Tuesday, May 17, 2011

C.C. White Videos

Dearest Bhakta,

C.C. White is our May Kitan OMbassador... that means we get to post about her A LOT! ;)

Here are some of her videos from the Spring OMmersion. Hope you enjoy!


Don't miss the beautiful letter she wrote for our newsletter today. To sign up, click here (bottom left, below menu bar).

Bhakti Fest Blogger

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Our May Kirtan OMbassador with Howard Wills

C.C. White is this month's kirtan OMbassador!

Please join C.C. and Bhakti Fest Presenter Howard Wills at the Golden Bridge in Los Angeles this Saturday for a healing workshop.

Watch out for C.C.'s message to Bhakti Fest in next week's newsletter.

Bhakti Fest Blogger

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What People are Saying...

... about the Spring OMmersion!

"This year my life changed. I knew you guys had “something that I wanted” I have never had so much fun nor felt so good." -ADAM

"This last weekend was one of my favorite to date. Thank you SO MUCH for the vision and for including us in it. This was truly for me an immersion in Bhakti Yoga. I came out transformed. Mostly what was special was the opportunity to 'drop in' with people from the community and feel inspired and renewed. I am a huge fan of Bhakti Fest. " - KIA MILLER
"What a weekend. It was totally epic! The shanti vibe was so sweet." -GOVINDAS & RADHA

"It is an honor to be part of the Bhakti Fest tribe." -ALVIN YOUNG (The Wild Lotus Band)

"The spring ommersion such a beautiful experience. With each Bhakti Fest event, the bhav and community gets deeper and richer and more powerful. Can't wait till september...." -SEAN JOHNSON

What do you have to say about OMmersion 2011? Fill out our feedback form here.

Bhakti Fest

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Present from Our Friends at OmStream

OmStream.com is THE download store for music of a higher vibration! Enjoy Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer, David Newman (Durga Das)and Donna De Lory plus many more. Also, enjoy our OM MEMBERSHIP level for FREE for 3 months! As an OM Memberyou receive our 24/7 preview channel streaming radio, a 25% discount on ALL songs and albums; and special discounts offered inour newsletters. Simply click here to use the code BHK11.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chant with Every Step

Think you have to wait for a special moment when you are at a kirtan concert, or listening to Krishna Das in your car? Kasey Luber knows every moment can be infused with devotional music!

What do you like to chant when you walk around town?

Blessings and love,
Bhakti Fest Blogger

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day Passes... NOW Available!

If you can only get away for one day of the 3-day OMmersion, it's now possible to purchase day passes!

If you are planning on pre-registering for classes, remember to do it before this Friday.

Bhakti OM!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transcending with Bhakti

Thank you to Julianne Reynolds for this beautiful mini-documentary from Bhakti Fest 2010. Hear deeply moving interviews with Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer, C.C. White, and so many more of our talented (and wise) performers.

Blessings on your path,
Bhakti Fest

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jai Jai Hanuman!

Check out the latest video from our Bhakti Blogger: the wonderous Kasey Luber!

It's Hunuman Day at Esalen and so many of our friends came to merge in the bliss. Look for Momo Loudiyi, Saul David Raye, Sianna Sherman, Janet Stone, Jeremy Simon and more!

Bhakti Blessings and Bliss,
Bhakti Fest

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saul in India

Check out this beautiful video edited by Kasey Luber, our favorite Bhakti Vlogger!

Travel to India from home for the spiritual journey of the Kumba Mehla. Bhakti Fest yoga teacher Saul David Raye explains shares his experience of the biggest event of the year. Enjoy!

Bhakti Fest

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All Roads Lead to Bhakti Fest!

Enjoy this cute Bhakti Fest jingle by Bhakti Fest artist Tony Khalife!

Thank you Tony Khalife, Dawn Cartwright, Elaskary (Gitali) and Sheila Vosough!

Love and blessings,
Bhakti Blogger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snatam in LA Dream Giveaway

This contest ends February 25th! Don't miss the opportunity to win 10 free tickets to see Snatam Kaur in L.A. And don't miss the bloopers at the end. Very funny.

Visit the Spirit Voyage forum and submit your story!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Yoga of Relationship

Please enjoy this beautiful message from our Yoga OMbassadors Hemalayaa & Mas Vidal. Meet them in person at the Spring OMmersion or at Dancing Shiva in Hollywood CA (where they both teach).

