Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interview - Northwest Yoga Conference

We sat down with Melissa Hagedorn to learn more about the 1st annual Northwest Yoga Conference. Why did you decide to start a yoga conference?

Melissa Hagedorn: I started it because it is what I wished I had been able to attend in previous years. Most yoga conferences and retreats are far away – you go to some white sandy beach to get away from the cold Washington winters. That sounds amazing, but most people I know can’t afford to do that. I wanted to create that immersive yoga retreat vibe locally.

TO: What were some of the hardest hurdles when starting a new conference?

MH: I would say the biggest challenge was that I am just a yoga student. I am not a teacher with tons of industry connections already in place.

TO: How did you overcome that?

MH: I reached out to my local teachers and they were all receptive to the idea. They emailed the information out to their connections and it grew from there. I had originally planned for a fairly small event but something in my head kept saying “go bigger” so I did!

TO: I’ll say – you have what, 36+ workshops? For not being connected, that’s a lot!

MH:  We advertised in the local yoga newsletter and searched the Internet for various teachers and workshops. We put up a link on our website to solicit presenter proposals. All together we ended up with about twice as many applicants as workshops.

TO: How did you decide which presenters to bring onboard?

MH: The hardest part was turning people down. But being a new conference, I wanted us to have some credibility. That meant bringing on people who knew what they were doing. So having some sort of past experience presenting at events played heavily in our decision.

Also, we wanted a balanced offering with sessions for complete beginners to introduce them to yoga, for yoga students like me to deepen our practice, and for advanced teachers to deepen their knowledge.

TO: Do you have any advice for teachers looking to present at events?

MH: We didn’t make a decision on the presenters until after the presenter proposal deadline, but I found I gravitated towards those that got their applications in early. I think I had more time to contemplate their workshop idea and it had time to grow on me.

Also, the more thorough and well thought-out the proposal the easier it made my job. I didn’t have to track people down for more information and could really get a sense for what they were going to teach immediately.

Lastly, we looked at how willing and able they were to help promote the conference. We needed to get the word out so people who came to us with stellar marketing ideas and who seemed really invested in making the conference a success, stuck out.

TO: Thank you, Melissa!

  •        Event Name: Northwest Yoga Conference
  •        Location: Lynnwood, WA (Lynnwood Convention Center)
  •          2012 Dates: February 18th and 19th
  •         Number of Years Event has Been Going On:  First year!
  •       Estimated Attendance: 300+
  •       Number of Presenters: 35-40
  •       Types of Presenters: Wide variety of yoga (kids yoga, kundalini, iyengar, chanting, meditation, yoga philosophy, workshops specific for yoga teachers, etc.)
  •       Website:
  •       How to Submit a Presenter Proposal: Applications are available in the spring for presenters to submit workshop ideas. 
More than 300 yoga students and instructors are expected to attend the first annual Northwest Yoga Conference–the only yoga conference in the Seattle area– which will take place on February 18 and 19 at the Lynnwood Convention Center in Lynnwood, Washington.

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