Pausing for a moment to breathe, stretch or calm intense emotions can be good for anyone. The first Gather to Grow Community Yoga Festival invites people of all ages to give yoga and mindfulness a try.
Combining literacy, art, yoga and fun, the family-centered event is open to all ages and is intentionally designed so even toddlers can participate, said Cary A. Thrall, an organizer and founder of the festival.
“Gather to Grow is not only for children and families. It is also designed for yoga instructors interested in diversifying their understanding of yogic principles and how to apply them to teaching children. It is for educational and mental health professionals and all those who work with children of any age and in any capacity. All are welcome,” Thrall said.
The Gather to Grow Community Yoga Festival will take place July 15, 16 and 17 at Manuel Brothers Park in Lead. Admission starts at $25 per person per day. Participants can purchase a weekend pass or attend one day or a partial day of the festival. Go to eventbrite.com/e/252259985407 to register online, or register in person at the festival.
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Gather to Grow begins at 4 p.m. July 15 with on-site registration, followed by a community session of yoga and live music, concluding at 8:30 p.m. The festival opens at 9 a.m. July 16 with on-site registration. Morning and afternoon community sessions will be offered by yoga instructors, followed by music in the evening, concluding at 8:30 p.m.
On July 17, the festival opens at 8:30 a.m. with a family breakfast provided by Lynn’s Dakotamart, ending with a community meditation session and closing between noon and 1 p.m., Thrall said.
Live music throughout the festival will be performed by Kat Baum of Inner Voice Studios and Black Hills singer-songwriter Steve Thorpe. Thrall is also looking for shopping and food vendors who would like to participate.
Thrall is a certified educator who teaches youths of all ages statewide, including recent work with Early Learner South Dakota. Thrall has partnered with Tristyn Jackson, who teaches children’s yoga, and Emily Kutil and several community sponsors to present the Gather to Grow festival.
“It’s a good way for everyone to come together,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to present to the community that yoga is useful to everybody and bring families together. … It’s a way to understand the fundamentals of yoga and mindfulness and to create lifelong tools for our younger generations.”
Thrall said Gather to Grow is a family-friendly event because she believes children benefit from learning simple mindfulness and yoga techniques.
“(It’s) teaching young people how to breathe through a moment when they’re frustrated or having a really big emotion,” Thrall said. “Especially for our littles, some of their emotions are such a brand-new thing they don’t know how to manage their body or their experience.”
“We’re offering these educational opportunities for not only children and families, but anyone who might be supporting those people … whether it’s parents or auntie or an uncle or whether they’re working with kids,” she said.
Thrall owns and operates CAT Scratch Studios (Creative Arts and Therapies) in Lead. She specializes in yoga, meditation, and incorporating art and creativity into those practices.
“We can teach self-regulation at any age. It’s one of the most powerful things. Yoga helps people be flexible in their mind and body,” she said. “Then they have this capacity to be more of who they’re meant to be. It gives them time and space and flow, and I think that’s accessible at any age.”
“When families practice mindfulness together, it brings them closer. It’s so important,” Thrall said. “If families are interested in coming (to Gather to Grow), they can bring their babies. We are making a space for everyone. I think people can participate in any way that feels comfortable. They can do part of a session, or watch, or jump right in.”
Thrall believes learning and incorporating mindfulness can also enrich the entire community. She hopes those who attend will learn and build resilience through community connections, mindfulness and movement, literacy, art and an intentional focus on holistic health.
“By working with educational professionals, yoga instructors, mental health providers, cultural leadership and more, we provide unique experiences for children of all ages, families and our communities,” she said.
“It’s so easy, literally one minute of just breathing or just sitting and calming with someone,” Thrall said. “Even for the littles, just holding the space and holding a blanket or stuffed animal, or getting a nice tight hug for 30 seconds, it makes a stronger relationship and rapport.”
“If we can bring that to the community, then I think that would be one of the most amazing things. It will shift people. They’ll have the time and space to connect deeper to each other,” she said.
To sponsor Gather to Grow or for more information, go to catscratchstudios.org or contact Thrall at CAT Scratch Studios, 104 Curnow, Lead, SD 57754 Attn: Gather to Grow.