This past weekend I had the awesome pleasure of going to the first (soon to be annual) Bhakti Fest Midwest. It was a truly heart opening experience, as all in attendance practiced yoga, learned at workshops and experienced ecstatic chanting and dancing fun through kirtan. Whoo- hoo!! What a hot, sweaty, shiny liberating good time! For those of you not familiar with kirtan, it is the devotional practice of chanting the many names of the Divine and experiencing the love and divinity that always surrounds you in abundance when you dare to open your eyes and heart.
I say dare because it can be so very scary to live life with an open heart. If you are open to feeling and experiencing everything this life has to offer, there is a chance you will get hurt… and we all will sooner or later. Intense sensation is part of the human experience.
This weekend shook some things up in me and reminded me that yoga is so much more than the “blissed-out” sensation that can sometimes accompany the practice. Yoga is a tool for all the times in your life. Being a yogi/yogini does not mean that you must constantly maintain a state of serenity and detachment… this is not realistic for a long term state while operating as a householder in the wide world.
Being a yogi/yogini simply means that you allow your higher consciousness to bear witness to all of your experiences. Yoga teaches you tools to observe what shows up in your life on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels without passing judgement. Yoga lets you breathe into those observations and sit with whatever you find, rather than defaulting to whatever knee-jerk reaction patterns that may have held you in the past.
I have noticed for a while that before I teach a class I feel the need to put on the yoga teacher persona, the calm, chill act. While I am at many times both calm and chill, at many others I am goofy, silly, happy and very enthusiastically fired-up about shit that I love. Sometimes I say words like “shit,” too.
I have been fighting this battle with “vanilla” for as long as I can remember… the need to make myself more bland and palatable so as to be more widely accepted and to not offend. While there is nothing wrong with vanilla (if that is your natural resonance), there is something that feels very wrong with continually trying to hide or erase anything that might make me seem odd or quirky… it feels like I’m squashing my own fun. I’m so done with that. My fun wants out… and it wants yours to come out, too.
I’m not really sure what flavor of ice cream I am, but I am becoming more sure every day that it isn’t vanilla. As long as it’s not pralines and somethin (think Wayne’s World) I’m okay with whatever flavor continues to develop as I let my fun emerge. It is my intention to let my heart shine in all it’s beautiful, vulnerable glory… to give myself permission to be weird and silly and as long as I’m not hurting anyone, to not take it personally if “me doing me” doesn’t work for everyone.
This realization has allowed me to be more real with students in the classes that I teach and with the practice members in my chiropractic practice. My husband Paul recently participated in a yoga class that I was teaching and remarked that it felt the most authentic that my teaching had in a long time. My heart is full and grateful for the reminder that Bhakti Fest provided by once again breaking it open through the gifts of yoga and joyful song and dance.
Until next time… breathe and keep it real