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 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