Hamilton’s YogaFest Inspires People to Be the Change for MAPS
Interview with Chelsea Ladd
Hamilton, Ontario-based YogaFest billed its 2019 summer festival as “A Day of Wonder”, and for supporters of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, it was just that. The opportunity for the Yogis Unite for MAPS team to have a presence at the festival and share about MAPS with attendees came together less than two days before the event began. A grassroots initiative, Yogis Unite invites yogis to inspire action to protect all life through safeguarding our most critical ecosystem, the Arctic Ocean. On a hot and humid July day, Yogis Unite volunteers Uttama Anderson and Karen Soper found themselves amongst a receptive community. Sixty people joined Yogis Unite on the spot. This month, Parvati Magazine spoke with YogaFest’s coordinator Chelsea Ladd about her take on one of the best ways to boost your happiness, and why YogaFest immediately supported MAPS.
Parvati Magazine: Within hours of hearing about Yogis Unite for MAPS, you made arrangements to set up a MAPS tent at YogaFest. What inspired you to make that happen?
Chelsea Ladd: YogaFest was founded on the ideals of creating a welcoming community, so we are always open to the idea of expanding our YogaFest family. After speaking with Uttama for the first time and hearing her passion, dedication and drive to create awareness around MAPS, it was clear that we had very similar values and goals, so it was a no-brainer to have MAPS volunteers at the event.
Parvati Magazine: The Yogis Unite team felt so welcomed by your YogaFest community and were able to sign up dozens of new members. What do you love most about being part of this yoga community?
Chelsea Ladd: This was my first year with the YogaFest team, and I am so honoured that I was asked to join. The passion that every person brings is palpable, and everyone is there because they genuinely care about helping others find the light and beauty in every moment. In this community, everyone encourages, accepts, and motivates each other to become the best version of themselves, and we love watching the magic unfold. It really is a very special event, with a vibe that I have never experienced anywhere else.
Parvati Magazine: The activities at YogaFest were intended to help each person reconnect with their inner child. Why is this of value for all of us and our world? Can you share some ways you love bringing these activities to a group?
Chelsea Ladd: This was such an important focus for us this year because in this day and age, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and forget to take time in your day to appreciate how truly wondrous the world around us is. To us, replicating the playfulness and fun a child has when looking at the world is such a great way to illustrate how fast and effective taking this view of the world uplifts your mood and spirit.
At YogaFest, we use art, live music, dance, and food to encourage the inner child in all of us to come out and play. Every year our Art Director and the team create interactive art installations that are placed throughout the festival. This year’s festival was an eight-hour outdoor event, where we got poured on for at least two of those hours. Instead of everyone being upset and feeling that the day was spoiled, we had everyone dancing in the rain with us!
Parvati Magazine: How has practicing karma yoga, selfless service, enabled you to tap into the state of unity, joy, and mindfulness?
Chelsea Ladd: It is a constant reminder to be aware of how I am showing up in the world, and more importantly as whom. Creating this self-awareness helps me remember that we are all on the journey together, to always have compassion and gratitude for everyone.
Parvati Magazine: Yogis Unite for MAPS is a global movement that inspires yogis to respond to the humanitarian and ecological crisis our world is facing through MAPS. Could you give us your thoughts on how a yogic mindset can spark the need to act for change and the greater good?
Chelsea Ladd: The yogic mindset is that of union, and checking your ego at the door. For me, that means leaning on others to accomplish things as a collective, instead of trying to go at it alone. To me, there is no faster way to spark change and create impact than by bringing together a group of like-minded people, from all walks of life, with different areas of expertise and personalities, through a cause they are all called to.
Chelsea Ladd is the Sponsorship and Vendor Director at YogaFest, founded in Hamilton in 2015 to inspire community and conscious action. Its festivals are a celebration of human expression, created with the intention for all who attend to experience happiness. These interactive festivals always include yoga, wonder, dance, art, stillness, a conscious vendor marketplace, live music performances, delicious food and more!