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A Maine festival celebrating the state’s yoga community returns to Portland on Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1. This year’s weekend-long event features 45 instructors leading 52 workshops.

This is the sixth year for Maine YogaFest, which is held at East End Community School in Portland, with the exception of classes that involve paddling, which launch from nearby East End Beach. Last year, the festival partnered with sheJAMs, an all-women’s triathlon training club. Event Director Andrea Gleason says the two organizations joined forces to “promote community and a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Maine YogaFest photos by Courtney Elizabeth Photography

This year’s event kicks off with SPA Yoga, a slow flow, floor-based, whole-body sensory experience, led by Sarah Spiegel Dunn.

“SPA Yoga is one of those classes that I always see people really drop into their own experiences, turn off their busy minds for a bit and enjoy this deeply transformational experience,” says Dunn, owner of Samudra Studio in Saco. “It’s a class for everyone and that leaves everyone feeling blissful and connected to themselves.”

The Bhakti Collective will join Dunn to provide live music for the event. The group’s blend of primal ethereal sounds will create a unique soundtrack for the two-hour flow. A group of SPA-trained yogis will be on hand to assist as well, providing additional hands-on adjustments, assisting and support.

“I am really excited to kick off the festival with this transformational experience,” says Dunn, who will offer SPA Yoga at the festival for the fourth time. She will ask participants to write down their intentions at the start of class, and those will be woven into an intentions net that will stay during the festival.

The schedule on Saturday and Sunday has offerings for everyone—from paddleboard yoga and aerial classes led by Cirque Body to full moon restorative yoga with reiki and Yamuna body rolling. Ticketholders can attend a lunch-and-learn on Saturday (“Luminous 8 Professional Development for Your Souls” by Melissa Boyd) or Sunday (“99 Problems but Yoga Ain’t One” by Jacqui Bonwell).

Maine YogaFest photos by Courtney Elizabeth Photography

Sunday kicks off with a special community class led by Katie Beane, which is open to the public. This offering reminds participants that yoga is for everybody “when it is taught in a manner that respects and celebrates differences and encourages building strength, flexibility and self-acceptance.”

“With new and returning teachers, there are new and personalized presentations of all yoga styles,” Gleason says. “You can be a long-standing practitioner of yoga or brand new. Teachers will offer modifications as needed.”

The festival was founded 2012 by three friends—Justine Carlisle, Dana Woodbury and Regan Johnson—as a means to share their love for the popular form of exercise, which includes meditation, rhythmic breathing and a series of postures to stretch and strengthen the body. Since the founders of sheJAMs—Julie Marchese, Andrea Gleason and Melissa Smith—joined the effort, the festival has been able to grow.

Maine YogaFest
June 29–July 1
East End Community School, 195 North Street, Portland
Tickets: five-workshop pass: $130; three-workshop pass: $94; Friday night only: $38
For more info: maineyogafest.com

Emma Bouthillette authored “A Brief History of Biddeford,” about her hometown. She is a yoga instructor and a corgi mom. (emmabouthillette.com)

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