"Bhakti is the nectar of the Yoga tradition and through the experience of life we have learned to take many opportunities as gifts to honor the divine. We find that in relationship with each other we are given a glimpse of that higher knowledge of understanding, forgiveness, patience and acceptance in all circumstances. It's a challenge to be consistent with the intentions sometimes (most times), but we can see that these things can ultimately bring us greater joy and happiness. When we are over-flowing with love for the Divine, that dazzling creative potential within us as individuals is beautifully able to flow through us. As we honor the multitude of Divine Couples (Shiva-Shakti, Krishna-Radha etc…), we can see the qualitites of that union reflected onto our lover which is everything our souls yearn for. We are then inspired to serve each other in the name(s) of God & Goddess.

Aum Nama Shivaya, Aum Shakti MA!
Hemalayaa & Mas Vidal"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stay Stong and Keep Your Faith Alive

Today is the Official Release of the "Stay Strong" Music Video!

The Stay Strong Project is a charity offering in the style of 'We Are The World'. Over 30 Chant and Yoga Luminaries have come together to join their voices and hearts on a song and video entitled, ‘Stay Strong’ for a worthy environmental cause.

Stay Strong participants include: David Newman, Mira, Krishna Das, Seane Corn, Jai Uttal, Wah, Sharon Gannon, Snatam Kaur, Sean Johnson, Donna De Lory, Gaura Vani, Dave Stringer, Girish, Shantala, Shyam Das, Govindas and Radha, Suzanne Sterling, Kirtan Rabbi, C.C. White, Saul David Raye, Bob Wisdom, Prema Hara, Brenda McMorrow, Amy Barnes, Gina Sala, Yvette Om, Zat Baraka, Terra Gold, Philippo Franchini, Tony Khalife, Radhanath Swami, and more...

100% of the proceeds of Stay Strong go to Global Green USA, a non-profit organization supporting efforts for the Gulf Coast recovery and other environmental and humanitarian concerns. So, when you download the song Stay Strong from iTunes and other digital sites, you will be directly donating to Global Green’s environmental efforts! Stay Strong will be distributed by Nutone Music.

The vision of The Stay Strong Project is to spread a global message of unity and to inspire others to come together in service, celebration, and prayer, and to remain positive in challenging times. The Stay Strong Project also aims at bringing healing to our Mother Earth and to all who inhabit our beautiful planet!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band

A Message from Sean Johnson, Kirtan Wallah with The Wild Lotus Band & founder of Wild Lotus Yoga in New Orleans, LA.

“The Dalai Lama says "Don´t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are." There was a brief time when I first began singing kirtan when I wanted and tried so hard to sound Indian but I realized that the most sincere approach for me is to honor and celebrate the roots and tradition of mantra with love and respect, while simultaneously finding a voice for kirtan that springs out of the variety of musical and cultural influences that stir in my blood, heart, and soul.

So the Sanskrit mantras I practice and share marinate in the street rhythms of my New Orleans childhood; the haunting Irish songs I sing to connect with my ancestors; the Indian vocal practices that I have studied and practice regularly; the mystic poetry of Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai and others; the rhythmic and melodic flow of a vinyasa yoga practice and teaching; Alvin's inspiring voice on bass and guitar weaving the jazz, rock, classical, and folk styles he's been immersed in for the last 35 years; Gwendolyn's beautiful singing and intricate rhythms merging ancient ethnic rhythms with a modern, urban flare; my own life joys and struggles and those of our home and community; the playfulness and light I feel in the presence of my love Farah; a reverence for the gifts passed on by my parents and ancestors; and a great respect for the mystery that nourishes creativity and feeds the heart.

Bhakti yoga is about channeling emotional experience into a love affair with Life itself. And kirtan is a form of lovemaking with the divine. It is an act of kindling the connection with the sacred presence within us through the sincerity of singing. Just as we stretch our bodies with yoga asanas, kirtan stretches our hearts, and cultivates emotional flexibility.

In kirtan, we celebrate the longing and thirst for god and sing from that place, because it's that hunger that milks the heart. Kirtan is a form of purification. Kirtan is an act of liberation. The mantras sensitize us, polish away the clutter in our heads and melt the numbness in our hearts, so we feel clear, awake, and brilliantly alive. The singing melts our inhibitions. The frozen places inside us defrost and we start to move and play like children.

Kirtan is a meditation practice. Our wandering minds have the opportunity to return again and again to the touchstone of the repeated mantra, an invitation into the present. Kirtan can be a gateway into sacred silence. The striking contrast between the dynamic energy of kirtan and the sweetness of the silence is profound. The mantras themselves are medicine, soothing the monkey mind, awakening healing, and tuning the head to the heart.

