Into the Heart ~ Visual and Poetic remembrance of Bhakti Fest 2011.

Via Ryan Nadlonek
on Oct 27, 2011
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Here I am

in Joshua Tree, the dessert, one of the power spots of California. And it’s thunder-storming, lightning-storming, pouring rain…in the dessert. So so powerful, so so beautiful, these big clouds over these big mountains. Awe-inspiring, this combination of events. Awe-inspiring the way life moves. Just remembering, sharing the love within our hearts, sharing this gratitude to God, this love for Radha-Krishna, this love for Shiva-Shakti, this love for life itself. And just sharing that with myself, sharing that with the earth, sharing that with my beloved, sharing that with life…and everybody. So great to be in this community with yogis, spiritual seekers, crazy-God-people. Life is an amazing, precious gift.

Thank you. Thank you.

The author in the bhav.


Anusara-teacher Darren Rhodes was telling us that BKS Iyengar is one of our generations’ greatest Bhakti yogis – he is so devoted to the asanas. Looking at the asanas in Light On Yoga changes Darren’s consciousness. He led us in a practice holding each asana for 30 seconds, allowing the pose to change our consciousness.

Scott Blossom, a Shadow Yoga instructor and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, told us that aggressive stretching is bad. “You might as well be doing something useful like construction work, because you are trashing your body anyway.” Refocusing on our energy bodies, he instructed us to exhale into backbends to activate Uddiyana Bandha and fill the “bowl” of our belly, the prana center in our adbomen by activing the bandhas and breathing deeply into our lower dantien. The practice was very slow and simple, but it took so much of my focus and concentration to work with my body in such a subtle way. I was quite tired when I dropped into savasana.

DJ Drez and a live-music-infused outdoor yoga practice.


Anjula Saraswati Prasad. This kirtan singer from New York swooned the festival-goers with classical swara intonation (traditional Indian singing style) and proper sanskrit pronunciation. Her delicate voice blossomed through the sound system, ending her sundown set with a 45-minute mala (108 repetitions) of the Gayatri Mantra (an ancient healing prayer in the Hindu tradition), sung in a hauntingly beautiful melody. The clear, proper pronunciation of the mantras really brings the power of the practice to the listener and the classical singing style moves the energy through the subtle pathways in the spine. Purely divine. The long mala of the Gayatri solidified the intention of this set to be more than just a performance of beautiful music, but a healing practice to purify the space, honor the creative energies, bring us inside our hearts, and pray to our souls in gratitude. She puts great effort in each syllable. Western kirtan singers should take notice, study sanskrit, and keep the true power of this healing tradition intact.

The real show of the festival was the Mayapuris. These guys and gals are masters at their craft, using traditional styles, dances, and instruments, but with so much youthful energy! I can’t quite describe the excitement they incited. Everyone was screaming the Maha Mantra with their hands raised in the air while jumping up and down. The performers were running around the stage most of the show with the exception of a few slower moments. A classical dance piece in the middle of their set brought the audience to a standstill. The band grew up in ashrams across the planet, including Venezuela, Sweden, and America. Kirtan was the first music they heard.




Mayapuris blissful kirtan.

“If you want to do the most intense yoga with the best teachers in the country along with the full-tilt boogie kirtan, this is the only event that has that. I’m a yoga teacher and I haven’t even taken a class yet because I’m so enamored with the kirtan.”
-Bonnie Harter, Pennsylvania

“Bhakti Fest, to me, represents the merging of all the yoga schools. Forget the philosophy, prove it by example, and let’s compare notes later.”
-Madhava Ananda, Haiku Hawaii

“A very unusual situation, Bhakti Fest. These practices, do they give us anything? No. They uncover our true nature. From repeated the names of God, everything is brought to completion. ”
-Krishna Das

Jai Uttal and friends get ecstatic.



Master Duncan Wong, galactic yoga love star warrior.




Sacred Spaces.


