Otakon 2017

My excitement began to grow, exponentially, the closer we got to the Washington Convention Center, Thursday evening.  The moment I had been waiting for, for months, was quickly approaching!  After months of planning and waiting, it was now time to start my first weekend as a presenter at my very first Otakon!
As April, my friend and assistant, and I got out of our Uber we immediately saw the line of cosplayers waiting in line to retrieve their passes for the weekend ahead.  Luckily, since I was presenting two workshops during the weekend, we were able walk right in, even though the line did seem to move quickly.  Once inside, we were greeted by our escort who guided us and a few other presenters up to our check-in room.  As we went up the escalator I turned to April and said, “I feel like a Rockstar”!

We quickly checked in and received our special Otakon badges and “panelist” purple ribbon and made our way into the special panelist lounge and enjoyed the array of snacks and beverages the convention offered for us.  I have to say it was super cool having a VIP area for us to relax and escape the mass crowd. We definitely enjoyed the VIP room and took advantage of it the entire weekend.

Now it was finally time for me and April to explore the convention center and find the room where we would be presenting. Stepping into the Convention Center the realization of just how HUGE the space is, blew us away! It took some brain power, and some help from the friendly Otakon staff, but we finally found our room.  After exploring the convention center for a little while longer, it was time for me to head back to my hotel room to rest. I had to be up early the next morning to present my first workshop: Hidden Leaf Shinobi Yoga!

If you don’t know anything about me, here is one very important fact you need to know, I am not a morning person.  The next morning, as usual I pushed my snooze button one too many times and was now running late for my 9:30am arrival time at the Convention Center.  Luckily, my Shikamaru costume is rather easy to put on, and my hair was already straightened, so I quickly bolted out of the hotel and, surprisingly, arrived on time!  As I walked through the Convention Center and made my way to my workshop room, I immediately forgot the stress of my chaotic morning. I basked in the overwhelming energy emanating from everyone enjoying the first official day of Otakon 2017.

As I approached the room where I would be hosting Hidden Leaf Shinobi Yoga, I quickly noticed a long line of people. “I guess they are waiting in line for another workshop”, I thought.  Little did I know this was, in fact, the long line of Naruto fans waiting in line to take MY Workshop!  I was now filled with joy that this many people were excited and wanting to take my themed yoga class that I poured my heart and soul into creating!  I was grinning, just like when Naruto starts eating a delicious bowl of Ramen.

Once I made my way past the line and into the room, I began the final preparations for my class.  The sound technician, who looked exactly like Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, set up my music and handed me my mic.  It was now 9:45 am and time to start letting my fellow shinobi into the room.  Shinobi and tourists of all types were making their way onto the yoga floor and preparing for yoga class.  A yoga class that would help them prepare for the challenges they might face in the Chunin Exam.

Shikamaru finally and reluctantly started the preparations for yoga class.  Yes, even our favorite lazy and unmotivated shinobi was actually excited about leading all of these fine shi      nobi through this taijutsu focused class.  Shikamaru first lead everyone through the famous “shinobi sun dance”, a self-lead physical practice that not only helps warm-up our body but helps us focus our mind and gather up chakra.  After everyone’s chakra was rejuvenated, we found a partner and began learning partner jutsu.  We experienced and played with a variety of jutsu that required patience, stamina and working with a fellow shinobi.  After several easy jutsus we began to learn more challenging jutsus that required unique skills and ultimate chakra control.  Even our teacher Shikamaru, after several quips about how much of a drag it was going to be, even found a partner to demonstrate some of the more physical type jutsus.

At this point, it was time to start training on three-man squad techniques that require the highest level of shinobi and team work.  Through these acro-yoga excercises we quickly learned that some shinobi in attendance could jump in and complete the ultimate 4 shinobi mud wall jutsu, even our lil show off Naruto jumped in on the fun!

Finally, we ran like shinobi back to the village and began resting in savasana where I, aka Shikamaru, performed the forbidden 61-point chakra renewal genjutsu.  This genjutsu, along with a special chakra renewal spray concocted by the great fifth Hokage Lady Tsunade, would replenish everyone’s chakra and energy to go off and enjoy the rest of their weekend.

After this very exciting and fun-filled class, April and I, still incognito as Shikamaru, enjoyed the rest of our Friday of Otakon.  We walked around the HUGE dealers room, enjoyed some delicious food and beverage, and shopped, still basking in the joy of leading a wonderful workshop that EVERYONE loved.  We even ran into some of those who attended our workshop and they shared that it was one of the best workshops/panels they had been too!  They were very excited to hear I was teaching another themed yoga class the next day: Kids Pokémon Yoga!

Saturday morning had arrived and I was decked out in my Pokémon Training gear and outfit.  We had a lovely turnout of kids and the ‘kids-at-heart’ for my Pokémon yoga adventure.  After a quick warm-up, the first thing we learned was how to handle Pokéballs, the most important tool for a Pokémon trainer.  We carefully gathered Pokéballs using the famous “toe-ga” method.  We had to be on guard though because the pesky Team Rocket would attack and steal our Pokéballs!  Even non-Team Rocket members quickly saw how much fun that was and performed their special “Team Rocket Attack”! Next, we then learned how to properly throw our Pokéballs to capture our favorite Pokémon.

Once everyone learned how to handle a Pokéball, we set off on our adventure.  As a group, we traveled to the different regions of Kanto to find and locate our favorite Pokémon.  We saw Pikachu and Pidgey in Commerce City as well as Squirtle and Goldeen on Camomile Island.  We even got a chance to perform the Goldeen Fish Dance!  We spotted MANY Pokémon on our adventure!  We even saw a Charmander evolve into Charmeleon and then into Charizard with our own eyes!  After witnessing this amazing, and quick, poke-evolution we traveled back home to rest in our own Pokéball, with our favorite Pokémon.  I shared my secret Pokémon healing essential oil spray that has been proven to quickly heal and revitalize Pokémon.

The weekend quickly flew by, April and I were now done presenting both workshops.  We were able to relax and enjoy looking at all the cosplays and meeting new friends and colleagues who were just as excited and energized as we were.  Our legs might have been tired from all the yoga and walking but just like Naruto we were able to scrape together some energy and power through the weekend.
As our time at Otakon ended we were both very sad that another con was ending.  Personally, being able to share these two special yoga themed yoga classes was a HUGE joy for me.  Being able to bring together two of my favorite things together to share with others is something I enjoyed doing.  On top of that being able to share it with hundreds of people and having them tell me how much they enjoyed it was the cherry on top of the whole weekend.  I cannot wait to share these two classes, and hopefully one or two new ones, at future cons next year.  I already have a new convention I am looking into applying too and looking forward to returning to Katsucon and Otakon in 2018!
Peace & Namaste

Sean Fraser – aka Shikamaru & Pokémon Yoga Trainer!

All photos were taken by April Weimer except the following: Sakura and partner holding thumbs up, solo guy in white t-shirt, and Deidra with the yellow hair photos were taken by Simon Chambers.

To view more photos you can click HERE, after 9/6/17, and be taken to a photo album on my Facebook page!

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