Once a week former London lawyer Rach Cox visits the OX offices and leads us in a yoga session, however one afternoon last month the instructor allowed everyone the hour off and instead spoke to the editorial team about her route into yoga and the wellbeing and reggae festival she runs, Om & Bass.
The journey to bendiness.
We used to have yoga at our law firm so I was practicing it quite a lot there – but I was also practicing alcoholism, rampantly. I used yoga to integrate a grain of sanity into my day as a lawyer. The more yoga I did, the more I thought ‘this feels great.’ And it made me more flexible for my martial arts which I’ve done since I was six. Then the whole lawyer thing came to a horrendous head; in short I was asked to leave on account of having a girlfriend. That was really harsh and horrible and I kind of lost the plot a little bit. I went completely downhill. Major depression, major anxiety. My mum was like ‘I think you need some more yoga.’ I went to India and trained as a yoga teacher, not really expecting to ever teach it as a job – I even came back and did other admin and legal work. Then I thought ‘this office work isn’t really working out for me’, more and more people wanted me to teach them yoga, and I ended up leaving my desk job.
You could get physical… but it’s not compulsory.
Yoga just means union, coming back to yourself. The physical aspect of it – called asana – keeps you in the moment. Most of us don’t stay in the moment; we’re constantly planning, fretting, worrying and getting angry. We’re in our head and the physical brings us into our body, where we make better decisions and are generally better people. There are eight different limbs of yoga though, the physical being just one – they include breathing, meditation, concentration. So if you’re not a physical person it doesn’t mean you can’t do yoga.
The birth and growth of Om & Bass.
When I started Om & Bass five years ago there weren’t wellbeing festivals. There were only let’s-damage-our-liver festivals. I was doing yoga retreats and thinking how expensive they were – only a few people can go on them. I really love festivals and just had one of those eureka moments: ‘I could have a yoga festival where people can choose their classes, do what they like when they like, and camp over.’ For the first one 100 people came, the next one 250, then 500, now we’re at 1,000. The community has grown, we’ve got a huge LGBT crowd, and loads of different ages (even my nan comes – she’s 80).
People teach Asian martial arts, African dance, African drumming, African yoga. There’s laughter yoga (it’s great – you have no choice but to be off your face on endorphins), there’s meditation, relaxations, sound therapy – really varied. And people teach the classes for nothing so ticket prices are lower than other festivals.
This year’s music.
On Friday evening it’s an all-female DJ line-up called The Ladies Who Lunge, playing funk, soul, old-school R&B, hip-hop and roots reggae. It’s a collective of five women from all over the country headed up by a lady called Kira Kira. On Saturday there’s Jimmy Thunder – One Love Festival 2019 DJ Competition winner. We’ve also got ADHDJ doing the daytime sets.
I’ve had people offer to buy in to Om & Bass, and I’ve just had to be really, really firm: I’m going to keep it. You think ‘maybe they could take some of the stress off me...’ but no, because then they make some of the decisions. That could mean fewer free tickets for people who need them (I give away loads to less abled people and single parents); or maybe they’d want to book huge music acts which actually this festival isn’t about – it’s about supporting local talent of which there is so much. It’s not a commercial event, that’s how it’s going to stay – keep it in the family.
Om & Bass Wellbeing & Reggae Festival
26-28 July | Hill Farm Animal Sanctuary, Watlington Rd