World Class Rasa-Lila Yoga Festival Returns to Area

On March 30-31, the divine dance of love, health and wellness returns to Odessa.

The Rasa-Lila Festival, meaning the divine dance of love, will be marking its second fantastic year in March.

Festival creator and Yoga Tampa Bay founder Nathan Bangs and his team have had a year to plan the festival, and the lineup shows it.

“This year we wanted to offer a lot of variety but still make it affordable to all of the community,” Bangs said. This year will include a variety of yoga classes and instructors. Not only will there be double the yoga, there will also be double the meditation, wellness lectures and an all-new lecture series.

Bangs wanted teachers who didn’t get an opportunity to teach last year to present this year.

“Rasa-Lila is all about offering the community a great wealth of talented teachers and to give them a platform to present the art of yoga,” he said.

Many Classes Will Feature Live Music

Kicking off the two-day festival on Friday, March 30, is Moses Love of the I Love Yoga apparel brand, who will be teaching with local recording artist, musician and radio personality ELUV. The journey of asana and the jouney of sound will be a divine way to begin the weekend. All net proceeds from the opening night will be donated to the nonprofit Rasa-Lila Cares, a public charity created to support yoga teachers and their immediate families.

There will be three stages for yoga: two canopy-covered local yoga talent stages, which will host hourly classes, and a main stage for 90-minute master classes.

Last year, most classes were taught with live and recorded music. This year, Bangs has encouraged all presenters to use live music or no music.

Talent Will Come From Far and Wide

These master classes will also start a new tradition of offering regional and national teaching talent: instructors Karina Hahn Harrison from Jacksonville, Nathalie Croix from New Orleans, Will Duprey from Miami, Jaye Martin from Sarasota, Tymi Howard from Central Florida and my husband, Eric Wheeler, from Tampa.

Eric will be teaching the Rasa Fire yoga class with live music from Mandala Namaskar. Not only will he be accompanied by the setting sun, fire-lit torches and large fire pits lighting the stage and practice; there will also be Hoola Monsters performing all around the Mandala (the circle) tribe of practitioners, with the artistry that is fire-hooping. Wil Duprey will be teaching backbending and pranavayu with just the sound of nature and the chanting of mantras from his wife, Susan Duprey.

The two stages featuring the local teaching talent include Adrienne Reed teaching Healthy Hips, Ally Neal Ford teaching the Ashtanga Primary Series, Chay S. Prieto teaching Vinyasa Flow Level 2, Cindy Mastry teaching Partner Yoga, and Elizabeth Pope bringing the art of Forrest Yoga, just to name a few!

Events Are Designed for Entire Family

The Festival within the festival is the Rasa-Lila Children’s Festival. This area of the festival will have classes that cover all ages from 9-5 p.m. Most coincide with the adult classes, and there will even be a Family Yoga time with me!

Some of the teachers joining to help make our community of children and young adults find the dance of love within themselves are: Abby Albaum, whose Hoola Monsters will be there to lead a hoop class for tweens and teens; Karen Kessel, who will be teaching Little Tykes; Heather DeRigo, who will lead a Drum Circle for all ages; Jeanette Just-Schaefer, who will be teaching 5-9 elementary yogaKatie Lee Toth, who will teach Peace Around the World Yoga, and there will also be Kirtan for Kids! It always gets me excited to have yoga include all ages; it’s important to give our children options for releasing emotions, too, and yoga and meditation are healthy ways to help them grow with tools that can eventually help them find their truest selves. 

There are plenty of non-yoga activities for the 18-and-up crowd, including kayaking, paddle boarding and rock climbing. Another way to get a break from the physical practice of yoga is the plethora of workshops and lectures.

Festival Geared Toward Range of Backgrounds

The growth of the yoga industry is astounding compared to even 10 years ago. The number of studios and yoga programs is growing very fast, even faster than the number of people training to become a yoga teacher.

“It’s important that our local teaching talent be able to make a living doing their art; that’s the reason we added the business of yoga series,” Bangs said. The business of yoga lectures are important to a community of teachers who are, for the most part, independent contractors. It’s hard to think of oneself, especially a yogi, as a small business, but we are.

Festivalgoers will have a choice of 28 workshops, plus breathwork and meditation classes, including i-Rest Nidra, led by Annie Okerlin of Yogani studios; meditation for beginners, led by Bella Prana owner Roni Sloman; meditation for healing, taught by the Rev. Maggie Batt; and more.

Let's not forget the vendor village! There will be more than 75 local artists, food vendors and wellness sponsors. Still, I recommend packing a picnic lunch or snacks and PLENTY of water!

If You Go

When Wunderlust was in Miami last year, the cost for the weekend was well over $600, not including accommodations or travel costs. Bangs says he always wanted the festival “to be accessible to everyone, including the whole family!”

Rasa-Lila Fest has doubled its offerings, but the prices are still reasonable:

  • Pre-Fest Rasa Lila Cares event (Friday, March 30), $20 
  • Day pass (Saturday, March 31), $45 
  • Two-Day Fest Package, $60
  • Half-Day Package (6-9 p.m.), $25 
  • Ages 13-18, $25
  • Age 12 and younger, free with an adult paid admission 

Ticket sales will be cash only on the day of the event. That is super deal.

You can also rent a tent and space on-site when you purchase your tickets, or you can find accommodations just minutes from the campsite. For information, check out the Rasa-Lila Fest website. Use the discount code "patch" for 10% off your purchase.

Bangs is really bringing his vision to life by making it so affordable for a family, and our community, to have a great day out in a healthy environment.

“It’s about getting together with healthy-minded people, exploring the layers of yoga and experiencing it all together with our friends and families,” he said.

I’ll be there with my family; I hope to see you!



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