Kirtan is pranayama. The repetition of the breath regulates our breath pattern, stoking the prana. Kirtan is good for our health-- the mantras vibrate and massage our muscles, tissues, bones, and organs. The word sound is even a synonym for health, for stability. Kirtan is therapeutic. So many people have lost touch with the power of their voice and their creative expression and kirtan is a direct path to freeing the authentic voice within. Many people who love kirtan savor the opportunity to sing without being judged, and the cathartic and liberating power that comes with that experience.

Kirtan and other yoga practices help prepare us for change and transition, keeping our hearts and minds supple. So that when life stretches us, we can bend but not break. Kirtan creates community. Singing together, we merge with each other, and entrain with the divine vibration. Kirtan is a most sublime form of satsang, gathering with fellow seekers of truth to sing, to reach into the Within together.

When I close my eyes and sing the mantras, I feel so incredibly free, yet so present. One of the reasons I love leading kirtan so much is that I get to share my deepest most intimate practice with a group of people, and we nourish each other. There's a vibrant exchange, a transmission of energy circulating back and forth from hearts to hearts. A big THANK YOU to Bhakti Fest for creating such an amazing space where we can all come together to experience the joy of kirtan. We look forward to joining you at this year's April and September Bhakti Fest celebrations!”

For more videos from Sean Johson & The Wild Lotus Band, check out their youtube channel!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Do You Practice Bhakti?

This video was taken at the first Pre-Bhakti Fest Event of the year at Bhakti Yoga Shala. Thank you to David Newman (Durga Das), Mira & Philippo Franchini for sharing your beautiful music with us!

If you are wondering what the background music is taken from, I can tell you. It's off of Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band's album "Devaloka." The track is called "Devakinandana Gopala (Love)."

Bhakti Blogger

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seriously, Jai!

Jai Uttal shares his "See you at Bhakti Fest" theme song.

This is the beginning of something very exciting! The amazing Kasey Luber, who brought you all the "daily love" videos from Bhakti Fest 2010, will be making 3-4 videos a month on everything Bhakti!

For now, enjoy and haribol!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It Feels Good to Share!

With spaceshare, you can easily find/offer a ride to the April OMmersion! You can also find a roommate if you are looking to share a cabin with someone.

Thank you spaceshare!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bhakti Birthday Pilgrimage

{This letter is from Kimberly Loeb, who did Work Exchange last year at the yoga registration booth. Thank you Kimberly!}

My sister and I have spent my birthday at Bhakti Fest for the past two years and it has been so much fun that we now refer to the entire weekend as my "Bhakti Birthday." It is truly the best gift EVER -- especially when there is raw chocolate cake from the amazing Bhakti Fest vendors in the mix. I even found a Hawk feather (in perfect condition) on my birthday during the festival in 2009! Sooo much magic!

Some of my favorite Bhakti memories are:
~ Sleeping under the desert stars with the sounds of coyotes, owls and kirtan in the distant background.
~ Waking up to the Sun rising over Joshua Tree.
~ Amazing Yoga classes with Saul David Raye, and the Radiance Sutras with Lorin and Camille Roche.
~ MC Yogi, Dasi Karnamrita, Bhagavan Das, Gina Sala and Gaura Vani, just to name a few!
~ Spending time with my sister and all of the other amazing people at Bhakti Fest!

If you have a story from last year's festival, please share with us. Email sirgun@bhaktifest.com to submit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview with David Newman (Durga Das)

In this interview, our January Kirtan OMbassador, talks about the center of the Universe, his spiritual name, a beautiful moment with his father, the Stay Strong Project, "schlep yoga", a special addition to his band, and much more! Thank you David for your time!

David Newman (Durga Das)

Place of Birth:
Philadelphia. According to my mother, the center of the Universe.

First instrument played:
Violin, but my lessons were canceled when I was found using the bow as a baseball bat!

Who gave you your spiritual name?
Bhagavan Das

What does it mean to you?
It literally means servant of the Mother. To me it means striving to embody the qualities of Motherly love such as kindness, compassion, understanding, empathy, patience and selfless service to others.

How did you come to yoga and kirtan?
I first came to meditation as a child when my parents took my brother and me to be initiated in TM- Transcendental Meditation (it was in vogue in the 70’s). Yoga came later in college, first through a book and then through classes at the Sivananda Yoga Center on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. I was introduced to Kirtan while in Law School as a result of visits to Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, and the Siddha Yoga Ashram in South Fallsburg, NY.

