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Open Up Festival

We’re super excited about the upcoming Open Up festival, so much so that we had to share some details with you and came together for a chat!

The idea was inspired after travelling the world with the goal of ‘opening up’. Whether it was sitting around a fire, travelling on a bus through the mountains or out and about, the people we meet and stories we hear never fail to fascinate & inspire. Fast forward, and Open Up Healing was born, combining experience, a love of community, discussion, travel & connection.

With the second Open Up Festival on the way and an emotional year behind us, now is the perfect time for us to reconnect with one another. 

Open Up Festival

For those who are new to Open Up, tell us a bit about the brand...

Open Up is a new wellness platform celebrating human idiosyncrasy and connecting people with the resources they need to empower transformation from the inside out. 

We are advocated for mental & physical wellbeing and believe in equal opportunities, representation & diversity in all industries. We aim to create a space for people within our industry (wellness), where people from all backgrounds can find relatable teachers and speakers to identify with. Our goal is to bring together people in the community, both digitally and when the time is right physically, creating a safe space for practice, conversation and to Open Up. 

What was the initial drive for creating Open Up?

Well, there are two parts. Part one, to be honest, I was just a little bored of the wellness industry. I have studied in holistic modalities all over the world and lived in communities in Australia, Mexico and London, but representation always feels the same. I found it intimidating as a man to enter many spaces, with it either feeling very female-led or very heavy in ‘namaste vibes’ which I totally love & align with, but with the influx of people claiming to be shamans and gurus (I am looking at you Tulum), it felt false and pretentious. I love oils, cacao, sage as much as the next person, but sometimes I don’t want to be told that tea leaves can reveal my future. I wanted to create something a little more real, a little more honest. Aesthetically I want to draw on my love for film such as Wes Anderson and celebrate quirkiness and individuality. 

With this and the global pandemic, I felt the time was right to address my feelings towards the industry and how I could create something. Mental Health is also something very close to my heart and when I came up with the name Open Up the parallels seemed obvious. 

That’s where the second part of the drive came, we felt it was time to Open Up more on mental health. The drive & focus then also became about engaging people to talk more about mental health and help normalise the conversation. I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and didn’t really go to school for large periods of time, my parents were the only real support that I had. Parents though don’t always totally get it and it wasn’t until I went overseas at 18 and started ‘opening up’ to my peers that I discovered how normal the feelings I had felt were. I discovered the power of talking naturally about my vulnerabilities and emotions, it gave me strength. Flash forward 12 years, that concept is at the heart of who I am and what Open Up stands for.

A virtual festival you say! What can viewers expect?

A whirlwind of the unexpected with all the features of modern 20/21 online yoga classes hahaha. But in all seriousness, these festivals act as a wonderful virtual escape from the restrictions we have all faced. You can expect a group of incredible individuals, some of which I have worked with before, some of which I haven’t. It is a blend of people from all over the world, volunteering their time to create a 3 day festival of community and connection. It’s amazing to think one class will be in London, the next maybe the Bahamas and then another in LA, its a little getaway in itself. We had our first festival back in November and it was great, I travelled all over the world virtually in 3 days! It was the same concept of donation and connection and it was really wonderful to see and meet so many people. 

Where can you sign up to the virtual festival?

Head over to our website. It is www.openuphealing.com

Enter your details, donate if you can and we will send you an email as soon as we can with details. Open Up has a small team and we aren’t the most tech-savvy, so bear with us and we will have a confirmation email over to you within a few hours. 

If I can't attend or donate to the 3-day festival - where else can I show my support?

I’d say there are two parts again to this answer. Firstly, give us a follow on Instagram. This isn’t going to be the last festival and we have some amazing things coming up. We have teachers every week volunteering their time, show them love, join a class on a Sunday and Open Up with us. Also Yogi Bare & our associated charities follow them too.

The second part is to support your community, your friends, your family, yourself. Show up for each other. Check-in with people and yourself on the regular and show love. Be open to how people are feeling, even if you can’t understand it. Be non-judgemental of others situations or circumstances. Finally support teachers and practitioners from all backgrounds, work on how you can diversify your usual classes and represent people from all groups within your studios and brands. In the words of Mr Harry Styles, ‘treat people with kindness’.

What do you see as the next big step in the future for mental health support?

Crikey, the short answer…a lot. When this pandemic ends, it isn’t going to come with a ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ form of a magic wand. We are about to face a mental health epidemic for generations to come. For many, this last year will cause PTSD and long-suffering mental health-related problems for years to come. I think this has been so unseen and underestimated by governments worldwide. A post covid world is by no means sunshine and roses. I think the next big step is the support of charities and again normalising the conversation of it. We need to focus on the younger generation obviously, but also not forget the middle and older age groups who also suffer in their masses. If I were in government I’d start by looking at the message that I send to people, we need to do better on health and wellness across the spectrum, diet, exercise, supplements, everything. We also need to make it a part of the curriculum that schools teach meditation and other modalities of mindfulness. This should be seen in more community-run centres with a real push from media for people to make it a part of their daily life. Never in history have we been faced with as much stimulus as we are now. From social media to the climate, it’s overwhelming. We NEED to make sure people find 5-10 minutes a day to tune out, breathe and just be. We need people to OPEN UP x