This 3-day journey helped body-mind-spirit professionals succeed in the growing wellness industry.
A sense of “ah” permeated the ballroom at the La Quinta Resort & Club, near Palm Springs, California, on September 6–9, as the intention for the second annual Inner IDEA Conference was set. Marcia Hayes, programming director for Inner IDEA, led the audience in a guided meditation. “Let all your tension go and be here now,” she said. “Release the outer world and focus on the inner world. We invite you to be the person you came here to be.”
From the opening gong to the closing circle, Inner IDEA Conference 2007 created a sacred space for multilevel transformation. The program, which featured more than 130 sessions, offered the most up-to-date information and education to help body-mind-spirit professionals succeed in the rapidly expanding wellness industry. Attendees immersed themselves in 3 days of community, connection and integration and maintained a beginner’s mind throughout, which was one ideal that Inner IDEA co-founder Peter Davis called for in the opening ceremony. “Leave your judgments behind and allow yourself to be in the present moment,” he said.
Two powerful preconference sessions kicked off the weekend, in response to attendee requests for more intensive educational sessions: “Power of Yoga Intensive Training,” presented by Sherri Baptiste, founder of Baptiste Power of Yoga; and “Peak Performance and Well-Being—Positive Psychology Coaching in Action,” led by Margaret Moore, MBA, founder of Wellcoaches Corporation.
During the opening circle in Baptiste’s session, an attendee explained why she gravitates toward yoga: “I love that yoga is a practice, not a perfect.” On that inspired note, Baptiste taught attendees how to confidently lead a safe and challenging multilevel yoga class. The intensive reviewed the fundamentals and then flowed into a flawless sequence. Participants spent a good portion of the afternoon fine-tuning their concepts of pranayama practice. Baptiste offered invaluable insight throughout the day, and often reminded attendees that they were not “doing” yoga; they were “being” yoga.
The second preconference offered attendees an interactive opportunity to shift their perceptions about themselves and their life’s work. Participants completed a character strength test and then explored how to leverage these strengths to find a state of constant flow. Moore facilitated two coaching demonstrations during the day, and the group got a chance to see firsthand how the positive psychology techniques they were learning directly applied to a one-on-one experience.
A keynote address typically sets the tone for an event, and Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, set the bar high with her presentation “Minding the Molecules of Mental Motion: The New Science of Mind-Body-Spirit Healing.” Peeke, who artfully combined the latest research with wit and humor, talked about her vision of integrative fitness and how it affects the world. “Physical movement represents infinite opportunities for mental and spiritual motion,” she said. “The self is magnificent in its ability to heal and live well—and it all begins with the mind.”
Peeke announced that there is no mind-body connection; rather it is all the same, and always has been. She cautioned the audience against separating the two and called for a continued holistic approach to self-care. “The healing process is constant and dynamic,” she said. “The brain is plastic and can change. Humans have the power of neurogenesis. It takes 1 month to carve out a new neuropathway. This is exciting news for agents of change like each and every one of you.”
There were one-third more sessions than at last year’s event, making it the richest, most progressive and authentic exploration of body-mind-spirit wellness in the industry. Laura Sachs, Inner IDEA presenter and creator of the E-Motion® Mind/Body Fitness video, said she noticed a heightened vibe among attendees this year. “Attendees were very focused on receiving pertinent information and on experiencing ‘something more,’” she said. “Beyond picking up new techniques or another cool thing to add to their toolbox, I felt a genuine curiosity from the attendees. Even if they didn’t already practice an art, they wanted to know and experience it firsthand.”
Conscious movement was well-represented at the Inner IDEA conference. Many attendees deepened their understanding of physical presence with sessions that demonstrated the physical capabilities of intention. The options presented high value: Gyrotonic® exercises, Pilates, Nia, yoga, integrative movement and aquatic sessions all highlighted ways to support the human body.
There were more than 45 Pilates sessions at this event, involving eclectic aspects available only at the Inner IDEA conference. Sessions included fundamental forms, chakra realignment, ball Pilates and MVe™Chi Flow, just to name a few. It wasn’t uncommon to see the same person in a “classic” intermediate Pilates session take a newer offshoot. The level of instruceach of these sessions was top-notch, and attendees benefited from a favorable teacher-student ratio.
In her keynote, Peeke said that essential wellness begins with the mind. Attendees understood the full meaning of this statement after exploring issues related to the brain and mindfulness. Several sessions explored meditation and its effects and benefits. Larry Cammarata, PhD, and Linda Cammarata, RN, led a morning meditation and journaling experience for all levels. This session inspired attendees to reflect not only on the weekend, but on the direction their lives were moving. The full spectrum of mindful education included the science behind the practices themselves, as presented by Ralph La Forge, MSc, instones and other “helpers,” and sessions that explored labyrinth meditation, Reiki, stress management and coaching principles.
Jennifer Matthews, a personal fitness trainer, life coach and Reiki practitioner from Los Angeles, said she was profoundly motivated by her Inner IDEA experience.
“Inner IDEA [brought] me back to the person I want to be,” she said. “It motivated me to live toward my true potential, and in doing so I am able to honor the strengths and abilities of my clients more fully. I learned that there is never one path to health. An integrated approach allows us to build from each others’ strengths and customize our business practices. The experience is priceless, and I will always make it a financial priority to attend.”
“Just as the cover on the conference brochure [depicts], Inner IDEA was a moving experience for me,” said Dorri Li, co-founder of the Boston Kung Fu Tai Chi Institute. “Simply put, I was moved. In every moment I could feel the good intentions, the care and the thoughtfulness that went into the planning of this event. I also felt humbled and inspired by the presence of those magnificent brown mountains posed against an amazingly crystal blue sky. To me, they mirrored the combined collective wisdom of our group—presenters and participants alike. I left the conference with renewed trust that each one of us can and will make a much needed difference in our world. In fact, I think we already have!”
As Li alludes to, a higher level of consciousness sealed the edges as attendees were encouraged to find their own paths to wellness. “To be a yogi is to be on a path,” said Baptiste during her preconference session. “To be on a path is to find a practice.” The Inner IDEA conference created a community that encouraged attendees to find their own balance; and from that balance, change blossoms—eventually reaching the outside world. Being an agent of change and fostering a sense of “withinity” is the call to action Peeke laid out during her keynote address. “Here is your mantra,” she said. “Take it, absorb it and share it with the people you work with: Adapt. Adjust
Joy Keller is a senior editor for IDEA Fitness Journal.