Do you have a favorite kirtan "moment"?
Hmmm there have been so many… Well, since this is an interview for Bhakti Fest, I will say that last year the energy of debuting the song Stay Strong at Bhakti Fest definitely gets a God bump award! (Editor's note: watch the here) We were filming the song in our apartment and the message and energy of the song were very much in the forefront of my awareness. So when the song and chant took off, the electricity was palpable. I felt like we were all being lifted by the Shakti of the moment. The greatest joy in Kirtan, for me, is when the many hearts and voices present come together as one. That merging brings indescribable bliss.

Another special moment that comes to mind was early in my traveling days. I had gone to Berlin, Germany with my Father. He had a medical convention, and I gave a yoga workshop and kirtan there. He decided to attend the Kirtan. Up until then, I got the sense that he really didn’t understand my passion for kirtan, though he was very supportive. Anyway, about two-thirds into the kirtan, we were deep in an Om Namah Shivaya chant. The Bhava was delightful, and full of that levity and peace that chanting to Shiva brings. At that time, I was playing a harmonium. At some point I opened my eyes and looked up at my Father. He looked back at me, smiled, and gave me ‘two thumbs up’. I knew he got it. What a great and loving affirmation that was for me!

Do you have a favorite mantra?
Honestly, they are all my favorites at different times. It is interesting how from Kirtan to Kirtan, that magic can shift between various mantras. One Kirtan, Jai MA takes the Bhava cake and the next one belongs to the Maha Mantra, and so on. One thing I’ve learned from my many years of chanting… that every mantra moment is unique and special in it’s own way. I do my best to stay open to the moment and I very much honor the grace of spontaneity! Of course, my Sat Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, continuously repeated the name of Rama. So, Ram Nam, as a practice, is very dear to me.

When did you write your first song?
Soon after my uncle bought me my first guitar for my bar mitzvah at 13. I always gravitated to writing songs rather than practicing my scales.

Can you tell us about Stay Strong and what it means to you:
Stay Strong is a song I wrote that is accompanied by a Rama Bolo chant. I wrote it during the time when all of us were distraught about the Gulf Coast Oil Spill in the summer of 2010. It was also a time when the economy had taken a down turn. On my travels, I saw that so many felt helpless and hopeless. So, in response to this, I wrote the song, on which the chorus is ‘Stay Strong: Keep Your Faith Alive’. My wife, Mira and I had an idea to record the song and invite the Chant and Yoga community to join us. We also thought it timely to have the proceeds of the song benefit the Gulf Coast recovery and the environment. This vision gave rise to The Stay Strong Project that unfolded with an abundance of grace. The filming was done at Bhakti Fest in September, and the song and video will be released on February 8th, with all proceeds going to Global Green USA, a non-profit environmental organization!

How do you feel the kirtan movement is growing?
It continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Last year I called Bhakti Fest ‘Heaven on Earth’, which is how I felt. For me, regardless of faith, culture or nationality, Kirtan speaks directly to the heart which is why I believe that so many from all around the world have gravitated to Kirtan! It is a perfect, direct, joyful, and simple remedy to the challenges and complexities of modern life.

Have you ever performed somewhere where it was unlikely that they would be receptive to kirtan but were delightfully surprised?
Yes, you can never guess where you will be greeted with the most enthusiasm. It is not necessarily where you think it will be. I find that all it really takes are a few Kirtan enthusiasts to light up an entire community. Sometimes it takes a little time, but it ultimately always grows into something special. Bhakti energy not only thrives in big cities, but has blossomed in small towns that you would have never expected it to be.

Have you ever performed somewhere where it was unlikely that they would be receptive to kirtan and they weren't?
Not that I can remember, but maybe I’ve blocked it out.

What is touring like for you?
Touring is just a joy. What could be more wonderful than singing kirtan night after night and connecting with so many kindred spirits in loving communities? I feel really blessed and am deeply gratitude to be doing this. Plus I get to travel together with my wonderful wife Mira, and some deeply gifted musicians, who are also good friends. Ok maybe all the actual travel, and luggage aren’t all that glamorous, but believe me, I’m not complaining!! I jokingly say that over the years I’ve been mastering a very specific yoga sadhana that I call ‘Schlep Yoga’ :-). Coming soon, we will have an extra member of our traveling posse. In May, my wife Mira and I are expecting our first child… that should add a whole new element to the journey. One that we’re very much looking forward to!

More more information on David Newman, click here. Don't miss David Newman and Mira at Bhakti Yoga Shala on January 29th @ 7:30pm! More info.

Is this Your Sunbrella?

