6 Local Organizations to Consider During the Holiday Season

6 Local Organizations to Consider During the Holiday Season

6 Local Organizations to Consider this Holiday Season

Yoga asks us not only to grow and evolve toward our best selves, but also how we may be of service to others. As we move into the holiday season, the sacred practice of seva (selfless service) may look not only like time spent, but donations made. We believe in giving back to the local landscape where we are lucky enough to host our event. Here’s our roundup of spots to consider as you spread the love this giving season.

Verde Valley Sanctuary

The Sanctuary offers a safe haven for victims of family violence and sexual assault, providing shelter, community outreach, legal advocacy and education and prevention. Their Confidential Outreach Center provides confidential assistance to victims of crime who may not need emergency shelter, offering personalized case management, counseling, safety planning, and day and evening support groups. This season, the Verde Valley Sanctuary Board of Directors presents a $50,000 holiday gift match opportunity. For every dollar you give, the Board doubles your impact. Learn more and make a donation here.

Sedona Arts Center

Longtime participants will know that SYF showcases more than the practic and power of yoga. Art, and the eternal apperciation of beauty is an integral part of our mission and goal. Our 2022 festival theme, Give It Up For Grace, encourages us to seek and support the creation of art and beatuy. Sedona Arts Center is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to nurturing creative discovery, learning and sharing through arts education and artistic development. They offer free and low-cost events, classes, workshops, and exhibitions, showcasing local talent. They also offer virtual classes and workshops, as well as an online gallery. Learn more and donate here.


Apache-Stronghold is a nonprofit community organization dedicated to battling ongoing and continued colonization, the defense of holy sites and freedom of religion, and the building of stronger community through neighborhood programs and civic engagement. Their work is a spiritual journey of healing to confront the deception of the birth of America. Working from San Carlos, Arizona, Apache-Stronghold connects Apaches and other Native and non-Native allies from all over the world. Their work has been particularly poignant at Chi’chil Bi?dagoteel (also known as Oak Flat), a sacred site for our Apache people and many other Native Americans; the most recent hearing on the future of this sacred site was in October, 2021. Watch a film about their work, and then make a donation here.

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park is an outdoor venue for prayer, meditation, and the experience of peace, and has hosted some of SYF’s most memorable experiences. Welcome and open to people of all faiths, in addition to the Amitabha Stupa, you’ll also find another Buddhist stupa, a Native American medicine wheel, and a beautiful mahogany statue of Shakyamuni Buddha along with walking trails and numerous quiet spots for meditation and quiet contemplation. The Park is supported by visitor donations — learn more about this sacred place and make a donation here

Free Soul

Long a friend of SYF, Free Soul is an educational nonprofit that shares skills and educational materials that help people be their own best spiritual teachers. With special programs for veterans and survivors of PTSD, Free Soul helps seekers connect with their inner wisdom with programs, tours, and vision quests in the Sedona area. Founder Pete A. Sanders, Jr. offers virtual retreats and programming to fit many budgets, and has been a proven starting point for many to being deep personal healing. Donate directly through their website here.

Sedona Recycles

Since 1989, Sedona Recycles has been providing a place for community members to drop off hard-to-recycle items like Styrofoam, batteries, packing materials, printer ink cartridges, and egg cartons. They also offer custom tours, lesson plans, classes, and presentations for schools and other educational facilities, by sending a Sedona Recycles rep straight from the source. This helps to ensure that the work they do is not only affecting the immediate present, but creating an impact for years to come. Their A-Z Reuse & Disposal Guide provides useful information for all, even outside of the Sedona area. Help keep Sedona green by making a year-end donation here.

* Please note: This is not a sponsored piece, and SYF does not, as of publication, have formal relationships with any of the listed organizations. We just truly believe in supporting local nonprofits and sharing the SYF love!

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Give It Up for Grace

Give It Up for Grace

Give It Up For Grace!

Sedona Yoga Festival is back. We couldn’t be more excited to gather with you, and to welcome our community back to Sedona for our 2022 event. While our themes typically revolve around personal transformation and spiritual evolution, this year we’re encouraging the contemplation of outward motion. We’re Giving It Up for Grace for the 2022 festival — throwing our hands up exploring what it means to return to joy, to celebrate safe and intentional community, and to cultivate grace and gratitude.

