians and instructors. Musicians and yoga instructors are often underpaid for sharing their gifts with the world. We wanted to make sure they were paid fairly and trusted that we would sell enough tickets to break even. Well, things got down to the wire. When we finally sold the ticket that got us to that break-even point we felt pretty darn happy.


Bryana and Joella had a blast teaching the family yoga class to kick things off.  They also enjoyed playing with the kiddos while the mamas and aunties enjoyed Miriam’s class.  It was such a joy to see Miriam guiding caregivers while Sarah Krueger lulled the yogis with her beautiful gifts.  



During Miriam’s yoga class, Bryana and Joella not only read the kids mindfulness books and created relaxation bottles, they also pulled out all the old stops: follow the leader, simon says, red light - green get the idea.  Good ole’ fashioned FUN.



Before Jess Rossing’s class I said, “Jess, take it easy on them. This is a long day and it’s hot.” She said, “I will!” I had to giggle when I saw everyone squatting, push-upping, lunging, and jumping through the mesh screens. Jess is the best, I love her energy and passion for hard core workouts.



Meditation with music from Bryana’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law was really special. What a gift that the two of them gave, the willingness to drive 9 hours round trip to share their music with us. Similarly, my sister made the long drive to join us and took the beautiful photos seen here. My sister is a busy mama, it means so much when family sets aside time to come experience this part of our lives. Connecting in this deep and meaningful way with friends, family, mentors, and new friends is a gift we could never have anticipated.



Sarah Seidelmann’s workshop was uplifting, poignant, and provided a practice I think all of us can use for the rest of our lives.  Sarah is a powerful force and her knowledge of beasties has a way of resonating weeks, months, and years after learning of them.

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Of course, Sonja Bjordal and Joella make one helluva combo.  This was their second time teaming up and, I must say, that their duo is beginning to be one of my favorite classes ever:  yin yoga taught by Joella, accompanied Sonja’s music is o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g.



And lastly, Bryana and Laura Sellner took the stage. Laura’s music created an amazing atmosphere for free flowing, powerful movement.  The end of the day was supposed to conclude with a dance party. By the end of the class it became clear that no one had a “dance party” left in them. At the end of class, Bry led us in what can only be described as a group do-si-do with some large group circle yoga moves, along with some shakin’, wigglin’, smilin’, and laughin’. It was silly, light, and a perfect way to end the day: connected.



A low point- my sister is a shop teacher. At the end of the year her students are typically done with their big projects and have time to do miscellaneous projects. Bonnie had her students create us some signs to line the road leading to the event. The signs were so adorable. The students painted them with love. Imagine our disappointment to discover that someone stole our signs that read “Rolling with my OMies”, “You are (almost) exactly where you need to be”,  and “Good Vibes Only.”



We learned a lot after this first go-around. There are things we might do differently. We are open to feedback. We have so much gratitude for all those that made this event happen- the vendors, the musicians, the instructors, the guests. There were so many other special little details throughout the day that really did make Boreal Bliss Yoga Fest a very joyous and memorable day. This blog could literally go on forever.  We had special moments with friends, laughs, inspiration, pride, love…. THANK YOU. Thank. you.

Amanda Thoe1 Comment