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Newtown Yoga Festival Partners With The Avielle Foundation’s Spark Program

Published: July 29, 2017

Update: This article has been updated from its July 28 print edition to clarify the Newtown Yoga Festival was founded in 2012 by Suzy DeYoung and Jennifer Smith.


The Newtown Yoga Festival announces that it has officially partnered with Spark, a localized group created by The Avielle Foundation, for its upcoming festival on August 26, from 9 am to 4 pm, at NYA Sports & Fitness Center, 4 Primrose Street.

Newtown residents Suzy DeYoung and Jennifer Smith cofounded the Newtown Yoga Festival back in 2012 with the goal for it to be a source of community and healing in town after 12/14.

The Avielle Foundation was created in 2013 in honor of Avielle Rose Richman, a first grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Ms DeYoung, who is also the director of Spark, explained, “The Avielle Foundation is national. It does neuroscience research, community engagement, and education to prevent violence and build compassion; that’s its mission. Spark is the exact same thing — it is just focused on Newtown, Connecticut.”

Spark devotes time to projects that encourage the community to learn more about brain/mental health. It recently organized a showing of Screenagers at Edmond Town Hall, designed its own after school program for youth, and actively conducts Brain Health First Aid Training to teach the signs and symptoms of somebody having a mental health crisis.

“The Avielle Foundation is all about science and brain health,” Ms DeYoung said. “Jeremy Richman [Avielle’s father and cofounder of The Avielle Foundation] is a neuroscientist and won’t do anything unless it is clinically based. The fact that we are combined with that now is important…”

Joining the Newtown Yoga Festival with Spark has been a perfect fit, Ms DeYoung said, “because yoga, meditation, dance, and all the things that happen at the festival are clinically proven to aid in recovery and trauma.”

Now in its fifth year, the Newtown Yoga Festival has grown exponentially, reaching hundreds of local residents, as well as yoga enthusiasts from all over New England.

The festival is known for its celebrity yoga instructors and this year will have the most it has ever showcased, with four headliners: Todd Norian, Hala Khouri, Kathryn Templeton, and Tao Porchon-Lynch.

“In the yoga world, they’re pretty much rock stars,” Ms DeYoung said with a smile.

The event’s morning community class will feature Mr Norian, who teaches Ashaya yoga that focuses on precise biomechanical alignment, as well as Ms Khouri, creator of the nonprofit Off The Mat And Into the World.

“Her background is trauma yoga and somatic experiences, which is working through trauma and psychological difficulties through movement rather than traditional therapy,” Ms DeYoung added.

The Newtown Yoga Festival’s afternoon community class will feature Ms Templeton, who has been a psychotherapist for more than 30 years and infuses yoga into her clinical practice; and the world renowned Mrs Porchon-Lynch.

The latter, Ms DeYoung said, “is 99 years young.”

With more than 70 years of yoga experience, Mrs Porchon-Lynch has made many television appearances, including being on America’s Got Talent, and was named the “Oldest Yoga Teacher” by Guinness World Records in 2012.

In addition to the community classes, this year’s Newtown Yoga Festival will have live music by the Rang RaaGa Kirtan Band, food by Seasonal Catering and Newtown’s Aquarian Catering, local vendors, and peace-promoting groups in the NYA’s courtyard.

Instead of the “Yoga Buffet” that was offered in previous years to have attendees try a variety of yoga practices, the courtyard will also feature yoga instructors demonstrating their styles.

The day’s activities will include Journey Dance with Joanne Keane, Hoopla Hoop Yoga with Alexandra Capaldo, Restorative Yoga with Newtown Yoga Center’s owner Aline Marie, Tai Chi with Robert Kwalick, and Children’s Yoga & Activities with Denise Nobile.

There will also be a silent auction where guests can be selected for number of prizes, including tickets to Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Local artist and Grammy nominee Aurelia will close the festival with “sound bath” chanting, joined by Casey Dixon and Kelvin Young.

Those interested in attending the Newtown Yoga Festival on August 26 are encouraged to give a suggested donation of $30 (it is $35 at the door) and bring their own mat, blankets, or props if desired. Children under 16 years old can attend for free.

Ms DeYoung says proceeds from the Newtown Yoga Festival will go directly to Spark “specifically to implement yoga and mindfulness programs in the community.”

For more information on Spark, visit or e-mail Suzy DeYoung at To learn more about the Newtown Yoga Festival and to register, visit


2017 Newtown Yoga Festival Schedule Of Events

*8:30 am — Registration

*9 am — Opening Sacred Space & Drum Circle

*9:30 am — Journey dance and Hoola Hoop Yoga

*10 am — Morning Community Class featuring Todd Norian and Hala Khouri

*11:30 am — Lunch and Shopping in the Courtyard

* 1 pm — Afternoon Community Class featuring Kathryn Templeton and Tao Porchon-Lynch

*3 pm — Relaxation with Sacred Sound Bath

*3:30 pm — Silent Auction Drawing

*4 pm — Closing Mantra & More Music

Information about the event’s special guest speaker has been updated from the July 28, 2017, print edition of The Newtown Bee based on information received from the yoga festival organizers on Thursday, July 27.


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