We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to throw our hands up and dance. We’re ready to lift our voices, both individually and collectively, and tune into the small beauties and bounties of the world that make life inspirational and magical. This may feel like the synchronicities of bodies moving together in asana flow — in the fresh air of the great outdoors — or the resonance of a whole-hearted Om. It may feel like the transcendence of breath filling our bodies with power, or the softness of sinking into an expressive kirtan. It may be the enthusiasm we feel after a particularly inspirational talk, or the motivation of education after a particularly resonant course. 

Because yoga, at its core, is truly about seeking, encouraging, and creating light in the darkness. It’s about prioritizing the bliss that is one’s birthright — both for yourself, and all living beings. 

Having said that, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that the past couple of years have been tough. In her seminal book, “When Things Fall Apart,” American Tibetan Buddhist scholar Pema Chödrön writes: 

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

It’s apt advice to keep in mind as we return from the past two years: years of great upheaval, transition, and healing. Some would say that 2020 and 2021 have prepared us for an awakening, that the disruptions we’ve experienced — as a global, national, and yoga community — have primed us for a greater understanding of our humanity, and have paved the way for a healing that will transcend even the parameters of that upheaval. In these cataclysms we’ve experienced loss, but we’ve simultaneously created room, as Chödrön would say, for that joy that we’re seeking as we come together in celebration of community and practice.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali instructs surrender in the fifth of the niyamas, Isvarapranidhana. The idea is to give it up to the divine, to release the need to hold on and control, even in the midst of what seems impossible to let go. As we prepare to intentinoally and safely gather, we’re leaning into not just the “practice” of yoga, but what it means to live in our yoga: to softly lay down the burdens in favor of wonder and delight. We’re leaning into what it means to be in grace, and to live grace with those around us — even those with whom we may disagree. 

Whatever it is that helps you Give It Up for Grace, we want to find it with you this May.

Learn more by signing up for our newsletter at the end of this page!

Brain & Soul Science for NEXT Level Yoga by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

Brain & Soul Science for NEXT Level Yoga by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

Brain & Soul Science for NEXT Level Yoga

by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

Don’t settle for only experiencing a fraction of the yoga benefits that ARE possible for you. Learn “Yoga of the Soul” (Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in Classroom 4). As an M.I.T. Honors Graduate in BioMedical Chemistry and Brain Science and a Mind/Body/Spirit Teacher for close to 50 years, I look forward to sharing with Sedona Yoga Festival participants, “Secrets from Science” for going BEYOND their current level of yoga.

Superstrings Physics states that you exist in a minimum of 10+ dimensions. Just as only a fraction of an iceberg is above the water, so too, you are much more than your physical body. What keeps most people from tapping that beyond are the anchoring effects of the Limbic System of the Brain. That Limbic Brain, not only keeps even spiritually minded people from fully Soul Soaring, it automatically creates life crushing dis-stress.

A major benefit of yoga, is that it partially soothes those negative limbic effects, but often only temporarily. When you know the Stress Reduction and Soul Tapping techniques I will be teaching in the Yoga of the Soul Workshop you can: 1. deeper your experience as you do yoga, 2. have a methods for getting yoga’s benefits even when you can’t be doing yoga (at work, driving, in tense family situations, etc.) and 3. more fully connect with ALL of you dimensions beyond and life purposes.
Sedona’s Vortexes are amplifiers that (when you know how to tap them and which ones are best for what needs) can further cleanse Limbic Distress from your aura and body. The Vortexes can also help you get new insights for how to develop “Your Own” best yoga practices and send reminder energies home. As part of my “Scientific Vortex Information and Yoga of the Soul” Workshop I will be sharing: 1. the science that explains the Vortexes (and why they are NOT electric or magnetic) 2. which Sedona sites are best for what, 3. how to find Vortexes in your home area, and 4. how to create you own Yoga Vortex wherever you are.

If you can’t be at the Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Workshop in Classroom 4, my books “Access Your Brain’s Joy Center” and “Scientific Vortex Information” are available thru www.freesoul.net or as E-books. Both books will also be available at the Festival Bookstore.

