Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview – Caribbean Yoga Conference

This week we went behind the scenes with Kimberly Moon of Bella Luna Yoga to chat about her newest undertaking: creating the Caribbean Yoga Conference. What prompted you to start the Caribbean Yoga Conference? 

Kimberly Moon: I was visiting Jamaica for Bella Luna Yoga and got to know the yoga community there. There are some amazing teachers and students, but the industry is in such infancy right now I wanted to do something to help it grow. I am hoping this conference will help spread the word about yoga further into the community.

TO: How did you go about deciding on the faculty and presenters?

KM: We began planning about 18 months ago. With this being a new conference, I really wanted to start off strong. I sat down with the CYC Director of Programming, who formerly worked in Kripalu’s programming department, and we put together a “Dream Team.” We wanted to bring in some presenters that already had a proven following to ensure people would make the trip to see them.

TO: So a big part of your decision to bring someone on is his or her established following?

KM: Yes. For a large conference such as this, we need to know ahead of time that the cost of bringing someone down here will be offset by the audience they will draw in.

TO: What do you look at to establish if someone has enough of a following?

KM: One great indicator is their social media reach – number of facebook friends and/or Twitter followers. Another would be the size of their marketing database. Someone who has hundreds of people they connect with consistently (for example, with a monthly newsletter) will be able to help us promote the conference to their fans. Also, we look at previous events they have been at or workshops they have taught to gauge public interest.

TO: Is there anything else you look for, besides following?

KN: The established following is for our heavy hitters. But we don’t want to go into an emerging market such as Jamaica and fly in the entire conference faculty. We want to choose some presenters locally as well since they will be the ones staying behind to cultivate the yoga community after the conference is over. We want to establish relationships between local teachers and local students. So location can be one criterion in our decisions.

In addition to location, we want to have presenters that fit with our theme. This year our theme is Seva (community service). Therefore, the amount of community service our presenters do factored into our decision – many of them have started non-profits or contribute to charities regularly.

TO: Are you are open to presenters reaching out to you, even though when you start planning for next year you may already have an idea of whom you want?

KM: Absolutely! We have a Presenter Proposal link on our website that stays up year round. Each and every Presenter Proposal we receive through the website we read through and consider.

TO: What is your best advice to presenters looking to break into the larger conferences?

KM: Most importantly, grow your following. Use social media to connect with people who may have never experienced you in person. Begin a marketing database of relationships, so if asked, you know exactly what you can bring to the table. Start looking for smaller local events to establish yourself as a presenter. Usually smaller events don’t have the budget to bring in people from out of town, so being local is a huge benefit. Go to the bigger conferences and network, network, network. Get your name out there. Come on down to Jamaica and say hi to us in person, so we know who you are when your Presenter Proposal comes across our desk.

TO: Great advice! Thank you Kim!


The 1st Annual Caribbean Yoga Conference | February 2nd – 5th - Montego Bay, Jamaica 
For it's inaugural event, the Caribbean Yoga Conference is landing in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica for 4 days of sun, sand, seva and sangha. The conference lineup includes workshops for all abilities with world-renowned instructors including Seane Corn, Simon Park, Paige Elenson, Sadie Nardini, Kathryn Budig, Jenny Sauer-Klein, Jason Nemer and Toni Bergins. The conference will also offer a rockin’ beach concert with MC Yogi and opportunities for morning meditation and noon yoga on the beach. There will also be plenty of time to just sit back, relax and connect with community. A unique element of this conference is its scholarship and sustainability program, which is geared towards Jamaica’s youth workers. The aim with this program is to spread the reach of yoga related tools to the marginalized children of Jamaica. See you in Jamaica!

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