What’s more prairie than festivals and nature? Add in a little yoga and you’ve yourself a wonderfully unique festival found right outside of Winnipeg. The Prairie Love Festival is a weekend in Birds Hill Provincial Park full of hippie kind of love, yoga, meditation, workshops, and of course, shopping. There is a Mindful Market where you can pick out goodies that are local and handmade, from paper products made from Elephant poop and recycled paper to beautifully crafted jewelry and yoga wear to apothecary essentials. I spent more money than I care to admit at this part of the festival. There is also a – FREE! – braid bar that ensured ladies looked as basic and beautiful as possible while they wandered the site in search of enlightenment and their next yoga practice. I chose the coveted braid crown and felt as if I should be frolicking through a meadow of wildflowers as dandelions and daisies were woven into my hair by flow-y angel/friends of mine dressed all in white.
The festival, however, got off to a rocky start with vendors not open in time for hungry and caffeine-starved yogis. But, as the day went on, winkles were smoothed out and utter relaxation set in. Or, maybe it was – finally – getting that morning coffee. Regardless, the weekend stretched forward into class after class after lunch after shopping with so many workshops to choose from.
My favourite? Forest Bath. This workshop included everything I love about yoga and the yoga lifestyle. There was meditation, nature, education, and essential oils all rolled into one hour and a half session. During and afterwards you feel like a Nature Goddess. The meditation, the soft music playing, the rustling of the leaves as the trees sway and talk in the breeze, it all brings you into the most relaxed state you will ever feel, the high staying long after the class is over. A mist and oil is applied during the practice: specific tree medicine that the instructor used from Sweet Spirit Apothecary similar (or the actual real deal – I’m just going off my nose) to this oil here. It’s an elixir that makes you feel rooted, calm, and at peace with everything.
But, don’t worry, not everything about the festival is about meditation, essential oils, and feeling like a flow-y hippie mess. There were a few workshops that were so intense, crying ensued. My favourite, and last workshop of the weekend, was a speakeasy about the path to creativity and business from yoga. The speaker, Alex Mazerolle (a really cool woman – look her up), was amazing and really spoke to the audience. On more than one occasion did someone tear up; not from just the tough situations that Alex spoke about, but the turmoil and the want and the need that was, and still is, running through every single person at the festival. I find it no coincidence that the last class of the festival (for me at least) was not only comfortably chill in regards to no work-out, but also wondefully intense emotionally.
There’s also a little bit of something for everyone. I’m a weekend kind of hippie and yogi; I like to partake in everything as loving and nature-inward as I can at festivals such as these, but know that a full life like this isn’t for me. My favourite thing to do is mix things together. Old with the new, expensive with the cheap, science with the spiritual ‘science’. You know, have a bath with crystals and rub essential oils onto your skin before bed and in the morning, but head to the doctor for some good ol’ western medicine kind of living. Believe it or not, you can actually find this at Prairie Love. Stardust Glow Flow was an excellent workshop with an adorably funny yoga teacher who exhausted your muscles while educating you on a little something about the planet and stars.
This festival runs every late summer with over 70 workshops, costs about $180 for the 2-day weekend pass (three day passes and day passes were also available, plus free classes open to the public) with a winter day spin-off called Snowflake (tune in at the end of January for a review of that blissful experience). This year was the first year it ran at Birds Hill Provincial Park in the Folk Fest event space and I hope it continues on there. Camping in the campground as the leaves began to turn colours and cool evenings set in made the festival even more special and let you become more in tune with nature. For those who aren’t into a full weekend of camping, the festival was easy-access from the city with a shuttle running from the Fort Garry Hotel taking guests who jumped on the promotional pricing of their expensive, but luxurious rooms, into the festival grounds.
Pro tip: You’re going to want to do everything, but don’t.
Taking it easy is important during festivals, and especially during one that promotes inner love and body health so much as Prairie Love. You may want to do and see everything, but it is next to impossible. Do one flow class on a half empty stomach and you’ll feel wiped for the rest of the day. Take that break, meditate in the forest and definitely – definitely stay hydrated and remember to eat. Remember that unwinding in a forest journaling, reading, or napping is part of the experience. Drink it in and don’t feel shamed at not doing everything. When your body says it’s had enough contortions (and even meditation) for one day, call it quits. Unwind in another way and get ready for the next day. Your body may feel relaxed, but intense meditation sessions can also make you emotionally exhausted.
Yoga, meditation, finding out more about yourself, it’s all fantastic. But, the best part of the festival? That the idea of checking your phone seems ludicrous and as the weekend stretches on the need to do so abandons you. Sure, there are millions of selfies being taken by every lady there, but only to show the world how cute they are. After a quick insta-post, they’re right back at relaxing and integrating into the yogi world that was made by Prairie Love.
The sun shines, warming your body, you look to the sky and see nothing but blue and tree tops. This is Prairie Love.
Looking for super cute and affordable yoga mats? I wrecked mine during the festival (stones and sticks do not work well under mats) and would have cried if I spent tons of my beautiful mat. Luckily, Gaiam has you covered:
Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat, Sundial Layers, 6mm