Pete A. Sanders Jr.

Pete A. Sanders Jr. is an Honors Graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with principal studies in Bio-Medical Chemistry and Brain Science. Accepted to attend Harvard Medical School, he chose instead to pursue independent exploration of Mind/Body/Spirit potentials for developing THE FREE SOUL METHOD, “Inner Technology” Techniques and “Secrets from Science” for Creating YOUR OWN Enlightenment.   www.freesoul.net

Brain & Soul Science for NEXT Level Yoga by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

Vedic Astrology for The Weekend of SYF2019

Vedic Astrology for The Weekend of SYF2019

by Sam Geppi

On the weekend of March 14 Mercury and the sun will cross at the junction point between Aquarius and Pisces. This is where we see our social self releasing into our cosmic self. For many of us that means our sense of wanting to make the world a better place and “be the change” we want to see in the world – elevating to an even higher vibration, that divine being that is not even of this world at all.

To be honest, most of us do not really conceive of our metaphysical being at all. The culmination of our life usually revolves around some utopian vision of the world that we have helped to create that makes us feel good and that aligns us with others and everything externally in some way. But that is not the metaphysical self of Pisces. That being is a transcendent, universal entity, a being of energy and light without form. It is our soul nature.

According to Vedic/Indian philosophy, that energetic, non-localized being, incarnates in order to experience the things need for greater self-awareness and the greater clarity of that souls energy and its facticity. Stated more simply, we have incarnated because we do not embody our divine nature yet. Life on earth and our descent into form is so we can encounter those limitations and evolves them toward that higher, metaphysical self.

We can see this evolution of that higher, worldly self into that cosmic metaphysical self in this transition between Aquarius and Pisces.

Also, we will see the moon moving from Gemini into cancer over the weekend of March 14. Gemini is where we gather more information, become playful and curious, like a child exploring its environment. But eventually all of that exploration and curiosity must be anchored in the heart, and integrated into our soul matrix (cancer), otherwise it is just data, disconnected from the heart.

This is the other big transition of the weekend of March 14.

Those who attend the Sedona yoga Festival will surely be under the influence of such celestial vibrations.

I’m thrilled and happy to be presenting a workshop on “yoga and Vedic astrology and 2019 predictions” at the festival.


Originally Appeared On: https://vedicastrologycenter.net/sedona-yoga-festival-3/

Sam Geppi

Sam Geppi

Sam Geppi (Sadasiva) is the author of “Yoga and Vedic Astrology” and “The Ascendant-108 Planets of Vedic Astrology”. He is the founder of the American Academy of Vedic Art and Science – which offers level 1-3 Certification programs in Vedic Astrology. Currently the Academy has more than 120 students enrolled. Sam is certified level 1 and 2 through ACVA and CVA and was hired by Dattatreya Shiva Baba to teach the first Astroved Vedic Astrology Certification Program in 2010.

3 Tools for Easing Life with Trauma – Today

3 Tools for Easing Life with Trauma – Today

Photo by Miguel Guzman at the 2018 Sedona Yoga Festival’s “Yoga for PTSD Training”

By Erin Byron

To large or small degrees, each of us lives with some form of trauma. In the past week, I’ve heard people identify trauma from common (though painful) life events such as parenting sleepless children, euthanizing a pet, or the illness of a loved one. 

It is traumatic to go through a shock or profound loss in life. Are there ways to lessen the impacts or prepare ourselves? Research on PTSD and trauma say YES! 

It is noteworthy that, while there may be a clinical difference between PTSD and trauma, the ways to ease their impact are the same. At the SYF Yoga for PTSD Training, numerous voices offer countless strategies, and the science behind them, to support you and your loved ones in healing trauma.

While we wait for March 14-17 to arrive, pick one of the following 3 ideas and start doing it today and let us know what happens when we see you at SYF2019. Betcha there’s a difference!

Do this first one anytime, anywhere to prevent or shift this…

1. Adapt your breath. 

Notice I did not say, “Take a deep breath.” While a 5-count-in, 5-count-out is an adaptation away from shallow breathing, it is not the only option. 

