Interview with Matt Singmin, Creator of the Phoenix Weekend & DJ for the Future Sound of Yoga

By Kirsty Nugent

BYC: So tell us about the Phoenix Weekend…

Matt: The Phoenix Weekend is a 2-day experience incorporating yoga, music, meditation and rave. This is the second year that we're running it and we're continuing the 2 key themes of the first year: learning and letting go. Learning in the sense that it's a chance to access world-class yoga teachers running sessions on topics you wouldn't get in their standard classes… and letting go in the sense that on Saturday night people will have chance to get dressed up, dance and let their hair down…

BYC: So what's happening on the Saturday night?

Matt: We'll be running a special yoga style "Rave" edition of the Future Sound of Yoga experience – face paints, fancy dress… a real yoga dance extravaganza!

BYC: Sounds like fun! What kind of audience are you aiming for?

Matt: I guess it's aimed at people that are looking for a weekend where they can explore yoga and meditation but where they can also enjoy music and get the buzz of being in a social environment with like-minded people… there's a lot of people out there that love going to music festivals but are getting tired of the way they've been going in recent years… we're hoping to create an alternative experience, where you can explore yoga and meditation but still tap into that festival vibe…

BYC: Tell us about the program.   

Matt: We've designed the program so that every session offers something different to a standard yoga class that you'd have back at home. We're honoured to have Mark Whitwell and Katy Appleton coming from overseas specifically for the festival. Mark brings a deeply spiritual approach to his classes with his direct link back to Krishnamacharya and Desikachar. Katy (one of the UK's leading teachers) brings a modern progressive approach to Vinyasa Flow… And the local teachers will be running sessions on topics you wouldn't get in their standard classes – so for instance John Ogilvie will be running a session specifically focused on Arm Balances, and Simon Borg-Olivier will be running a session specifically dedicated to his approach to Nutrition and Breathing.

We've also incorporated some slightly different sessions into the program so that every session isn't purely about yoga – so for instance Gwyn Williams will be running a session on his partner shiatsu style "Zenthai Shiatsu" and Heather Swan will be talking about her experiences transitioning from a life in the corporate world to becoming a world-recording holding base jumper – she's an amazing person – very inspirational.

BYC: How do you plan to make it different from other yoga festivals?

Matt: Good question… over the last year we've been fortunate to see quite a few of the festivals/conferences on the international circuit whilst touring the Future Sound of Yoga – and one of the key things we've found is that it's really important to have the right kind of spaces to actually run the sessions in – conference centres aren't ideal because they can have this corporate feel – outdoor festivals can be great but then there is the risk of adverse weather and noise bleeding between areas – for the Phoenix Weekend we are very fortunate to be running it at the Satyananda Ashram in Mangrove Mountain where there are dedicated indoor yoga spaces that provide a fantastic platform for the teachers to work in – clean, quiet, contained, and already resonating with years of people practicing in them…

We've also been conscious to limit the lineup to just a few select teachers to ensure that the quality of every session is super high, and the energy isn't dispersed across too many classes going on at the same time…

BYC: How large will the festival be?

Matt: For this year we're planning to keep the numbers to around 200 attendees – so large enough to have a festival vibe, but small enough to create that intimate feel where it's easy to meet people.

BYC: Any final thoughts?

Matt: We hope this'll be a festival where you can tap into amazing artists, enjoy great music and let go dancing – whilst all the time elevating your health with world-class yoga/meditation sessions and the pure organic food of the Satyananda ashram – a festival where you come away feeling better at the end of it than you did at the start!

The Phoenix Weekend takes place Friday, February 3rd – Sunday, February 5th 2012 at the Satyananda Ashram in Mangrove Mountain (1.5 hours north of Sydney). John Ogilvie will be teaching Friday, 4-6pm and Saturday, 9:30 – 11:30.

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