August 31, 2011

Govindas of Santa Monica’s Bhakti Yoga Shala speaks on upcoming Bhakti Fest 2011


Only a week or so until this year’s Bhakti Fest gathering! Here’s some words from the heart via Govindas, owner of the Bhakti Yoga Shala, a donation-based yoga center in Santa Monica, California.


Ele: What do you like about the Bhakti Fest experience?

Govindas: Bhakti Fest is an epic gathering of the highest vibration.  It is a festival of thousands of yogis and yoginis joining together in celebration and service of Love, and uplifting the energy of this planet. During these incredibly powerful times, and the shift of consciousness that is now taking place, really what could be more important?!!  For myself, I have a deep love for kirtan, devotional chanting.  At Bhakti Fest, the kirtan is continuous for 4 days straight, 24 hours a day. It reminds me of India where in many ashrams the kirtan is continuous not only for 24 hours a day, but as well 365 days a year.  It is like a flame that is never extinguised. As well I love seeing so many bright and smiling faces, reconnecting with old friends from different parts of the country and world, and making so many new friends too.  Really it is the purity of intention: Bhakti, Love, Devotion, Oneness, and immersing ourselves in that ocean… There is nothing sweeter!!!

How is Bhakti Fest beneficial for the American yoga community?

As the mystical traditions remind us, all paths lead to the Heart.  And Bhakti is the  yogic path of the Heart.  In American yoga, we have become fixated on the asanas, which potentially means we can lose sight of the bigger picture.  With so many bhaktas joining together at BF,  there are hints that collectively as a culture that we are starting to wake up, go deeper, and focus on Love and Spirt as our central intent for doing sadhana.  In the western world, especially in the big cities, we so commonly put a protective wall around our hearts.  We’re rushing around, moving so fast through life.  Yet with thousands of beings unified in the presence of love at BF, in the mystical desert of Joshua Tree – singing, dancing, and practicing devotional asana, the hardened heart  melts… and we can all begin to deeply feel and share the beauty and joy that lives within.  

What do you uniquely bring to Bhakti Fest?

My wife Radha and myself will be leading a set of kirtan on the main stage, all new chants that will be on our upcoming kirtan cd. As well we will be guiding a few of our “Kirtan Vinyasa” yoga rituals, and chanting during other teacher’s yoga classes too. It is a very busy festival for us. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. We absolutely love bhakti and sharing heart-based practices… This is the foundation of our yoga studio  in Santa Monica, CA, BHAKTI YOGA SHALA.  We are both here to serve, to be a beneficial energy to all beings and uplift the collective energy of the planet. This is a central aspect of our dharma, to serve and love.  

Kirtan Vinyasa is amazing! Please describe it…

Kirtan Vinyasa is a blissful mandala of kirtan, movement, asana, devotion, bhakti-philosophy, and prayer….  Yogis are guided through flowing vinyasa movements and kirtan(yogic chanting) at the SAME TIME!!! And defininitely with some interludes of high energy kirtan dance and devotion. This ritual is designed to compassionately open our bodies, voices, minds and hearts, and help each of us cultivate our own unique and loving relationship with the divine. At it’s origin, it was a totally organic manifestation that came through both Radha and myself’s love for 2 things, kirtan and vinyasa yoga, and how we could integrate them together at the same time.  It is the product of 6 or so years of exploration and just “playing around” with the fusion. What I love about it is that it really brings the bhakti into the asana. It is such a joyful and celebratory way of doing a yoga practice… As voices are weaving and bodies are moving it becomes a devotional artform and ritual that everyone in the space is collectively creating together.

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