Instead, you can see what happens if you move only the abdomen instead of only the chest. Maybe you could sound the exhale or inhale with an ujjayi breath. I sometimes breathe out a merry “Ahhhhhh”, beginning on a high note and ending low. 

There are infinite combinations of breathwork. Throughout the day, simply change how you are breathing and notice what happens.

The next idea arises from a yoga for PTSD study. Yoga is continually proven to help reduce traumatic symptoms. What I love about this study is the awareness and self-reliance.

2. Listen to your body and make your own choices in yoga class. 

A study by Bessel van der Kolk, Laura Stone, and other researchers (2014) showed that when yoga students were invited to have curiosity about their bodily sensations and make their own choices about how long to stay in a pose, their PTSD improved. 

In fact, by the end of the study, 52% of the yoga participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD! The yoga and their self-reliant practice had a dramatic improvement on their quality of life.

The final tool is simple. It is gentle, takes very little time, and can bring huge benefits to the mind, nervous system, and body.

“That’s me, at the Yoga for PTSD Training at the 2018 Sedona Yoga Festival.” Photo by Miguel Guzman

3.  Use firm pressure to rub in foot lotion before bed. 

That’s it?! Yes, it could change your life. Do this for 5 days and wait for revelations. (Bonus points for using sesame or coconut oil with a few drops of an appealing essential oil. I like orange and rosemary oils with a soupcon of ginger.)

Whichever of these 3 options you choose, I hope you have fun applying the new tool. Once it feels secure or habitual, begin to apply the next tool. You can return to this list or inspire yourself with other ideas.

For a wealth of ideas, research, and direct experience with effective practice, please join me and my friends and colleagues March 14 – 17 at the Sedona Yoga Festival, Yoga for PTSD Training. I can’t wait to learn, teach, and commune with you!


  • Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD; Laura Stone, MA; Jennifer West, PhD; Alison Rhodes, MWS Med; David Emerson, MA; Michale Suvak, PhD; and Joseph Spinazzola, PhD. Yoga as an Adjunctive Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2014; 75(6): e559-65.

About the Author: Erin Byron



Erin’s Master of Arts research studied the benefits of Yoga practices in coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and the literary review of the study equipped her for helping people with a range of physical and mental health concerns.

Erin is grateful for the opportunity to support others on their personal growth paths.

Sedona Yoga Festival & Zero Waste

Sedona Yoga Festival & Zero Waste


We are beyond excited to have you join us for the 7th year of the Sedona Yoga Festival amidst the majestic lands of Sedona, Arizona!

World-class presenters, workshops and artists are key elements in making this an unforgettable, life-changing experience. To keep the magic alive and deepen the positive impact on our community and our world, our commitment to ecological sustainability is at the core of the choices we make as festival organizers.

As attendees, we know you come here to be part of something amazing; with your help, we will continue creating a leading industry yoga conference that will change the way we celebrate life at the deepest level.

Why Zero Waste?

Our last post talked about the importance behind the Zero Waste movement. For us at SYF, we realize that our health is intrinsically linked to the health of the planet and all beings. We are blessed to join together for a weekend deepening our practices of wellness and mindfulness, and we believe that environmental stewardship is an essential way to give back to this place, this community and this precious life that gives us so much.

How is SYF going Zero Waste?

We’re honored and excited to be taking a lot of steps toward environmental stewardship this year. Here are a few of our major initiatives, including our fabulous partners and sponsors whose support and collaboration are instrumental in our success:
An essential part of Zero Waste is taking responsibility for the inevitable “waste” we produce. This year, we’ll be setting up Resource Recovery Stations where we’ll feature Compost, Recycling and Waste bins — the goal is to Recover as much material as possible, composting and recycling first, and sending as little as possible to the landfill.

Thank you to our Sponsor, Interdependence Foods, for sponsoring the 2019 zero waste stations!

Many thanks to Sedona Compost & Sedona Recycles for sharing resources, supplies and time with us toward these efforts.

