Imagine a Saturday that's relaxing yet challenging, a day filled with live music, sustainable food and unlimited yoga and meditation classes.

A day like this at most yoga retreats may cost at least a few hundred dollars, but the Yoga Expo will change that when it makes its Fort Lauderdale debut on Saturday, April 16, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Tickets cost just $25. The Yoga Expo is in its first year, and will hit eight cities, including Portland, Denver and Houston.

"I had this idea to showcase South Florida yoga teachers and studios to people who either love yoga and are interested in trying new styles, or people that maybe their doctor suggested they try yoga or meditation," festival founder Kyle Michaud says. "There are other yoga events, but they cost like $400 a weekend and $40 or $50 additional per class. So what I wanted to do was use sponsors to subsidize the event."

Michaud, of Boca Raton, is the president and founder of Experience Expositions, which puts on the Yoga Expo and other events in South Florida, including Green Planet Festival, Women Empower Expo, and Vegfest, all in Fort Lauderdale. As a promoter of sustainable and healthy living, Michaud, 25, founded the Yoga Expo to provide the local community with a day filled with yoga at an affordable price.

More than 100 vendors will appear at the Yoga Expo, showcasing and selling the latest yoga gear, such as clothing and mats, many at discounted prices, as well as healthy foods and beverages.t

Fort Lauderdale originally was the first stop of the Expo's tour, but there was an overwhelmingly positive response after the event's announcement in September. All the booths for exhibitors and vendors sold out, and the demand for more was high, so Michaud decided to add an expo in Los Angeles. That event drew 11,000 participants in January.

"Right now, we have just over 9,000 tickets sold [in Fort Lauderdale]," Michaud says, "usually in the last three weeks, 70 percent of tickets are sold, so we're doing really, really well to beat 12,000 in Fort Lauderdale."

The Yoga Expo is an all-ages event for all levels. There will be 14 rooms with classes offering 15 different styles of yoga, such as partner, chakra flow and yoga for athletes. More than 100 teachers from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties will represent their studios and share their practices.

Green Monkey in Fort Lauderdale will have a booth at the expo.

"Any event that brings awareness of yoga to the community and brings the community together is successful and a step in the right direction," says Laurie Koris, Green Monkey’s studio manager. "It's nice to get out and meet like-minded people."

Discussions such as "eating for energy" and guided meditations such as "how to stop negativity and stress from affecting you" will be offered throughout the day. A live-music stage will play healing sounds all day.

"It's really just an awesome opportunity to see what yoga is available in your community in a nonjudgmental zone," Michaud says. "At any given moment from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there's always going to be 13 classes going on, and these rooms can accommodate up to 400 people. … I feel really satisfied and fulfilled that participants are walking away with potential improvements in their daily routine just by doing yoga or [by] finding meditation improves their mental awareness."

The Yoga Expo will start 10 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25, and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/1RCGdm2.
Children 12 and under are free. Go to TheYogaExpo.org.

Talia J. Medina, Staff writer
SouthFlorida.com
Photo: Courtesy of The Yoga Expo