Gemma Bellhouse shares her festival highlights from this year’s Sweatlife
Yoga instructor Gemma Bellhouse hit up this year’s Sweatlife Festival – and it blew her mind. Here are her five most favourite bits, in ascending order.
5: The deodorant in the toilets
Okay maybe YOU are always well prepared for every festival, but the Sweatlife crew thought of everything: from clever mini-maps and their own Sweatlife agenda app, to water fill-up stations, to an actual mermaid haven where lovely ladies plait your hair and apply jewels to your face. Um, yes please!
4: The delish samples
There was an array of goodies in the Marketplace. I tried some tasty protein balls from Bounce (flavours like ‘cumin cashew!’), super-yum chickpea chips from The Food Doctor, a sweet dragonfruit smoothie from Ama Vida, and addictive coconut bites from Ape Snacks. New snacks to add to my next Ocado delivery!
3: The big ancient gong
I finally went to my first gong sound bath, which happened to be with Leo Cosendai, London’s foremost gong master, and one of the oldest and biggest gongs in Europe. We were invited to sit or lay down, and to let the theatre of sound take us on a journey. Not only did the instruments reverberate throughout the Tobacco docks, but his voice clearly came from another era. I think I may have passed into another realm at one point.
2: The elite instructors
As Lululemon is an international brand, their ambassadors and teachers are some serious world-renowned gurus – and you can meet them at Sweatlife! I went to THREE yoga classes – a philosophical as well as physical journey.
FIRST: As an ashtangi, I was drawn to Nico Luce, a wise and eloquent global citizen who focused on biomechanics and slowing down. He told us: ‘What you do to yourself affects others; what you do to others affects you. Do not forget that connection’.
SECOND: I had to try the ‘Hip Hop Yoga and Meditation’ with the super cool Gyal Flex ladies. The beats session had some lovely transitions and hip openers and ended with a soothing meditation, during which I was told: ‘Don’t bother trying to control your thoughts; just don’t let them control you’.
THIRD: The day ended with an excessively enjoyable session with Ryan Lier, the Lululemon global ambassador, who had his own DJ (brilliant!). Ryan warned us to avoid giving up on a pose as soon as it gets difficult. He said: ‘Your yoga mat is your training for life. Don’t collapse, and don’t stop as soon as the little needles start. When you have to come out of something, do it mindfully. What you do on your mat is what you’ll do in your life’.
Ryan was undoubtedly a real guru, and when his session ended, we were all beaming happy yogavibes.
1: The inspiration
In this year’s Lululemon opening talk, Purpose & Practice: design the life you love, Ellen Rhyno, a bubbly and motivational training manager, quoted the Dalai Lama: ‘Your number one responsibility is to be happy,’ she said. ‘You cannot serve others until you are happy yourself.’
Smiling, she added: ‘Search for resonance in your life – not dissonance. When LIFE works, WORK works.’
This was resonating with me already.
Resonance: ‘a resonant sound, or echo.’ Or it can be ‘something that evokes an association, or a strong emotion.’
Dissonance: ‘a harsh, discordant combination of sounds,’ or ‘a state of disagreement or conflict’.
During her talk, Ellen Rhyno told us to choose our top three values from a given list of words, to help us find our path to resonance. My top three? Connection, Authenticity, and Wisdom.
Ellen pushed us to think about what activities we had done that week to make us feel strong, and which make us feel weak – and how to eliminate those activities to instead spend time on what we resonate with. I decided that teaching yoga made me feel strong. Obviously I need more!
As this talk was early, I spent the day absorbing her words. I found the same powerful thread of resonance coming up in all the Sweatlife sessions, and the same questions coming back: what thoughts and activities made me feel strong? Which made me feel weak? Could I use my power to choose my path of resonance?
Ryan Lier closed the festival with: ‘Decide to set your vibrations on the highest setting – love and truth.’
To conclude, yes, I’ll definitely be back for more resonance at Sweatlife next year and I hope you will too!