Water is, of course, is an essential element of any event, especially one with so much emphasis on movement, sweat, replenishment and nourishment.  Providing our attendees with safe, healthful drinking water is high on our priority list, as is making sure that water comes without negative ecological impact.  We aim to keep SYF free of all plastic bottles, and encourage everyone to bring a vessel to refill at our hydration stations. We are proud to have beautiful, clean glass bottles from Sedona Bottling Company for filling and drinking on the festival grounds; for our On The Land excursions, we are grateful to be working with Proud Source Water to provide the highest quality water in recyclable aluminum bottles.

This year, with the help of Climate Yogi, we are providing guests the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets for their travels.  Learn more here.

We are blessed with a wonderful lineup of Conscious Vendors providing thoughtfully, ethically and regionally (wherever possible) sourced food, wares and gifts for guests.  We are working with them to eliminate waste and non-recyclable/compostable materials from the festival grounds. As you explore their offerings, we encourage you to be compassionately curious and learn the stories behind what you purchase.

Perhaps the most crucial element of all in successfully going Zero Waste are the People — You, our beloved Attendee, with your care and attention, make this all possible.

Whether you’re a seasoned attendee of yoga festivals, or if this is your inaugural year, deciding what to (and what not to) bring to a festival is rarely an easy task.


We’ve put together a Zero-Waste guide to help you pack your bag and prepare for your amazing journey;

Reusable Water Bottle

Hydration is a no-brainer at a Yoga festival in the desert!  Staying hydrated can be an act of love for ourselves and our earth when we choose to refill bottles made from non-toxic, up-cycled material.

Food Essentials

SYF boasts incredible festival cuisine, and we are proud to have vendors who are as excited as we are to create dining experiences that are not only delicious, but healthy for people and planet alike.  Though we request that all our vendors adhere to strict guidelines and use compostable and recyclable materials, imagine how clean our festival will be if each attendee brought the following items — talk about Zero Waste!

• Wide-Mouth Mason Jar

• Insulated Thermos for hot liquids

• Reusable Utensils

• Cloth Napkin // Bandana

•  Bamboo//Metal Straw

Personal Hygiene

The ritual of cleansing is a central aspect of our Yoga practice, and we certainly want to stay clean and healthy as we share time and space together.  We are thankful to have the support of Sedona Compost to provide an ecological solution for used paper towels, but again, we’ll practice R#2 — Reduce first, wherever possible.

• Washcloth

• Biodegradable Soap

• Recycled//Organic Toothbrush

• Ecologically sound Toothpaste

Tote Bag/Basket

For carrying your Zero Waste kit to and fro 🙂 

If you have any questions, ideas or tips, please reach out to our Zero Waste Coordinator, Jo.

With every choice we make, we are given the opportunity to make the world a better.  Thank you for joining us on the journey toward Zero Waste.

With gratitude,

Jo and the SYF Zero Waste Team

 Molly Jo

Molly Jo

SYF Zero Waste Coordinator

For over a decade, Molly Jo (Jo) has been committed personally, professionally and academically to cultivating a vibrant, sustainable existence for herself, her community, and the greater ecology to which we are all inextricably bound. She has been blessed to study, teach and grow alongside phenomenal teachers, healers and seekers among extraordinary landscapes and beings.

She began her journey as an Environmental Educator, connecting students of all ages to the wonders of our Earth through classroom and field instruction. She first learned the Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics as a Wilderness Trip Leader in the boreal forests near Lake Superior, and the principles have since guided her choices and actions as a citizen of the world, an educator, and an organizer. Over time, her relationship to the land grew, and she deepened her skills as a practitioner of Herbal Medicine, through which she became keenly aware of the universal application of LNT — The Honorable Harvest — in which, as humans and stewards of the planet, we not only are responsible for leaving the places we visit and inhabit better than we found them, we are also indebted to use our gifts and our gratitude to enrich all those whose lives we impact.

An avid individual practitioner of Zero Waste (ZW), Jo has actively promoted the growth of the ZW movement through event coordinating, volunteering and education since 2010. Currently engaged in Masters studies in Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability, Jo is passionate about the intersection between Yoga and Ecological Stewardship. She is deeply excited and honored to bring her love and energy to Sedona Yoga Festival. She hopes to demystify Zero Waste, and bring a little more joy and ease to the practices of Ecological Stewardship and Sustainability with the help of a community on the path of mindfulness, gratitude and love.

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