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A sense of “ah” permeated the ballroom at the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, California, September 6-9, as the intention for the second annual Inner IDEA Conference was set. Marcia Hayes, director of programming, 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 150 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 2 ½ days of community, connection and integration and maintained a beginner’s mind throughout.

The Power of a Positive Preconference
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.

Keynote Connection
A keynote address typically sets the tone for a 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 one month to carve out a new neuropathway. This is exciting news for agents of change like each and every one of you.”

Body, Mind and Spirit as One
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, and they included eclectic aspects only available 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 instruction in each 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 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, incorporating stones and other “helpers,” and sessions that explored labyrinth meditation, Reiki, stress management and coaching principles.

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. It is from this internal harmonic state that change blossoms and reaches 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. If not now, when?”

If you’d like to learn more about the firsthand, day-to-day Inner IDEA conference experience, or want to remember highlights, visit Joy Keller’s Inner IDEA blog.

Is there a session you missed or would like to experience again? Visit the Inner IDEA store to purchase one (or more) of the 24 session DVDs from the conference.