How I created a Yoga Festival

Aug 20, 2022

The idea for the festival was born 2 years ago when @KhanomYoga opened its doors, in Oct 31, 2020.

As a retreat and training center in a Thailand paradise beach, with so much to offer in way of Nature, variety of yoga practice space, cave temples and pink dolphins.

What  better way than to bring Thai and International teachers to one the most beautiful location in Asia?

Covid did not help.

In April, when Thailand began to suggest that borders will open, I realized that if that was true, August could be a good month for the festival. Almost 2 years after first day of classes.

Calendar revealed that August has the only Full Moon Friday in 2022.

Taking that as a good omen, the date was set for Aug 12-14, 2022.

Setting a date is nice.

Getting presenters, making a marketing plan, creating marketing material, building the CRM, managing room logistics and evening entertainment is the real challenge.

It so happened that I had to get my visa renewed on April 22. I was in Chiang Mai for less than 72 hours.

I wanted to make a yoga festival that offered new way of looking at the world. After all, that is truly what Yoga means, in my experience with ancient texts and daily practice.

A way of seeing the world we live in.

To quote Patanjali “yoga is calming the turning of our mind, and then we experience who we really are.”

To see who we really are. To unravel our full potential.

I was in Chiang Mai, I was sitting with @barakalmog for a hummus lunch, as we are both born and raised in Israel and I love chatting over a plate of hummus in Hebrew like I did when I was young.

Barak is an automation specialist who developed an online course about VA.

Knowing what a #VA (Virtual Assistant) is an invaluable knowledge.

It can totally change the way you see any project being created, let alone support for any type of a company.

I know. I have been using a VA since 2009 and I knew about VA in 2007, years before it would be “a thing.”

Having a business component in the festival was important to me.

It is as valuable as learning handstands if you are a yoga teacher.

So I asked Barak if he wanted to be in the festival.

I know he said yes because we are friends. As he was shocked at the invitation saying “I don’t do yoga.” To which I had to reply “you help other people, that is Yoga. Besides, knowing about a VA is going to be great for anyone who shows up. And you gotta see the paradise called Khanom.”

Thus I had my first presenter. Still shrouded in mystery, though I could see how relevant a social media VA talk is going to be.

In fact, I immediately messaged my VA, Mark Dave Soriano, who has been with GabeYogAcademy brand for over 10 years. The festival was on. I had dates, I had two presenters (Barak and Gabe Yoga), I had a venue (Khanom Yoga and Aava Resort&Spa). I asked Mark to sketch out some logo ideas for the festival and I set out to get more providers.

Khanom has a few local teachers. Saifon who teaches Muay Boran at Joy Villa Khanom, and Kru Su Yoga Khanom who has a home yoga studio.

I sent a LINE message to Kru Su and met with Saifon after his Muay Boran class.

They both agreed. The festival was growing. It was connecting local Khanom teachers and attracting business mindset. The idea was becoming a reality.

Mark sent over a few ideas. One, which combined elements from the logo he made for Khanom Yoga (by permission) was immediately uploaded to the Khanom Yoga Festival (which was later updated to Khanom Beach Yoga Festival to reflect the inclusiveness of the event).

It was time to reach other teachers.

A landing page inviting applicants, sending messages to as many of the teachers I knew in Thailand, as well as leaving comments on teachers Facebook and Instagram accounts had many responses.

To all who wrote and responded - thank you so much! Reach out if you want to be in the next festival Jan 13, 2023 (who will join us for Friday the 13th Festival? Share with those you think will find this valuable).

The time spent in Chiang Mai, short as it was, created new connections that impacted the festival.

The day after I met Barak, I was sitting with Aviv, at his restaurant Sabbaba, just before the weekly crypto MeetUp that is hosted there. Excited about my festival seed planted in the ground, I talked about it with the small group that was there. If I could get a person to talk about Crypto and how if relates to the wellness and yoga world, that would be awesome!

Aviv’s restaurant manager Raul, really liked my idea and invited me to send him more info to share with the community he knows in Pai. The post he shared got the attention of Ananta who also agreed to be in the festival.

And it was just May.

With a scare of Covid toward the end of the month, all seemed on track for no PCR TEST and easy entry to Thailand.

With one of my best friends Joshua, coming to Chiang Mai after 3 years, I planned to go to Chiang Mai in June and talk with studio and teachers face to face and possibly increase the number of participants.

It took Mark and I all of May to work out the poster design and the khanombeachyogafestival.con website.

I reached out to my friend Aaron a week before flying north, as his wife knows a few studios in Thailand. Aaron connected me with Jay Jay, and since I was about to be in Chiang Mai, we met on my second day in the city.

Little did I know that Jay Jay is a master in design (among many things). I met him and his wife and son, who loved the concept of the festival.

By the end of our 2 hour coffee meeting Jay Jay had a vision that turned into the main festival branding. Super thanks brother!

Jay Jay connected Vari Morales who was excited about the project, and agreed to come share pranayama and meditation.

With my friend Josh recovering from a hip replacement, we had plenty time to catch up, share and brainstorm about my festival ideas.

