Photo: Saranda Rexha

A weekend of wellness at Gjakova’s Spark Fest

From May 12-14, Gjakova will host Spark Fest, a weekend of classes, workshops, and lectures centered on holistic health.

Known primarily for its annual bridge diving contest, Kosovo’s western town Gjakova will host Spark Fest, a new wellness festival promoting self-healing and healthy living, on May 12-14.

Shkugza, a green space about a kilometer and a half from the city center, will be abuzz with the holistic health community. Practitioners from Kosovo and abroad will host classes, lectures, and demonstrations on yoga, pilates, reiki, meditation, strength training, running, and alternative therapies.

“The idea was that this festival starts a spark, which leads to renewal and rejuvenation,” entrepreneur Bronwyn Jones, one of the festival’s organizers, told Prishtina Insight.

Gjakova is a perfect fit for a wellness festival, explained the organizers, especially due to the city’s mayor, Mimoza Kusari-Lila.

“We met with [the mayor] and discussed our ideas, and within ten minutes, she was already turning to her assistant listing off things we would need, all the youth centers, hotels, the statistics. It was perfect for us,” said one of the festival’s organizers, psychologist and yoga instructor Brikene Bunjaku. “We felt so comfortable working with her.”

After an evening of yoga, meditation, and a concert by DJ Labi on Friday, Mayor Kusari-Lila will lead a Saturday morning run with the “555” running club.  

Activities will extend late into Saturday night and will continue all day Sunday. The schedule includes classes for children and adults across a range of topics, all centered on a holistic approach to wellness.

Some scheduled items include workshops on body image, Ayurvedic medicine, and stress relief with Sylvie Barthelemy, Quantum medicine with Zlatko Andonovski, and Craniosacral healing with Sahru Yuksel.

Organizer Saranda Rexha will host a “yoga for brain power” class for children and body/mind healing classes for adults. A body psychotherapist, she explained that in some circumstances, yoga and other forms of movement may cause trauma stored in the body to be triggered and lead people to withdrawal from such activities. This festival, she said, is an opportunity for people to work with experienced practitioners who apply various approaches to holistic healing.

“Having different approaches is a way to find healing…. We’re giving people the ability to choose what fits for them,” said Rexha, to which Bunjaku added, “we teach people how to listen to their own bodies.”

“We didn’t want to only expose people to yoga–there are many women who are also interested in strength training, for example. It’s all oriented towards self awareness and [personal] awakening,” Bunjaku said.

The festival will also bring together local NGOs and small-scale producers to sell food and other goods, such as Made with Love Gjakova, an initiative that works with women from Gjakova’s domestic violence safe house.

Around twenty teenage volunteers from local groups such as the Gjakova YMCA will help to organize participants and will participate in the workshops themselves. Having a festival organized for Gjakova by Gjakovars, the organizers emphasized, was crucial to their vision.

“The main reason behind this was because we wanted to start something that involved primarily the locals, especially youth and women. And the men, of course,” Bunjaku added with a laugh.

Activities will be held in Albanian and English, with the full schedule available online. The ten euro ticket price (free for children under 16) covers all scheduled activities from Friday-Sunday, and practitioners will offer additional personalized sessions at promotional prices. Information for booking tickets, accommodation, and travel can be found through the RAVE travel company or on the festival’s Facebook page.

09/05/2017 - 14:44

09 May 2017 - 14:44