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International Yoga Festival 2014

A DAY IN THE LIFE

sunny 67 °F

The alarm goes off at either 3:35 AM or 6:05 AM depending on whether or not I do the early morning Sadhana (spiritual practice). If I don't talk myself out of Sadhana, I embark on a 2.5 hour Kundalini practice that uses chanting, meditation and repetitive heat building movements known as Kriyas.

Kundalini, briefly and probably inadequately described, is a Tantric sect of Yoga that aims at awakening dormant energy. You have probably noticed Kundalini Yogis wearing all white with white turbans on their heads Sikh style. You stared awkwardly, wondered why, then went about your day.

Well, Kundalini is described as a fire or a sleeping serpent that sits at the base of your 1st Chakra waiting for you to realize the full potential which has always lived within you, so it may rise to your 7th and tip-top Chakra. This is known as the "Kundalini Rising", "sleeping serpent awakened" or when Shakti reunites with Shiva. If you were to peek into one of the morning classes, you might think you stumbled on some sort of seance with all the chanting and odd movements repeated over and over again. Or maybe it will just remind you of a rave around 7am. Anyway, I don't think my Shakti reached Shiva but there was fire and bliss, love and hate, and dormant energy definitely alivened. About 30 minutes in, I wanted to escape via sleep but I hung in there and allowed the songs to transport my mind away from the negative chatter that keeping saying "this is stupid." Then, just as dawn is beginning to break and you are feeling that bliss that comes when you've accomplished something you thought you wouldn't but hoped you would, they play the sweetest song:

May the longtime Sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And may your light within you guide your way on
....guide your way on.

There are over 20 classes offered everyday from 4 am til 5pm. Classes from Pranayama (breath work) to Meditation, to Reiki, to Laughing Yoga with a 105 year old Yogi, to Yoga philosophy, to an Indian spices cooking class. Every type of Yoga Asana (Yoga as it's known in the West) imaginable is offered including Kundalini, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yoga Nidra, Jivamukti, Iyengar and even some new forms of Yoga Asana that have joined forces with Tai Chi and Qi Gong to create a Yoga hybrid.

The aim here- although it is not an aim as much as it just happens authentically- is to observe Yoga as a whole not just the Asana Yoga we practice in the West. Short sermon begins now: Yoga is NOT nor has never been just a bunch of postures used to get more flexibilty or a cutter butt. But in the West, we manage to borrow from other cultures and strip all the meaning and ritual off it until it is suitable for whatever self serving need we have - which in this case is fitness. Okay done ;-)

I took one class from a most beautiful specimen named Yogi Cameron. A supermodel turned Yogi. Half Iranian, half English, all the way gorg. He taught 2 classes on creating your own home practice including all the limbs of Yoga as explained in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. I really tried to play it cool in his class. You know, keep it Yogic. Besides I see beautiful people all day long in L.A. No biggie! But then he went and took his shirt off to show a type of abdominal lock called Uddiyanda Bahnda. You could sense a slight hesitation in taking his shirt off as I am sure he is used garnering unwanted attention at this part of class. You could also tell that all the ladies (shocking that mostly women in his seminar right?) - myself SURELY included - were a having A MOMENT...several. We kept it together though. Definitely went back to his class the next day though...in the name of Yoga of course ;-)

Just in case you're interested...http://www.yogicameron.com/

To end the day, there is Aarti. At around 5:30pm everyday, the whole town of Rishikesh and my Ashram in particular celebrates Happy Hour. Not a cocktail in sight of course! Trade the martini glass for a Dias (oil lamp). For an hour there is the most beautiful ceremony on the banks of Maha Ganga called Aarti. The ceremony first begins with Havan, a purifying ritual where you gather around a fire and offer impurities- your anger, jealousy, lust, etc - to the fire. The whole time their is singing of chants and mantras which I do not know the words to but it never matters. The energy is electric, the sun is setting, birds fly in unison above, and the Himalayas gently roar from above. It is a perfect setting that would make the most mundane feel like a holy experience! Then you go the the Ganga and rinse your face, rinse your pains. You can place a flower dedication if you like and watch it float down the river with your wish...your prayer. I have sent many down the river as a token of thanks for many of you who sit reading these words. Deep Gratitude.

I can come again and again and it always feels like new. I always feel refreshed. Grateful.

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Posted by Ivoriejenkins 08:44 Archived in India Tagged internationalyogafestival

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Beautiful.

by Miss Florence

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