September 24, 2010

Run, Don’t Crawl to the Ojai Yoga Crib. ~ Lisa West

My Annual Shakti Shot.

When I decided to write about the Ojai Yoga Crib, I was so inspired. I wanted to share my love and excitement about this event with others. As I began to think about what to write, though, I started to realize that words can’t really describe what the Ojai Yoga Crib is to me and what makes it so special.

So I started to panic.

Then a little voice inside reminded me that I’m a yoga teacher — I spend a lot of time trying to use words to describe something wordless. A wise woman once told me, “We can’t ever ‘teach’ yoga, we can just teach techniques of yoga, and hopefully assist someone in experiencing Yoga.” This nugget of wisdom I attribute to my main teacher, your hostess for the Ojai Yoga Crib, Kira Ryder.

I can’t possibly talk about the big annual yoga gathering that takes place every October in Ojai, CA without telling you a little bit about the woman who birthed this event. The energy of “The Crib” (as we call it here in Ojai) and Kira are intimately intertwined. Kira, like most great yoga teachers, is an exceptionally devotional and knowledgeable teacher who really shows up to class (and I would say in her life) as an example of Yoga in action. She loves it, lives it, breathes it. But beyond being an outstanding teacher, she’s sort of like the super-smart-funny-kid who sits in the back of the class, and with perfect comedic timing says something that sets the whole class laughing. And because what she says is true, it really helps the concept stick — she makes the teachings unforgettable. Her teaching style, words, demos and actions all have a little mischievous smile behind them. It’s this playful, light and spunky quality that gives Kira and the Lulu Bandhas studio their unique charm.

The Ojai Yoga Crib carries that same playful undertone.  It’s an annual gathering of fabulous teachers and diverse yogis and yoginis, woven together by the Lulu Bandhas community. Over the years, there’s been a diverse selection of teachers, ranging from scholars to strong vinyasa teachers to restorative teachers to teachers for kids and everything in between.

But there is a commonality among the teachers that come to The Crib: they are devotional, extremely knowledgeable, they show up as an example of Yoga (sound familiar?). They all have a joie de vivre that mirrors Kira’s spirit. They bring a light-heartedness and a passion to yoga that can sometimes be missed, and each of the teachers is a true innovator in their craft. Every year I’m surprised by the new ideas and ways of practicing I walk away with after The Crib. It’s sort of like my annual shakti shot: just when the weather starts to cool off and I just want to curl up on the couch under a blanket with a book rather than get on my mat, along comes The Ojai Yoga Crib to remind me why I love this practice so much.

For the past 6 years, I’ve had the privilege of being part of the team that helps to host this magical event. The group that gathers to work each year is really like a family to me. I’ve made good yogi friends who I see exactly once a year — at this event. But it feels like we practice together every day. Work doesn’t feel like work. We simply gather together for a common cause, laugh and enjoy greeting all of the smiling yogis that walk through the door. It truly feels like we’ve become Yoga even before the first class.

This year, in addition to the 3-day main event, The Ojai Yoga Crib is offering all-day immersions with several of the teachers. We haven’t done that before, and we’re really looking forward to offering this opportunity to dive a little deeper into the wisdom of some of our favorite teachers. We’re also featuring morning meditations with Patricia Sullivan on Saturday and Sunday, a dharma talk with Erich Schiffman on Friday night and a kirtan with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band on Saturday night. This is the first year Patricia will be leading the meditations and I’m excited to see what she brings to the table (in addition to the sweet devotion she carries to everything).

The evening events are crowd pleasers and a lot of fun. Erich’s talk is always a favorite at The Crib, and he always has new nuggets of truth to share. And if you think that a kirtan is a pious sit-still event, you have obviously not heard Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band! A very wise man (George Clinton) once said, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” Sean, Gwendolyn and Alvin have taken those words to heart and bring a little soul to some amazing bhakti (devotional) music.

Sounds like Yoga to me!

The Ojai Yoga Crib takes place October 21-24. To find out more about The Crib, sign up or learn about the teachers that will be there this year, visit the website.

Here are photos from previous Cribs.  Photos courtesy of Timothy Teague.

Lisa West is a physical therapist, bodyworker and yoga teacher living in Ojai, CA.  A self-proclaimed “body geek,” she spends an inordinate amount of her time learning about the human mind, body and spirit.  In between she watches movies, reads, dances and plays.

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