chat with a local :: Annika Iliadis of Love Yoga Fest

Annika Iliadis is a co-founder of Love Yoga Festival Cape Cod, a weekend of “yoga and wellness by the sea” that is taking place for the third year in a row on August 6 and 7 at Aselton Park in Hyannis. Yoga festivals have become a popular way for people to enjoy lots of different types of yoga in a community atmosphere; it’s a newer concept to the Cape but already a well-received one.  {Editors’ note: we are also co-founders of LYF so we think it is amazing – but so is Annika and we are thrilled to let you hear from this entrepreneur we admire!}

What’s your “Cape story” – are you a native?
I am from Norwood originally but I have been on the Cape for 13 years. I summered here as a child, and loved it so much. I feel pretty blessed that I now live minutes from the ocean.

How did you become interested in yoga, and making it into a career?
I was actually in the corporate world, in pharmaceutical sales. I had family acquaintances that developed rare cancers and it really made me sad and angry. I wanted to learn more about how people could prevent cancer. I developed an interest in natural health, and thought maybe learning about alternative health care and the holistic industry, I would feel more empowered about how to best prevent cancer. I then researched getting a Master’s degree in natural health and thought “maybe this will be my passion.”

While going through the online Master’s program, I had to read a book called “Stopping Cancer At The Source,” and there was a whole chapter on yoga. I went on to become a certified yoga teacher and while taking part in the training I developed a new outlook on life. I didn’t want to wear business suits anymore, I wanted to move forward with my new passion in natural health and yoga. I’d had trouble becoming pregnant with my now nine-year-old twins, and I truly believe that if I didn’t have natural health and yoga in my life I might not have them now.

How did you transition to your newfound career?
After completing the yoga teacher training, I started writing a business plan for a yoga center. I envisioned building and running a yoga center and in turn helping many people prevent cancer. I considered it a calling. Centerville Yoga & Wellness Center opened in May 2007 and I’m proud to say it was the first yoga center on Cape Cod!

A brick and mortar wasn’t enough for your dream! Tell us about Love Yoga Fest’s beginnings.
After selling Centerville Yoga to a wonderful new owner, Karen Black, I still wanted to stay in the yoga world but wasn’t sure exactly how to do that. At a LoveLocal Fest, I saw the awesome event that you three {Editors’ note: that’s us! Jen, Amanda and Kate!} put together and thought “I want to bring a yoga festival to Cape Cod and I want to do it with these 3 amazing women.”

So what is Love Yoga Fest?
Love Yoga Fest is one-stop-shopping for the mind, body and soul. It’s an opportunity to take a variety of classes all in one location over a course of two days. It not only offers yoga classes but much like Centerville Yoga, it offers an opportunity to receive education and offerings that assists you with uplifting your mind, body and spirit. We combine yoga with empowering music, meditation, and healing modalities that people might be learning about for the first time. It offers attendees the chance to take a break from their everyday lives and take time out for themselves. We want people to leave feeling recharged, empowered and relaxed.

LYF offers classes for all levels. All the classes cater to both the novice and the advanced student. We call people who attend yoga classes students because people who attend classes are constantly learning – and yoga is truly a practice, not something we are simply “good at” so we encourage people to come play, learn and have fun with us!

What are your Cape Cod happy places? 
I have so many happy places. If I had to name just a few, I would say, Hyannis Harbor (home to Aselton Park, where Love Yoga Fest takes place). I love to see all the boats coming and going. Also Sandy Neck Beach because I definitely did not grow up in a place where you could drive right on to the beach. Long Beach in Centerville because it was one of the first beaches I ever experienced on the Cape, as well as Scorton Creek, and Mayflower Beach.

Thanks for sharing your story, Annika! If you are interested in joining us at Love Yoga Fest, you can learn more at www.loveyogafest.com or check out our Facebookpage!

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