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The Importance of Yoga at Conventions:

The Garden State Comic Fest in Atlantic City was held April 7-8 at the Showboat Hotel. No longer a casino, the hotel provided ample space for a comic con this size and the set up was wonderfully organized from what I saw. Some friends from the Legion of Super Villians cosplay group were volunteers to help direct the flow of traffic which never seemed to be congested anyway. The only confusion I did face was that people kept getting the wrong information about the Orleans ballroom for panels, namely to see the panel with the Teenage Mutants Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman. A few people came up to the second floor Heart & Soul room which was other panels including the Yoga class I taught.

Even this morning, I’m reading tweets by professional comic artists Jamie McKelvie, Phil Jimenez, and Jamal Igle about the importance of taking care of your body with stretching, time off, nutrition, and ergonomic workspaces.

Tweet from Jamal Igle

I specifically planned out the Geek Yoga class for the convention to appeal to the creators who would be at their vendor tables all day (artists usually hunched over while doing commissions); and for attendees hauling heavy backpacks up and down aisles.

Part of yoga’s principles is honesty, satya or truthfulness, so I will be honest here: I wish more people had shown up for the class.

Why was there need for yoga at a comic con?

If it’s not obvious, people abuse the heck out of themselves at conventions.

  • long hours walking more than you’re used to
  • carrying extra bags/weight
  • wearing awkward attire that limits comfort and mobility (costumes)
  • not getting enough sleep
  • consuming junk instead of hydrating
  • extra drinking/smoking
  • different workspace than you’re used to at your studio
  • overloading stimuli from every direction (much more socializing, being “on” to make sales, public speaking at panels, posing for photos, noise everywhere, etc.)

There are plenty of creators in the comics world who have talked about injuries setting them back as much as a year or more. Legend Frank Frazetta had a stroke and had to learn to paint with his left hand in order to get back to creating because art was such an important part of his full life. One of my artist and yoga friends also had a stroke and she’s only in her 30’s. She used yoga to help recover faster, but she also had to make extreme changes to her life: taking on less jobs, living with less money, moving to a quieter place, escaping toxic relationships. You do what you have to do.

Sadly, in the US it’s more acceptable to see a crowdsource campaign for health bills or to help someone while they are unable to work than it is to do something like ask for funding to have a traveling yoga studio and go to conventions to help people.

My goals for Geek Yoga at the GSCF:

Perhaps my initial proposed goals for classes at a convention were too lofty. I had some ambition juice flowing through my veins when I wrote the pitch.

  • By introducing geek themed yoga and meditation to fans, they can see creativity in action with a plus-sized yoga instructor.
  • It’s an opportunity to introduce yoga with meditation that is accessible to people standing or seated.
  • It shows that the convention cares about wellness outreach in their fandom communities.
  • The geek community is riddled with internal strife. If there’s any hope in working through this as a group, each individual should take time to self-reflect and set their own goals for improving it.

The tl;dr version is that I wanted to offer yoga for every body type and ability at a place where self care and reflection is so often neglected.

Results:

I think the class was great, personally. I had worked out a plan of action that fit into the allotted time and offered a variety of yoga work.

  • Grounding and centering
  • Seated warm ups and asanas
  • Standing options for half sun salutations
  • Seated metta meditation (lovingkindness)

I think my goals met the requirements I set upon myself. I hope there’s opportunity for more of this in the future.

If you missed this particular chance for yoga, please inquire with your favorite convention scheduling organizer to reach out to me through gmail: amberlovescomics. If you need some online tutorials, subscribe to my new Yoga channel at YouTube.

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