SALT LAKE CITY — One man's dream to give yoga to the people brought many together this weekend.
Cars lined either side of the street leading up to the Salt Lake City Krishna Center, 965 E. 3370 South, Sunday evening. Inside, yogis wrapped up their classes on the second day of the Great Salt Lake Yoga Fest. The festival continues Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Santosh Maknikar runs the non-profit Yoga For People which brings classes to homeless shelters, mental institutions, prisons and other populations that may not have the opportunity otherwise. They also offer free classes in local studios so everyone can experience the practice.
Maknikar organized the 4th annual festival, another effort to bring yoga to the population at large. The cost is $35 for a day or $70 for the weekend, a fraction of the cost of other festivals. Those from at-risk populations can qualify for a discounted rate during the festival. Events include workshops, seminars, music and food.
"It's just a great opportunity to meet teachers from all over the country, if not the world," said Paula Oakey, who has been attending the festival since its inception. "It's truly coming from the heart. It's not about making money, it's about sharing yoga."
The first year the festival was offered Maknikar emailed 70 instructors to gauge their interest in teaching. Nine responded and only three were willing to teach for free. The word has since spread and 40 instructors responded this year from across the country and world, including India and Costa Rica. They each paid their own airfare and will teach for free through the weekend.
"We get the best of the best teachers," Maknikar said.
So far this year's festival has attracted more than 300 people. It is sponsored by Best Western, Athleta, Hugger Mugger and Kaiteki.
When asked what is appealing about the practice, instructors and students said it was the way it made them feel.
"I think in our constantly moving world, like we're increasingly getting more fast paced," said Nadine Cobourne, who flew in from Jamaica. "We're looking for something to keep us grounded and so that resonates with a lot of people. It helps keep us centered."
According to Maknikar, even though each workshop or class is led by an instructor, each person can create their own type of yoga practice, spiritually or physically focused. Classes range from those for beginners to those for people who want to have a deeper yoga practice.
"People who haven't done yoga, they should come and try it because there are a lot of varities of yoga and it's the most affordable place that you can come and experience," he said. "It's the best way to spend your Labor Day weekend.
Those who are interested in the festival can come to the Salt Lake Krishna Center beginning at 9 a.m., Monday. Those interested in Yoga For People can visit their website, yogaforpeople.org.