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Two-day yoga festival takes over NewBo neighborhood Aug. 19-20

Fields of Yogis designed for longtime enthusiasts and first-timers

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By Francie Williamson, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — How does one become bendy if they never try?

That’s a question Ally Thompson is addressing as she makes plans for the inaugural Fields of Yogis yoga festival coming to the NewBo neighborhood in Cedar Rapids Aug. 19-20.

Thompson, who works at Heat Yoga inside the Town and Country Shopping Center, 3607 First Ave. SE, said she’s working to create an event that appeals to longtime yoga enthusiasts and those who have never attempted a downward dog pose.

“I think a lot of people have a fear of yoga, like you have to be bendy like a pretzel to do it,” Thompson said. “But that’s not the case, you just have to show up. And you’ll never get bendy if you never try.”

Fields of Yogis is to feature a variety of yoga styles, including acro, aerial, hatha, Iyengar, ashtanga and vinyasa. Instruction in belly dancing, burlesque, singing bowls and meditation also is planned.

Thompson said she has attended yoga festivals all over North America and wondered why Cedar Rapids didn’t have one.

“I think we went to the Dubuque yoga festival, and I said we need something like this in Cedar Rapids,” Thompson said. “It’s the second largest city (in Iowa) and it makes no sense we don’t have this.”

Thompson is teaming up with her friend Lexi Matthews, an event coordinator, to produce the Fields of Yogis festival. Among the instructors headlining the festival are Mindy Sisco, M.C. Sweet and Gina Caputo.

“Everything has been a learning experience. I’ve been talking to people I never imagined I would talk to; idols in the yoga world,” Thompson said.

The festival is expected to take over the NewBo neighborhood, including the lawn in front of NewBo City Market, the green space near Bottleworks, the gazebo at the wedding garden, the Cherry Building and Water Tower Plaza, Thompson said.

“We’re trying to keep everything close,” she added.

Passes are available at www.fieldsofyogis.com/passes. A single-day pass costs $85 and a two-day pass costs $125. Individual workshops cost $30 each. Yoga studio students can purchase two tickets for $160.

Thompson said the fees are to help cover the cost of presenters, catering and space. She’s hoping to donate some of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cedar Rapids.

“I have no idea if we’re going to profit. I just need people to show up and like it,” Thompson said. “This is a labor of love for me. I’m doing a lot of work for love.”

The schedule for the festival is at www.fieldsofyogis.com/schedule.

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