Erik Vienneau, the mastermind behind the popular summer series Yoga Rocks the Park, doesn't confine his downward-dog activities to sunny summer days. Tonight is the launch of the second year of his Friday Night Yoga Club; we caught up with Vienneau to talk about what's new this year, how he selects the studios and instructors, and his partnership with the Chanda Plan Foundation.
Westword: Can you tell us about what's new at Friday Night Yoga Club this year?
Erik Vienneau: We've added a lot. We're going for more of an integrative medicine angle, so we now have chiropracters who are going to come give sample adjustments, plus acupuncture and Thai massage. You come to do the yoga, but you can also take care of your body in other ways. We try to run every week, and we have one more mid-December -- we didn't want to do too much during the holidays -- but January through March, it'll be every Friday.
What's the response been like?
The response has been great, people love that they can see a different studio each week. So I have a bunch of different nomad yogis. Most people stick to a certain studio that they really like, but every week it's a different studio, different teacher, different music. So if you come to all of them, you'll get to see fourteen different studios, teachers and musicians. And they might never have found that if they didn't go on tour. It's kind of like dating to find the right studio.
Tell us about the food at Friday Night Yoga Club.
This year we're getting more organic; we partnered with Watercourse and City O' City, so we'll have vegetarian organic food. Last year, my favorite story was that this recently divorced woman was looking to socialize again, and she started going out with her friends and partying, and that was her favorite part of our event -- she could go socialize, do something healthy, you're home by ten and you still feel great. And you can still party on Saturday.
How do you go about selecting the musicians?
The first thing is, willl they flow well with a yoga class? And everyone we have chosen is familiar with playing along with a yoga class, so it doesn't become a distraction, it actually deepens the practice. Most of the DJs are downtempo, we have one or two upbeat house DJs for the yoga instructors with a more upbeat practice. The live music is tailored for more of a spiritual kind of experience, like world music and that kind of sound, lots of tablas and percussion.
How do you select the types of yoga and the teachers that you offer?
For types, we just try to offer a wide array, so everyone can experience different types of yoga, so we have acro-yoga, Vinyasa flow, Anusara, and we kind of stick to the ones most people know and are more mainstream, so everyone's comfortable. And my main criteria for teachers, my main question is, "Do they see yoga as more than just a great workout?" I want teachers who see it as a vehicle for people to find true peace in their life. And if you're that kind of teacher, with a fun, outgoing personality, and a local following, then you're my guy or girl. They have to have that intention to really want to help people.
Can you tell us about the nonprofit beneficiary this year?
The Chanda Plan Foundation gets ten percent and it's such a good match. It's fighting with the government to get integrative therapies covered by insurance. And that ties in well, because we offer those modalities as the social part of the night.
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Tonight's sold-out event starts at 5:30 p.m. at Kindness Yoga, 1947 South Broadway; visit www.fridaynightyogaclub.com to get tickets ($20 in advance, $25 at the door) to future events. (And watch this space for a giveaway to the next Friday Night Yoga Club on Friday, December 16!)