Whether new to yoga or very proficient in the physical, mental and spiritual discipline, this weekend's North Dakota Yoga Conference in Bismarck has something to offer gurus and newbies alike.

"It'll be an entire weekend of being healthy, in a nice atmosphere, and doing something for yourself," said Brenda Stone, event co-chair and owner of Yoga for You. "We'll be showcasing different facets and styles of yoga and anyone who is interested or wants to learn more is welcome."

About 25 yoga instructors will be on hand to teach 28 varieties of yoga and meditation classes - from gentle chair yoga for seniors to vigorous yoga for athletes - in workshop style.

“Teachers will supply handouts at the start of each class, along with an explanation of what they’re going to teach,” said Stone.

Some of the instructors will explain what they're doing throughout the class, while others will only go into details at the beginning and very end of the class.

Most of the instructors are native to, or live in, North Dakota, but a handful are traveling from Texas, South Dakota and Canada.

The conference kicks off on Friday with one evening session, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a catered social and opening ceremony at 7 p.m.

"During that time, each of our instructors will give a 60-second preview of the class they will be teaching at the conference," Stone said.

Yoga instructor Jim Kambeitz, a Bismarck native who has studied yoga abroad, will give the keynote address, "To Yoga or Not to Yoga — That is the Question," at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

"Yoga, in many ways, is a question of life or death," Kambeitz said. "Are we merely surviving or are we living fully? This talk will explore true stories of how yoga practitioners transform once they start doing yoga."

Kambeitz studied in India at the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore. He co-owns Upward Spiral Films and produces movies about yoga, as well as health, environmental and social issues.

"For me, yoga has been an elixir. When I lost the ability to walk, it was either another knee surgery or do yoga," said Kambeitz. "Thankfully, I chose yoga.

"As my knee healed, to my surprise, so did my asthma, stomach pain and other problems," he said. "That's when I realized my teacher in India was correct in saying, 'Yoga can cure any problem — physical, mental or spiritual.'”

A public speaker, Kambeitz's TEDx Talk, "Pranayama: Extend Your Life by Extending Your Breath," has more than 102,000 online views.

“He’s quite well versed and has traveled to several countries," Stone said.

About 14 vendors will set up shop to sell yoga clothing, jewelry, essential oils and crystals.

Attendees should plan to eat lunch and dinner "on your own" Saturday.

Three sessions are scheduled for Sunday morning, followed by the 12:45 p.m. closing ceremony.

The first of its kind in North Dakota, the conference was developed following a conversation between Stone and yoga instructor Allison Rissel at a similar South Dakota conference last summer.

“Allison said to me, ‘Since South Dakota has a yoga conference, I think we should have one,’” Stone said. “I think the yoga people are very excited for something like this in our state. I think it’s come together quite nicely.”

Yogi Bonny Fetch also played an important role in organizing the conference, which will take place at the Ramada Bismarck Hotel, 1400 E. Interchange Ave.

"As the number of people doing yoga increases in North Dakota, the health and vitality of those people affects everyone around them, and our entire community improves," said Kambeitz.

"This conference is a critical step in connecting and strengthening our statewide network of people interested in healthy living," he said. "We learn from each other and we all get better."

Those wishing to attend may buy a three-day pass, two-day pass, Saturday-only pass or individual class passes.  

“Events like this bring the whole yoga community together and those who want to be a part of it,” Stone said. “It’s an opportunity to get together with like-minded people. It’s like going to a game and everyone’s cheering for the same team. It’s a great place to be.”

For more information, or to register, call 701-255-8499 or visit www.ndyogaconference.com.

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