The you-ness part of you

James Kapicka, yoga instructor and festival producer


The Transcendence festival happens October 3 through October 6 at Camp Pollock, 467 Del Paso Boulevard. Single-day tickets for adults cost $66, a three-day pass costs $159, a youth three-day pass costs $66, and kids 12 and younger can attend for free. Camping passes are $42-$102 (additional service charges will be applied to all passes). For more information, visit

For the past five months—when he's not teaching at one of seven or eight yoga studios in Sacramento or Santa Barbara (where he now splits his time)—James Kapicka has been planning Transcendence, a festival which takes place October 3 through 6 at Camp Pollock. Its activities are best divided into four categories called “pillars of intention,” said Kapicka on a recent morning, over a cup of tea. They're listed on the festival website as: Community Through Connection; Nature, Ecology & Conservation; Health, Consciousness, and Well being; and Art, Music, & Creative Expression. Because this is the first Transcendence festival, there's no way of knowing exactly what it'll be like, but the way Kapicka describes it, it may turn out to be something like combining a yoga festival, a community gathering, Burning Man and a traditional music festival.

“Namaste.” What does that mean, and do people actually use it outside of a yoga class?

Some of them do. It's a pretty traditional hello and goodbye in India. But more literally, it's usually translated to “the divine light in me bows to the divine light in you.” It's recognition that the divine in me or the spirit in me and the spirit in you are the same thing. So you're acknowledging the sameness in one another, I guess.

How’d you go from teaching yoga to executive producing a festival?

I started going to festivals when I was 19, I think—reggae festivals to begin with. The co-producer for this event is a good friend of mine who I met in Thailand and we went to Burning Man a couple times. And he started an event-production company in Santa Barbara called Poi Zen Production. And so I had the idea of putting on a yoga festival in Sacramento for about five years, and we started collaborating and talking about what it would actually look like, and it kind of surfaced that for both of us, we would rather see it be a transformational gathering, and have a lot more components—including ecology and wellness—than something so narrow. So that's what it's evolved into.

You’re partnering with Sol Collective on something called Kindred Patch. What’s that?

It's our family camp. But it's not children's programming, it's family—meaning if grandma's with a 5-year-old kid and she wants to take the yoga class or the painting class or the drum workshop, it's all-ages activities and it's all within the same area. So families can come and stay in this area if they want, or they can take their kid and go to the live stage and dance and go get food. But it's meant to be kind of like a complete village within a village. They have their own medical area, their own water, so they're fully comprehensive. Sol Collective is bringing aesthetics. They're bringing workshops. They're bringing a lot.

Are lots of local yoga studios, musicians and artists participating, too?

Sacramento's bringing its own authenticity to it. The “community and the connection” pillar means supporting this community by trying to bring in teachers and artists and musicians from locally first. We have people from all over the festival circuit, but we're trying to bring people from Sacramento and Davis, Placerville and Grass Valley together, so people can actually go connect with a local teacher they can go take a class with, rather than a rock-star teacher from Los Angeles. So basically trying to integrate because a lot of the momentum for me came from seeing all these compartmentalized little communities, and being like, “These people need to come together.” They're all working with movement and creative expression and health and there's so much overlap here, but it's easy to be stuck in these little communities.

What kind of crowd do you expect to draw? Burners, people into yoga, music fans?

From the core internally, what I had good reach into was the yoga and wellness community. And then we're bringing in artists and musicians that people might come to the event from out of town to see. Ideally, people are having new experiences. They just get to do different dance classes, workshops, yoga—things that they haven't been exposed to. Integration is a big push, like giving people first-time, liberating, creative experiences. We have a community mural that you can walk up to and paint on at any point—things people are reluctant about, have self-doubt about, getting people to just throw that out and be uninhibited.

So, there’s a lot of interactive stuff?

That's something that regular festival attendees understand; that's the culture being created right now. Like some of these events—Coachella or Bonnaroo or Electric Daisy Carnival—they're events where you go pay a premium price and you are entertained, you witness. Versus something like Burning Man which is very participant-driven, and that's the culture that's been brought into these transformational gatherings. Bring your “you-ness.” We want you to be yourself, and some of that is we have people painting themselves up like mimes and doing circus performances—not on a stage, but just as they walk around and interact with people because they want to, you know?