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Inner IDEA®: Where Joy and Learning Unite

Whether they were there to focus keenly on a discipline like Pilates or to enjoy a potpourri of classes ranging from mindful eating to yoga nidra, attendees at the 4th annual Inner IDEA Conference enjoyed many opportunities to celebrate the event’s theme, “The Power of Wellness.” Held last month at the beautiful desert oasis of La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, California, the conference brought together 375 fitness and wellness professionals dedicated to growing and learning in mindful and healing ways.

“Here, the sense of community and warmth is so evident in each unique experience,” said Kay Tucker, who had traveled from Tucker, Georgia. “Words aren’t adequate. [I am learning about] letting go and clearing space for compassion and love, which will be shared with my students.” Returning attendee Jahn Ann Pepple of Palm Desert, California, shared Kay’s sentiments: “Inner IDEA revives my body and my soul. I feel renewed, ready to take on a new season, a new year.”

The conference began on Thursday, September 10, with a keynote address by Steve D’Annunzio, life success coach and director of the Soul Purpose Institute. He urged attendees to be true to their calling, to live intentionally and to serve others. Genuine prosperity lies in that direction, he advised. “The one thing we can control is where we give—where we spend our precious life force. Do we feed our negativity, or do we feed our soul purpose?”

Over the next 3 days, participants engaged in a wealth of educational and experiential sessions that helped feed their aspiration and extend their professional repertoires. Topflight Pilates presenters—including PJ C’Clair, John Garey and Kathy Corey—covered reformer teaching skills, jumpboard interval training, scoliosis and chair work, plus much more. Eric Franklin, dancer, educator and founder of The Franklin Method, stirred lots of excitement and interest with his playful approach to functional movement. Meditation sessions—moving and still, inside and out, in daylight and at dusk—helped participants slow down and discover the joy of being quiet.

Yoga sessions were many and varied, ranging from Stacy McCarthy’s early-morning sun salutations on the grass (with the stunning Santa Rosa Mountains as a backdrop) to “Laughter Yoga: World Peace Through Intentional Hilarity” with Jeffrey Briar. Small yoga therapy balls were popular for working through muscle tension, while the new Flexcushion® turned up in yoga and Pilates sessions alike.

Nia®, Feldenkrais®, qigong, Gyrotonic® and fusion classes further enriched the programming mix, as did coaching, business and nutrition sessions with a mind-body slant.

Throughout the conference, attendees were encouraged to practice presence. At breakfast, served outdoors, they could chat with colleagues or enjoy a shared meal in silence. On Friday and Saturday, sit-down lunches included a guided meditation led by Marcia Hayes, programming director for Inner IDEA. And each session began with a short exercise in mindfulness designed to sharpen focus and raise awareness. Talking students through a chakra meditation, Pilates presenter Cathie Murakami suggested they reflect on their self-expression as they came to the throat center: “Is it true, kind and necessary?” she said. “If it is not true, or it is not kind, or it is not necessary, then there is no need to manifest it.”

The Friday lunchtime speaker, Dr. Pamela Peeke, was surprised to learn that she was also the recipient of the 2009 Inner IDEA Inspiration Award. Dr. Peeke is chief medical correspondent for the Discovery Channel and author of Body for Life for Women (a New York Times bestseller) and Fit to Live. In her address, she spoke earnestly of the work to be done in the wellness field, rallying those present to move out beyond their comfort zone to meet the challenge. “Adapt and adjust!” she exhorted. This same call came through loud and clear a day later, when Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door spas, warned of the “avalanche of change” about to happen. A huge demographic shift is coming, she said, and in 20 years 1 in 4 Americans will be over 65. More than ever, the world will need the power of wellness.

During the event, attendees had shopping opportunities at both the Inner IDEA Marketplace and the Visionary Sponsors Marketplace. This year’s sponsors were Balanced Body®, the C.H.E.K Institute, Flexcushion, Gaiam®, Gyrotonic®, MindBody, Nia, Peak Pilates®, Simplexity Health™ and STOTT PILATES®. The 2009 Inner IDEA scholarship recipients were Jordan Matlock, Stephanie Samuels, Isa Jones, Carla Thomas and Liliane Younes. Congratulations to them all for their good work in the wellness field.

Next year, the Inner IDEA Conference will return to La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, September 23-26. One attendee who is already planning to be there is yoga teacher Al Toth, who has become a regular at the event. Three years ago, at his first Inner IDEA Conference, Al attended a workshop by Lorna Francis. “It changed my life,” he says. “The lecture—called ‘Seeds of Dreams’—helped us identify our goals and draw up a plan or road map to accomplish them. Almost a year ago, following my dreams and my heart, I moved to Cusco, Peru, where I now teach yoga in English and Spanish.”

For more about the 2009 Inner IDEA Conference, please read Fit Tips editor Kate Watson’s event blog.


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