Hanuman Festival: Advice for Newcomers

By: Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Yoga festivals are full of energy—the sun is shining, music is playing, and people are everywhere. On the lawn friends laugh while slacklining, hula hooping, or practicing handstands. This can all be great fun and can sometimes feel overwhelming. If you are new to town all of this excitement might leave you feeling groundless and vulnerable.

The very principles that guide your yoga practice can help you find balance amidst all of this activity. Here are five tools to help you get the most out of Hanuman Festival:

1. Find your Center: In Sanskrit, the term sukha translates to the sweet spot associated with a being in your center. This term is often referred to as the axle on a wheel. If you find yourself thrown off by the energy around you then take a moment in Sukhasana by sitting down cross-legged and take several deep breaths. Find stillness and return to your center.
2. Drink Water and Electrolytes: If you are not used to living a mile high, you might be experiencing a reaction to the altitude. Plus, practicing 6 hours each day and playing in the hot sun are a recipe for dehydration. Be sure to replenish with water and electrolytes throughout the day and rest in the shade as needed.
3. Pace yourself: New to the yoga festival experience? You may have never done this much yoga in a weekend. You want to get the most out of your experience, right? It can be tempting to do every chaturanga to downward dog. Don’t. Tame your ego and befriend child’s pose. Rest often and receive the many varied gifts of this festival. Remember, yoga is not just a physical practice. Round out your experience by attending one of the morning meditations, daily kirtans, or inspired talks in the community tent.
4. Invite Equanimity: Equanimity is defined as the capacity to develop “patience through seeing the bigger picture” and the ability to “stand in the middle of all this.” Equanimity is sometimes inaccurately thought of as an attitude cultivated only by distance and detachment. However, we will never learn to surf the waves of change by watching them from the shore. To live fully requires that we get wet, stand in our uncomfortable edges, fall, maybe even fail, be willing to try again…and sometimes catch a wave. Allow yourself to try something new. Go ahead, get upside down! You’ll never know what you might discover.
5. Practice being Vulnerable: Practicing yoga at a festival, you might feel self-conscious or struggle with a desire to conceal your true self. Looking around, you might see the latest yoga fashion trends. It is easy to get caught in the very same traps you sought to escape when you started a yoga practice: a need to be seen as perfect, skinny, shiny, or strong. Invite yourself to be real and be willing to let go of the mask that hides your authentic presence. Remember, we come to Hanuman Festival to practice together in community. Can we seize this day as an opportunity to be real? Nobody is immune to hardship or loss. Everyone has a story. Each story has a place. You are not alone.

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