I was looking through our festival photos for the website and found these beautiful shots of women with parasols. Since we can't see a face, if this is you, let us know.
This one was taken by the Second Stage

This one was taken in "Oracle Row" by the Yoga Hall

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did You Get LOVE This Summer?

This is from Opening Day at Bhakti Fest 2010! Did you get your daily dose of love this summer?

Thank you to Kasey Luber and Yoga Aid for these amazing videos! If you want to see more from Kasey's yoga tour this summer, check this out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spread the Y.O.G.A. this Month!

At Y.O.G.A. for Youth they believe "Yoga + Urban Youth = Success!"

If you go to their website, you'll see this:

Y = Your
O = Own
G = Greatness
A = Affirmed

Yoga in Sanskrit means "to unite," and that's just what this clever acronym suggests.

When you are aware of your own greatness, you can become aware of the greatness of the Universe that you are part of. You become aware of the infinite reality in which you dwell and breathe. You become grateful for it.

Many children feel a sense of disconnection from the whole, which can cause a slue of development problems. At Y.O.G.A. for Youth, they bring yoga to the most under-served communities - incarcerated youth, and youth at risk.

See for yourself in this video:

Help support this wonderful organization this month by attending a benefit class at your local yoga studio!

Here are a mere handful of options. For more, click here.
  • Friday, January 14 @ 9:00 with Hala Khouri at Exhale, Venice, CA.
  • Sunday, January 16 @ 10:00 with Govindas & Radha at Bhakti Yoga Shala, Santa Monica, CA
  • Monday, January 24 @ 7:00pm with Krishna Kaur at 10th Gate Yoga, Los Angeles, CA
Enjoy your yoga so the kids can too!

In love,
Bhakti Fest 2011

Stay Strong, Keep Your Faith Alive

This January 29th there is a very special event at Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica, CA.

Our first Pre-Bhakti Fest Event of the year is also a "Stay Strong" event. This project was started by David Newman (Durga Das)'s song "Stay Strong."

And if you're wondering what that sounds like... check out the performance at Bhakti Fest 2010. You'll even spot Govindas of Bhakti Yoga Shala in the audience. Enjoy!

Blessings of the Most High,
Ram Ram Ram,
Bhakti Fest 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dashama Presents...

Check out this video that Dashama "yogini extraordinaire" made for this month's newsletter. She is the January Yoga OMbassador for Bhakti Fest!

The Yoga OMbassador is selected every month. We choose someone whom we feel is living their practice on Earth--in their thoughts, in their actions, in their intentions.

You'll see why we felt Dashama was an excellent choice as you listen to her explain what "bhakti" means to her.

Join her for Teacher Training in Bali! More info here.

Many blessings,
Bhakti Fest

Monday, January 10, 2011

Joyful in January

David Newman (Durga Das), is the January OMbassador for Bhakti Fest! The honor of "Kirtan OMbassador" is given to a kirtan artist whom we feel embodies the ideals of Bhakti. David Newman lives his yoga practice in each performance, uplifting audiences all around the country through the gift of his devotion.

This is a message from him, which we published in our monthly newsletter. If you would like to be on our mailing list, please sign up on our website.

Namaste Everyone,

I hope the New Year is in sweet flow for you. I am sensing that 2011 is going to be filled with great magic and grace for all of us. In my life lately, the theme of awakening has been coming up strongly. That we can awaken to what we already are is a great paradox and mystery. I recently read a great quote that said, 'he who seeks the light, actually has his hands over his eyes'. This touched me deeply. Could it be that simple? Could what we seek be so obvious and right in front of us? I believe that it is and that Kirtan and Bhakti practice are designed to wear down the resistance that prevents us from realizing the inevitable truth... that we are not separate from each other, or from God. As Neem Karoli Baba would say, 'Sub Ek', meaning that it is All One! For me, the gift of singing Kirtan is that it bathes us so deeply in joy. Through repeated exposure, we eventually cannot deny that this joy is actually who we really are. At some point, when we hit a critical mass, we are willing to put down our hands and see that the light we have yearned for has been there all along. That is when a seeker becomes a finder, and I believe that to be our true destiny!

Sending Love,

Is he coming to a town new you?

Tuesday, January 4 @ 7:00pm
Agape Healing Center - 900 Roosevelt Ave.

Saturday, January 8 @ 7:00pm
Joyflow Yoga Studio - 7048 Old Canton Rd., Suite 2F

Friday, January 21 @ 8:00pm
Urban Flow - 1543 Mission, St.

Shakti Music Festival with Girish
Saturday, January 22 @ 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Pacific Cultural Center - 1307 Seabright Ave.
Purchase Tickets