NHC interview with Liz Huntly of the Groove Yoga Festival
June 16-18th in Sydenham, Ontario
Groove Yoga Festival
1. Where and when did the first spark of the idea to create the Groove Yoga Festival happen… Was it in a moment of transcendence (the Atman state) or simply in the routine of the day?
Perhaps it was a moment of unrecognized transcendence. I was hanging out with a few friends around the campfire on our Ontario property where our Original Version festival came to be. We were reveling in the magic of the land and someone said, “Hey, this would be a great place for a yoga festival!” I thought at first that it was just one of those sparkly ideas that looks good in the flicker of the firelight, but then Roland got onto the idea and together we brought it to life.
2. Was there a desire to expand and share the idea after the first gathering, bringing you to other locations?
The Ontario festival turned out to be such an amazing experience that we decided to take the loose framework of The Groove back to Germany, where we were living at the time. We did our first Urban Edition in Berlin that same year  and from there we ran with it. Interesting locations presented themselves all over the world: Goa, Croatia, Nepal. In most cases we just do an event once in each place. But the Ontario festival continues to be kind of like the mother culture. We’re going into our fourth year this June, and we’ll definitely keep doing this one.
3. NHC studies and writes about community and co-existence in all its forms, and so we’re curious what compels you to spread the vibe and what the ideal result or purpose of Groove is?
The purpose of the Groove is to bring people together to explore community through movement and music. We keep our festivals small—generally 100-200 participants—so the experience is truly intimate. This gives people a chance to make meaningful connections with each other and the teachers over the course of the weekend. We’ve always been really amazed by the diversity of people coming to our festivals and are so inspired by seeing them come together over the course of each event!
4. For the planners, or for you as an individual, what people, ideas, and or philosophy most inspires your own existence?
As yogis, Roland and I are constantly asking ourselves how to live well—how to make our yoga practice the sum of our lives rather than just something that happens on the mat. Ultimately this has led us to give up our city life in Germany and move to rural Ontario so that we can become less dependent on the systems that are destroying our environment and propagating social inequality. We’re still teaching, travelling, and planning festivals, but we’re also devoted to producing our own food and becoming more involved in our local community here.
5. How will music or dance be integrated into the event, and what artist (musician) most defines the format?
Our aim is to mix really different styles of music into our events and we’re very excited about the diversity we’ve got lined up this June. The program includes DJ Drez and Marti Nikko doing their electro-soul thing; Keith Borden, who’s actually a classically trained opera singer, and leads a pretty epic kirtan; Darren Austin Hall and Megan Marie Gates on crystal bowls; and one of our favourite returning teachers, dallas delahunt, is bringing in live country music for her Hatha + Honky Tonk class. So we’ve got something for all tastes. And more importantly, opportunities for people to discover new forms of music and new ways of moving to music that they haven’t yet experienced.
visit the Groove Yoga Festival