Yoga in the Woods Creates Unity in the Community

By Gabrielle Fellows

Shaker Woods in Columbiana will be the host of the first Yoga in the Woods festival on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Yoga in the Woods is the brainchild of Shannon Galvin and Lauren Verzilli, two yoga instructors that originate in the Mahoning Valley. The event is filled with different yoga classes and informational classes on crystals, health and well-being. Local vendors will also be present offering different organic, hand-made and specialty items for sale.

Galvin, originally from Columbiana, said she came up with the idea for Yoga in the Woods when she was driving home after moving from Chicago.

“I moved back to the area from Chicago, where I had lived for about 14 years. I was teaching at a yoga studio there that participated in a yoga festival called Sukhava Bodhe. It’s a local festival about two hours out of the city that’s held on a big plot of farmland. Driving back home from Chicago, I thought, how can I bring Sukhava Bodhe to Youngstown?” Galvin said. “I thought of Shaker Woods in Columbiana, since that’s where I grew up. I immediately thought, we can call it Yoga in the Woods! So I called Shaker Woods and they said that they’d want to host the event. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and needed someone fresh and young, and that’s when I called Lauren. She loved the idea and we went with it.”

Yoga in the Woods is expected to draw around 500 people. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children 12 years old and younger and can be purchased at the door. Attendees are encouraged to bring yoga mats, tents, coolers and anything else they need to keep comfortable throughout the day.

Galvin said the purpose of Yoga in the Woods is to bring a sense of togetherness in the community by providing an environment that is host to “everything good for your body, mind and soul.”

“This community is my heart. Coming here, it seemed like there was a lack of knowledge concerning what yoga could be and what it truly is. It has nothing to do with being the best teacher or being the best studio. It’s about unity,” Galvin said. “Uniting and embracing the local talent and beings in this area. The whole purpose of Yoga in the Woods is unity.”

Verzilli agrees, saying that Yoga in the Woods is supposed to create a peaceful domain where people in the community can experience or learn about the true meaning of yoga- togetherness and spirituality.

“I got into yoga through the spiritual aspect. I started overwhelmed and stressed, and I began with just the breathing,” Verzilli said. “After that, I realized all of the other benefits of it — spiritual, emotional and mental. The physical aspects came after, they were secondary. Yoga isn’t about being fit. It’s about being peaceful. We want to show people that side of yoga through Yoga in the Woods.”