We had the opportunity to attend the Yoga Weekend teaser event last month at the Drake and, if it was any indication at all, Yoga Weekend is going to be an incredible weekend. Sign up here, for September 14th and 15th!
Well TO Do: Please introduce yourselves to the Well TO Do readers.
Jen Birenbaum & Sari Nisker-Fox: We are the dynamic duo, Jen Birenbaum and Sari Nisker-Fox, responsible for creating The Yoga Weekend! We both wear many hats in our lives and bring our complementary strengths to this home grown annual event. Jen; mama of 4, co-owner of Camp Walden and passionate yoga teacher combines over a decade of experience running an overnight camp with her love of yoga to ensure a magical weekend where no detail is missed. Sari; mama of 2, holistic life and business coach and dedicated yoga teacher comes with over a decade of running a successful studio in Toronto, building a strong community and mentoring teachers to help create a diverse and rich program that will delight our yoga campers.
WTD: Tell us about The Yoga Weekend. What can participants expect?
J&S: The Yoga Weekend is an all-inclusive weekend for the adult looking to connect with a yoga community, themselves and nature as well as experience the nostalgia of summer camp. Participants can experience the weekend the way they want to ensure they enjoy their time away from the city! The retreat is designed to give campers the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, with like-minded people and have the freedom to explore and discover what inspires them whether it’s the various styles of yoga classes and workshops or camp activities.
WTD: What inspired you to start a retreat like The Yoga Weekend?
J&S: The Yoga Weekend idea was sparked with my (Jen) desire to fuse my city yoga communities with my summer camp life. Yoga and Camp are two central and meaningful pieces of me that I knew would synergistically work! After connecting with Sari and her yoga community, we ran two successful studio retreats and realized that what we’d imagined could be shared with the Toronto yoga scene.
WTD: Why do you think it’s important for people to “retreat” from their day-to-day lives from time to time?
J&S: We live in a face-paced, multi-tasking, online world that can be lacking in time and space for some of the soul-nurturing practices that help us to move towards the best version of ourselves. We need to breathe fresh air, connect with ourselves and others in an authentic way that fills us up. Giving ourselves the gift of space and inspiration can propel us to make even the smallest changes in our lives that will bring us greater joy and happiness within.
WTD: What element does being out in nature play in The Yoga Weekend?
J&S: It’s integral. Being in nature makes The Yoga Weekend a very special experience that can’t be duplicated in the city. There is a quality of breath and a level of peace and inspiration that exists amongst the trees, by the lake and in an open green field that is truly enchanting.
WTD: What impact do you think that an immersive weekend of yoga can have on a person’s yoga practice? On a person’s life?
J&S: One can begin to see new perspectives through a focused lens. Taking time and space to deeply experience and explore something that is even just a tiny bit interesting to you might lead you to discover the one element that resonates with you. And when you find that thing; that intangible thing, you’re forever connected in a different way.
WTD: Being able to practice various styles of yoga with a diverse group of teachers without the distractions of “real life” allows you to find your yoga.
J&S: The opportunity to meet and work with some of our health and wellness professionals to learn about better nutrition, meal planning, essential oils, and other topics that we don’t always make time for can drastically change our physical and mental health. The weekend gives you the time to reconnect with the most important thing – your health and well-being, in the way you want to, in a supportive community with professional wellness experts that are cheering you on!
WTD: Talk about the importance of community to The Yoga Weekend.
J&S: You are speaking to one of our core values and our most compelling reason for building this retreat. The Yoga Weekend is all about connection. We’re bringing together a crew of health and wellness professionals who have passion and skill for helping others. We’ve created a stellar program for certified teachers to come together to dive into expanding their learning with some of Toronto’s best teacher trainers (Sept 14-15). And invited all levels of yogis and campers who want to explore yoga and be together at camp again! (Sept 15-17).
WTD: We love the idea of The Yoga Weekend because it also seems to celebrate play! Why is incorporating playfulness into our lives so important?
J&S: Play keeps us young and connected to all the goodness of our wild and free side. When we let down our guard and play a little (or a lot), we can re-discover the parts of ourselves that can get lost in the day to day; the parts that take risks, try new things and laugh so hard we cry.
“All good things are wild and free” – Thoreau
WTD: The “teaser” class and brunch at The Drake Hotel was such a fun event – any other exciting things planned in the lead-up to The Yoga Weekend?
J&S: We LOVED the Drake event and believe it was a beautiful taste of our fall retreat!
Our focus this summer is to get prepped for our yoga campers, ensuring our teachers and practitioners are ready to bring their best and our amazing weekend partners (KOTN, Drake General Store, Greenhouse juice and more) are stocking up!
WTD: What’s exciting you most right now about the Toronto wellness scene?
J&S: We feel like the wellness scene is expanding and changing for the better! Taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically, is not seen as a hobby or when time allows for it anymore. Wellness is now a necessary, important and central piece of our daily lives. It is awesome to be a part of it!