AURA Music & Arts Festival begins next weekend, promising a big weekend of music, community, and fun. The lineup is impressive, with Thievery Corporation, Disco Biscuits, Snarky Puppy, ALO, The Werks, and more playing big sets at the promise land known as the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park.
In addition to the music, AURA also makes it a point to bring some of the best yoga out of any festival out there. To preview some of the programming, we linked up with Joaquin Antonio, the Yoga & Healing Arts Director for the festival. Check out the chat below
Hey Joaquin! How’s it going?
Greetings Chris. Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview. I am, well. Super grateful that life is giving me some really good lessons and lots of cool opportunities.
How long have you been practicing yoga? How long have you been teaching?
Yoga values, breathing and meditation were seeded in me by my mother since very young. In those days both my mother and my older sister would attend and bring me to meditation Satsangs at the local Siddha Yoga Meditation center in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was born and grew up in Mexico, where I lived a privileged life until I was 17. As a kid I played competitive golf, a game that to be good at requires much skill in visualization and concentration, and breath and body awareness. Golf eventually was my ticket into the U.S.
Years later, when at Eckerd College during freshman year in 2001, I took an elective class: “Yogis Shamans and Mystics.” In that class, my eyes were opened to many parallels between Yoga, Tantra and Native American, Asian and European mystic traditions. Since then I’ve kept an open head and have done lots of experimentation with breathwork, energy work, yoga, medicine plants, dance, trance and music.
Between 2004 and 2006 I had my personal dark age. Drinking too much, partying too much, not dreaming at all. School was easy, I graduated college in 2005 with a huge rush to work and make money. So that’s what I did, those days I wasn’t doing anything other than working hard, eating bad, and drinking alcohol. I was in a rat-race life; I wasn’t happy and in general my outlook on a lot of things was negative.
I began practicing Hatha yoga in 2006 thanks to my girlfriend at the time who dragged me to my first Vinyasa class. At first I didn’t like it, i felt tight and out of place. However in the end, I was completely covered in sweat, my breath felt awesome and I was happy. In the beginning, I do admit a main reason to go to yoga was my wandering eye from my love of beautiful women. Bit by bit I got better at focus, I began to understand Yoga better, I began to understand myself better and the practice became 100% about me.
I began to practice with more discipline in 2009. I moved down to South Beach and I didn’t have very much money. Luckily till this day, many donation or free park and beach yoga classes are available in my city. That year I saved money and was able to pay and sign up for my first teacher training in 2010. I never intended to be a Yoga teacher or work in this profession, my intentions for the training were to deepen my understanding of my practice. I saw yoga like an orange, an orange i could only smell. I figured training would help me to learn how to peel and begin to eat the orange… I’ve been eating, this orange is infinite, this orange is consciousness.
I am a little bit impulsive. One day out of the blue, I quit the job i had at the time. My teacher training wasn’t even complete and I hadn’t even taught my first official class. That day, I woke up convinced I would teach yoga, and so the story goes, on and on.
I’ve been teaching Yoga since 2010. I am certified E-RYT 500 Yoga Alliance and AcroYoga.org Level 2 teacher. In the five years that I have been teaching, it has been constant study and have had the opportunity to teach and study with amazing teachers around the world.
From your view, how are yoga and music similar?
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
So AURA makes it a point to instill yoga and activities in a festy world that is predominantly about music. Why is it important for yoga to exist in festival culture?
I believe it’s important for Yoga to exist in our festival culture because it encourages more interconnectedness in how we celebrate life. Yoga at festivals creates opportunities for us to connect with each other in person in intentional and meaningful exercises that while being fun, also, facilitate growth and transformation. We meet each other and create awesome new friendships. We also connect with our higher self, Yoga helps us to be and think more clearly. Maybe the clarity helps us to make better choices. Its important to make good choices out here in the festival…
What we are doing at AURA is very important because it brings many talented teachers together in an avenue to share and present their offerings to a very open minded and receptive group of people. The music allows for this to happen, if it wasn’t for the festival, it would costs Thousands of dollars for an individual to attend a yoga retreat like what we are creating at AURA.
What can AURA patrons look forward to from the yoga program?
AURA patrons can look forward to an amazing lineup of presenters and yoga teachers. A transformational festival within AURA Music Festival. I like to call it Healing Arts Multimedia. A great variety of classes for all levels, ranging from active and acrobatic to slow and meditative. And not just Yoga: amazing music and sound healing, engaging and mind expansive lectures and workshops. Almost 30 amazing teachers AURAFAM at Suwannee all weekend long, come make friends with us.
What are you looking forward to getting out of the AURA yoga programming?
I’m really looking forward to experiencing as many of these healing arts offerings as possible. I’m getting a lot of experience out this programing, and it’s a real honor to be able to host so many other inspiring teachers to share with all of us. I’m excited to announce that I will be offering a 200 hour yoga teacher training coming early this summer. I hope to connect with aspiring yogis for the expansion of the BoomYoga vision and community.
Thanks for your time man. Anything else to add?
Thank you Chris for the interview. Thank you to Destiny [AURA PR rep] also. Hope to connect with you at AURA.