I met Joann and Ted Burnham last year at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, when they attended the Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 Teacher Training that I was leading. The YTU training is an intense week packed with challenging classes, mind-scrambling new information and tons of homework. Many-a-trainee finds the week incredibly overwhelming. For me, part of leading it is helping manage their frazzled emotions and fried nerves.

But Joann and Ted were abnormally calm and centered. Yes, they confronted their own “body blind spots” in different moments, as everyone does, and bumped up against new learning edges. But each new challenge seemed to be absorbed into a great reservoir of delighted serenity they brought with them… all the way from the island of Nantucket.

Which made me wonder, was this rare serenity a taste of the energy of the island? And how can I get some of it?

Ted & Joann – the “Mama and the Papa” of the Nantucket Yoga Festival

Good news for me, Joann and Ted are the owners of Dharma Yoga Nantucket, and founders of the Nantucket Yoga Festival. And a few weeks after the training they reached out and invited me to present at the festival. Yes! I responded, without asking any questions about logistics, compensation or anything else normal professional people would ask.

I had the feeling there would be something very special about getting to teach on the history-rich, wildly natural little island of Nantucket, MA this July.

People travel from around the world to experience these pristine beaches of Nantucket

What is the Nantucket Yoga Festival?

The Nantucket Yoga Festival brings together the very best yoga instructors, wellness experts and healthy living guides for one inspiring weekend. By coming together to explore ways to find a happier, healthier more peaceful way of living we can begin to affect positive change in our community and ultimately in the world around us. (from the NYF website) This year the festival will run Friday-Sunday, July 6-8.

The festival is set on the ocean-view land of Bartlett’s Farm — which is Nantucket’s oldest and largest family-owned farm. (This family has been there since the early 1800s!). It’s the perfect setting to experience the wild nature of the island, with its rich history.

The Nantucket Yoga Festival tent set on breezy beachside farmland

How did the festival come to be?

Well… as the story goes, Joann and Ted met when Joann was on a work trip from New York City to Nantucket as a wine rep. Ted was co-owner of a local restaurant, Joann was swinging by to share the wine, they wound up sitting next to each other, and, well, let’s just say it was on from then on.

Within a couple years they were married, and Joann made the big transition from being a 25-year Manhattanite to slowing waaaay down to Nantucket life.

“How was that transition?” I recently asked Joann when we were chatting on the phone.

“After living in the city for 25 years, the thing I love most about being here on Nantucket is the lack of distraction. There are so many things to do in New York that bring you outside yourself. Here, focusing on nature and inside myself… It’s given me the opportunity to really settle.”

Historic downtown Nantucket has homes that date back to the 1600’s! (Plus cobblestones and ice cream.)

Ted and Joann were both yoga enthusiasts and opened Dharma Yoga Nantucket together. Then, seven years ago they hosted their first Nantucket Yoga Festival.

“So what made you decide to start the festival?” I asked Joann.

“The original inspiration for the festival came from being here in Nantucket in the summer and noticing that there was a lot of separation between the different people on the island,” shared Joann. “Some people are year-round residents, others have summer homes, others are on vacation… We thought, how interesting and wonderful would it be if we could bring them all together into one positive, collective consciousness…?

“There is a very special and unique energy here on Nantucket,” Joann continued. “And the festival brings in a really broad range of people, which makes me happy. Those who have summer homes, vacationers and people who come just for the festival. Last year we had people from 11 states and three countries.”

“So what’s your favorite feedback about the festival?” I asked.

I could hear Joann smiling as she spoke over the phone, “People say they feel like they are living in a love bubble for the weekend and they want to carry it with them wherever they go.”

How to Come to the Festival

If you’d like to come to the festival, get on it! Like I said, it’s Friday-Sunday July 6-8, 2018. Bring your family. Bring your friends. Bring your lover. Or come by yourself. You can rent a cottage or room on AirBnB. Also, insider secret, Joann told me about a gorgeous hostel overlooking the ocean for just $55/night.

I’ll be teaching three workshops at the festival. First, my signature workshop “The Yoga of Self Confidence”. Plus two Yoga Tune Up®-based workshops: “Complete Core Awakening” and “Why Down Dog Shouldn’t Hurt”. Plus I’ll be finding a little time to do this:

Watching the sunset from the beach

Back to Joann and Ted

Before getting off the phone with Joann, I asked her one more question: “What unique qualities do you and Ted each bring to the festival?”

“Ah, no one has ever asked me that before…” replied Joann. “Well, Ted’s strength is that he is an unwavering source of support when things feel overwhelming. His quiet strength is a support that needs to be there to get everything done.”

“How about yours?” I asked.

“I love the creative aspect,” said Joann. “Creating something from nothing: A dream, an idea, a thought — then putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. We both love doing it together, the energy that comes with all of these wonderful, beautiful, knowledgeable beings that come to the island… there’s a great sense of fulfillment after the festival is done when we wake up on Monday morning.”



Leave a Reply