During one of the early sessions Josh pointed out to teachers we know through our Thai Massage master, Pichest Boonthume. I messaged them, and Sebastian Bruno was in.

With Jay Jay poster and postcard design printed, Joy (Laura) and I went around the city asking coffee shops, yoga studios, and restaurants if we can hang out poster and leave our cards.

2 days after the Facebook ad campaign was launched Aava Resort called to ask for exact details (which were still being completed). It seems someone already booked a room for the festival. The idea was no longer a seed.

It was a stalk getting ready to blossom.

Upon returning to Khanom, I had in mind to set out to Ko Samui and Ko Pangan to meet with those who agreed to come as well as meet with potential presenters. I also wanted to complete an NFT project that would be highlighted in the festival.

Kru Moo in Samui was super excited to join, and took a stack of festival cards to share with her community.

We met Lars and Elena in Ko Pangan who also agreed to come and share their AcroYoga.

The regular posts and ads on Instagram and Facebook got the attention of Peemai Noppiyachai from Reboot Fitness Retreat who agreed to come and share Zumba at the festival.

With 12 providers, it was time to find a band, a DJ, and complete the NFT project (which has been in planning since Jan 2022).

Seeing some of the locals from Khanom, I spoke with ArtTea Bcn, who happens to DJ at Johnny Bar&Camping every Friday, agreed to DJ on Saturday, while Sweet Power, a local reggae band agreed to play on Friday night.

During the search for a band, it dawned that the festival weekend is the holiday weekend for the previous Queen birthday, also considered to be Mother’s Day.

It was going to be a busy weekend.

Bamboo Resort Khanom was gracious to help festival with good rates to house all the traveling presenters.

I spent hours learning VS code and Solidity. I used a VA to help me with layers on photoshop, and then I used a Fiverr VA to help me create a story board for my project.

The is a Kali Goddess collection, following the story line that Kali is shocked at the challenges women continue to face today, from abortion rights to tabloid news of abuse. Kali explodes into the Web 3 universe so that people can mint her energy and use it to help others through classes, scholarships, Yoga 2 Earn and more. 

Stickers and branding features were inserted into Festival marketing material, and a session on ‘NFT & Yoga’ was add to the schedule. The first NFT talk to be held in a Yoga Festival. Remember where you first heard about it.

Aava began its Friday buffet on Aug 5th, so the festival had a gorgeous beach dinner set up.

The local sign company (ขนอมศิลป์ ทำป้ายขนอม) helped make all the street signs and last minute signs for the rooms and schedule for each room.

As well as the gorgeous wings poster.

Discovering that a guy I frequently see in town, Toss Tammarat, manages a decoration company and is an incredible artist, we met and he helped create fabric at the yoga cloud and yoga deck rooms, beach bamboo tipi like structures and put festival posters across the towns around Khanom.

All we could do was breathe and await the arrival of presenter and participants.

That’s when I got the message on Joy’s phone that Eugene (AcroYoga Coach) is in Surat Thani.

It was Wednesday morning.

He wrote on Instagram about possibly coming thru on Friday opening and maybe doing some demo.

I knew Joy Villa Khanom could house him, so he could get a discount.

When he wrote on Joy phone, I decided it would be easier to call.

Turns out he was going to ko Phangan.

I convinced him Khanom would be better. He shared he has a drone and Joy immediately got excited and was willing to give her room for free in exchange for drone footage.

And hour later he was on the bus to Khanom.

I picked him up at the bus station and we went to see the magic of this area. A gorgeous road down the beach.

Some AcroYoga in the middle of the road was the first flight of the drone.

At the first section of the cliff road side, there was a scare when the drone battery died and it just landed somewhere.

It was right on the road (thankfully).

Barak arrived on Thursday afternoon, and while he was getting things at 7-11, Eugene, Joy and i headed to Aava for last minute look at the venue. Eugene also wanted to test the SUP Board for his SUP AcroYoga demo.

After practicing on a board on land, we headed out to sea.

The board I was on proved to be a little too small, and while trying to film, the phone and I ended up in the water.

Waterproof as it might be, my iPhone needed to go to the shop and this I was left without a phone the night before festival began.

Trusting in the universe, I had a spontaneous idea for pink dolphin trip on opening Friday morning.

It turned out to be the most active dolphin tour I have had in my 15 years leading retreats and taking this tour twice a year.

After setting all my signage at Aava, Eugene and I did a quick run to Samet Chun waterfall run that should lead to some killer drone footage.

With local and out of town participants, 4 days of no rain (where in the last 45 days there was rain at least once a day), full moon rising on both Friday and Saturday. Incredible programs, scrumptious food, and a chance opportunity of drone footage because of Eugene.

A local Khanom photographer friend, Deanna Denis, helped capture still photos (she took all the Picts in this post except for the rainbow) from the entire festival (more picts coming).

Comments were overwhelmingly positive.

Weather perfect.

And at the end of the festival we headed up to a different waterfall to celebrate.

Will you be with us in Jan for the next celebration?

I hope so.