Hanuman Festival Wrap Up

by Leslie don Ross 

“We meditate on the splendid divine power that awakens and brings light to us.
May that power inspire our inner vision” Gayatri Mantra

There are many vehicles yogis enlist to find inspiration and fresh perspectives. Some explore music, dance, breathwork, intense asna, sacred ceremonies, lectures, podcasts, or adrenaline stimulating activities. The Hanuman Festival proved to be the perfect stimulant and antidote for mind, body, and spirit, synchronistic with relevant and timely topics and of course self study.

The four day festival offered a balance of mindfully sequenced asana practices loaded with inspiring nuggets of wisdom, inspiring music, pranayama, heartfelt kirtan, retail therapy, and meaningful conversations in the main tent during the panel discussions. All of this and more happening in a sacred container, a comfortable environment for safe exploration set the stage for the exploring the conversation “Keeping it Real”. The teachers, activists, and musicians each encouraged in their unique voice the message that now is the time to peel back the layers of life, to look within, and to connect on a deeper, more authentic place with self and others. And to help us navigate our modern conditions and challenges we have the ancient wisdom and tools of Yoga including vichara- self exploration.

From the moment I arrived, a palpable sense of “realness” pervaded the festival amongst the fellow yogis. Eyes locking eyes, smiles meeting smiles, conversations with strangers, and friendly gestures in passing like seeing each other at a family reunion, but not remembering how the other was related or connected?

This years theme “Keeping it Real” was artfully woven into the variety of offerings from panel discussions, guided meditation, kirtan and asana classes. Gina Caputo in her upbeat class “We Could Be the Healing” enlisted all Yogis as Change Agents. Being a “Change Agent” is not easy and takes more than just showing up to a couple asana classes a week. Addressing the often uncomfortable churning that happens when we start to look at our stuff, as Yogis we are armed with tools to help us navigate the mountains and valleys of life. And all the vichara- the self inquiry, must start with ahimsa- avoiding violence towards self first. 

Sianna Sherman in her “Chakra of Compassion Class” reminded us that the cave we fear to enter is the same cave that has the keys we are seeking”. Driving home the point that what we resist persists, Sianna emphasized that what we put our energy into avoiding will continue to show its face until we confront it head on.

The Friday lunchtime panel discussion with Yogirishi Vishvketu, Laura Plumb , Wah!, and Sreedevi Bringi explored the landscape of the Guru | Student Relationship and the power of discernment -Viveka shakti. The conversation stressed accountability and clear seeing, and that the role of the teacher is to remove one’s blindness by removing the ego. The relationship of teacher – student should be symbiotic, where both the teacher supports the student’s inner strength and growth and the student supports the teacher’s Sadhana – their Dharma.

The variety of classroom environments from the open air tents with grass floors to the indoor gym allowed for both expansive and more internal experiences. The festival setting at the Boulder High School adjacent to the raging Boulder Creek, with the scenic backdrop of the Flatirons supported the festival’s mission of connection, exploration, education and community through this proximity with Nature. The Saturday Lunchtime Panel discussion “Yoga, Climate, & Earth Activism” with Saul David Raye, Natarja Kallio, Kat Tudor, and Philip Price continued the conversation of staying connected and tapping in rather than tuning out.

Saul David Raye, in both his offerings that I attended “Awakening Heart -Healing Yoga, Meditation + Music for Transforming times” and “Earth Prayer- Yoga and Earth Activism” stressed “what we focus on we empower.” Saul emphasized that yoga is always happening; it is who we are and not someplace we are going to. Yoga is about healing our unhealthy patterns, our ancestral karma, and our practice is so valuable to recondition our conditioned stress response that is depleting our resources.

Live music accompanying the asanas classes was such a gift. Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda accompanying Saul and the angelic voice of Radha during the “The Gift of Slowing Down- Lunar Flow, Yin & Restorative” class lead by Govind Das transported us into a state of deep relaxation, rejuvenation, and inner peace.

Saul’s words above and these “Stay connected to both earth and Sky. Do the work, Have Faith and have heart” leads us to next summer’s festival theme of moving beyond the ego and relating authentically with others from the heart. In 2020, the Hanuman Festival will celebrate its 10th year of service focused on leading from the Heart, the essence of Lord Hanuman. If this summer was any indication of what is in store for next year, it is sure to be even more incredible and inspiring event. Mark your calendars now for all four days to gift yourself the opportunity of experiencing the whole festival and all the unplanned gems and connections that arise out of being fully present and receptive to what unfolds. Hope to see you next summer on the mat.

Om Hari Om

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