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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

The Oneness Festival Celebrating the Summer Solstice in Style

Jul 29, 2016 10:31PM
by Scarlett Salem

Timed to align with the summer solstice, the weather did not disappoint as the sun shone bright on the third annual Oneness Festival held at Bikram Yoga Ivy City (BYIC) June 25 and 26. The festivities reciprocated giving attendees all things health, yoga and wellness that could be packed into the extra daylight. Sessions kicked off Saturday bright and early with 7:30 a.m. hot Pilates followed with back-to- back workshops all the way through Sunday with Bikram yoga, hot barre, beginner’s vinyasa, yoga sculpt, belly dancing, chair yoga and more.

“The [hot] barre is what's killing me, it was so good and so challenging—it was creative. Other than these cramps I am having in my legs, it’s been awesome,” joked attendee Paula Gueory, who also took the Kundalini yoga and hot Pilates classes at the festival.

The instructors could sense the positive vibrations and open-mindedness of festival participants. “The audience was receptive and I could sense that most of them would have stayed for at least another hour,” stated Kwesi Karamoko, an instructor who offered the festival’s Kemetic yoga class and who regularly teaches yoga throughout the DMV. “I think the yogic nuances and the pace resonated with them.” This experience was particularly unique for participants since very few area venues offer Kemetic yoga, along with many of the other classes offered at the festival.

The Kundalini yoga workshop instructor, Chelsea Xeron, echoed these sentiments. “At the end of the class, several of the students that were skeptical about trying Kundalini came up to me asking for the name of the meditation. Others said they felt they like they were floating on a cloud. Everyone seemed to have a great experience.”

Local artist DJ AphrosouI, a constant festival presence, DJ-ed a dance party held Saturday night. “I love it, it’s my third year and I love bringing music and good vibrations to the people,” he enthused.

In addition to working the body, attendees worked their mind with panel discussions ranging from yoga as a healing therapy to the power of pranayama: mantra and meditation. Yogis also lined up for henna, face painting, acupuncture and blended juices while browsing sustainable clothing vendors and clean beauty products.

“We are glad to be here. People [at the festival] are interested in making and sustaining connections,” commented Kyle Corcoran, an environmental restoration captain with MOM’s Organic Market Ivy City, located just around the corner from BYIC, who greeted festival goers and gave away free apples, bananas and reusable grocery bags on behalf of MOMs at the store’s vendor booth.

“We do these events because the wellness community in the DMV is large, diverse and culturally-rooted, meaning to me that this population readily embraces whole, clean foods with a variety of flavor profiles, Indian, Asian, Jamaican, etc., along with a whole spectrum of other wellness approaches, Eastern and Western,” added Laura Gabriszeski of the Maryland-based Stuck on Ginger: Functional Juice Blends, who offered the company’s increasingly popular blended juices at the event. “We know that, when we attend an event like this one, we're going to meet people who are ready to have a conversation about the health benefits of our ingredients.”

Oneness Festival founder, Vernita Parker, considered the event a success. “It was a beautiful day. The weather was amazing. The energy was great and everyone had a wonderful time.”

 For information on next year’s festival, visit For more information about Bikram Yoga Ivy City, visit

Scarlett Salem covers yoga events in the greater Washington, D.C. area.


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