Yoga

Bhakti Fest | Review via VISION Magazine

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The Bhakti Fest Spring OMmersion is April 15th – 17th in Joshua Tree, CA!

Check out this article from VISION Magazine, a review of September’s Bhakti Fest, and get psyched for this year’s events!

Bhakti Fest

By Daphne Carter

Feel the Prana

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A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

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A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

It was hot this year, and there we were, a blended tribe of yogis, waking up to extreme desert heat, ready to synchronize ourselves to higher vibrations. And many of us were simply looking forward to built-up drama being burned away by the sun.

The 2010 Bhakti Fest was both a way in and a way out for people. The fierceness of the Joshua Tree’s arid landscape forced us to focus on what we needed to survive and stay healthy. It relieved us of our daily responsibilities. The amazing landscape at the Joshua Tree Spiritual Center was a sacred space which provided us an opportunity to celebrate our divinity.

Amazing artists (some of the most dedicated and talented in the Western kirtan world) like Krisna Das, Jai Uttal, Larisa Stow and the Shakti Tribe, and some of my personal favorites, Arjun Baba, and the Kirtaniyas, helped make the festival a powerhouse under the sun and stars.

From the beginning, there was something very soothing and reassuring about the opening puja (fire) ceremony. I felt a deep sense of solidarity between those of us who had at some time felt trampled on by life and were looking for ways to re-connect or stay connected. But many at the ceremony were people who devote themselves to something Higher, and are happy and content most of the time.

The Bhakti Fest journey began with a vigorous early morning yoga-asana session. As a raving asana junky myself, for those four days I would brave the heat and the little sleep on the brain, and peel myself away from the comfort of a very cute sleeping boyfriend, just to contort my body into weird positions—to feel the prana!

That is a way to remember that the body temple is the spiritual center from which everything flows. Wake up and feel the blood rushing through your veins! Open those energy centers! From there, everything else just kind of falls into place (I don’t understand how exactly). Although the mind will wander, yogis—like warriors—keep coming back to their center. Breathe. Focus. Drink water out there. Oh the agony of morning desert asana! What’s up with this heat?

Although the battle over distressing and overactive thoughts seems to never cease, don’t worry. Soon you’ll be relaxing under either of the shaded music tents—depending on your mood—and cooling off with a smoothie or a refreshing green superfood drink before you can say, “Haribol!”

This end of summer bhakti journey was, for many of us, a means to prepare the body and spirit for the harvest season, and especially, the onset of more reflective days. It was the first time I had experienced the phenomenon of four days of round-the-clock kirtan. The music just kept flowing! The tabla, the harmonium, and the sweet sound of devotee voices kept the air alive in the spirit of bhakti.

From our tent (far out in the campground), my boyfriend and I were constantly comforted by the hypnotic and melodious roll of ancient sounds and mantras. The sweet sound literally penetrated into our souls—the One Soul. We’d fall asleep to chanting—even if it was four in the morning. Then we’d wake up to chanting—even if it was only 6 a.m.! Wake up and get it all going again!

And let me just add that it was refreshing to be at a festival devoid of drug and alcohol debauchery. I learned a lot from these gorgeous, blissful people who don’t feel the need to dip into a liquor cabinet to achieve a state of euphoria or Oneness.

The Spirit Will Move You

At the heart of the event was devotion and the concepts of grace and self-surrendering. The purpose of the music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts (it’s not about how good you can belt out your best “Hare Hare,” but how you feel inside). In that vortex setting, there’s also an intense awareness that the body and spirit must work together to arrive at earthly states of harmony. Healthy people know this. During a kirtan session, our vibrations begin to synchronize and align themselves to each others’ vibrations.

Through this magical kirtan formula, our everyday vibrations begin to align even further out into stronger, more epic ones.

For me personally—as someone not attached to any religion—I’d like to add this: The experience felt liberating to my soul. It kept me afloat during an otherwise potentially dark period. It’s just amazing how powerful the resulting effect of conscious breathing and chanting in a group setting can be.

So for us city dwellers, the heroic mission of getting ourselves out to the desert—the outrageous gas, nothing but static on the radio, road trip snacks, the passage through Palm Springs’ enigmatic windmill city—is worth the trip, in my opinion. We all could use a little healing.

And if you’re keen to the idea, you could look at it as another phase in your spiritual journey. Bhakti Fest is on for 2011. If you missed it this year, don’t worry—you can go next year. Get back to the heart, people! Jai Ma!

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