Sure, Bhakti Fest is ridiculously fun, but its more that that. Connection. Community. Praise. Celebration of the creative force, of God. The result is immense healing for every cell in the body. The cells are tingling, chanting blissfully, emanating love and loving connection to each other.

So much of the healing comes from being here together, outside our normal circumstances in our material lives, and just walking by each other, looking into each others’ eyes and sharing smiles, sharing hugs. These kirtan musicians inviting us to sing together and these great yoga teachers reminding us to do these things…share smiles, hugs, and sing the names of God together. It’s the most important thing we can do, remember LOVE!

Together, we are syncing-up with this love vibration, everyone feeling it and sharing it, uplifting each other to the next level of blessedness, thankfulness.

“Sometimes we don’t feel connected, and in these times, it’s our responsibility to reach out for that connection.”
-Shiva Rea

Fully feel grateful, fully surrender to love. Allow yourself to smile, fully. To really, deeply enjoy being you, right now. Don’t hold back, don’t be embarrassed, just go for it and show it. Give yourself permission. Full Bhakti! Don’t be afraid to look like a fool, because the real fool is the one who is afraid to find this. And once you find it, please share it, because the world needs more smiles, more hugs, more singing, and more love!

And don’t stop chanting the holy names! Chanting the holy names reminds us of God, reminds us of where our hearts should be, where our minds should be, what we have, what we’ve been given, how we need to serve in this life. Chanting the holy names! Whatever the holy name is to you, just chant that, just sing that, just remember that, project that love, that love for God. It sounds silly…oh it’s so simple! Just do it! Just chant, sing, the HOLY name! Remember love. Remember that nothing is impossible, remember that you are capable of everything. Remember that nothing needs to be a challenge. Just surrender into life, surrender into love, take everything in stride. Release your tensions, release your fears, and just know that everything is perfect, that everything is alright, that everything is going to be alright. Remember that everything is divine, that everything has come from divinity, and there’s nothing that needs to be done except to be in alignment with love, to allow love to be, and to be grateful. Just serve that love. And be open to giving and receiving love, no matter what form it is, no matter what form it’s taking in your life. Just remember that and don’t be afraid of what is happening, just allow it, just allow whatever is happening to happen.

Jai Radhe, Jai Radhe, Jai Shri Krishna Bolo Jai Radhe!




What is it to be “in the bhav”?


“To be open and receptive. To have compassion, to be joyful. To understand emotion.” ~ Amy, Las Vegas


“It means to swim in grace. And this is totally God’s gift. And though one can’t earn it, still do all you can for it. It’s worth it.” ~ Fantuzzi and Adriana, Hawaii and San Diego


“Oh I don’t Know.”, “Together with similar intention. To celebrate with everyone. Sharing”, “Ecstacy.” ~ Rex, Noni & Oliver, NY City


“To surrender to love and serve divine beauty. To be in bliss.” ~ Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda, Eugene, Oregon


“To be constantly guided towards what we love and love doing. There is nothing wrong with us. There is only our passion, so go with it.” ~ Arslan, Venice, California


“Being present with everything ordinary.” ~ Aimee, California


“Being in the center of the center of your heart.” ~ Sasha, Connecticut


“Content and curiously delighted with everything.” ~ Candra, California


About Ryan Nadlonek

Ryan combines his passion for the "yogic" sports (rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding), his love of musical exploration, and his dedication to a healthful lifestyle, living yoga in all aspects of his life. He is certified in Prana Flow Vinyasa Yoga by the amazing teacher Shiva Rea and draws from his studies in Qi Gong, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Buddhism, Bhakti Yoga, and Trance Dance to lead fun, creative and powerful classes with wild tantric explorations into the present moment. He teaches vinyasa classes at Divinitree Yoga and Art Studio in Santa Cruz, California ( Ryan also leads ecstatic kirtan and has been performing tabla and mridanga with kirtan leader Jacob Duran in the Santa Cruz kirtan community since 2009. He has worked as a journalist and photojournalist for Climbing Magazine, the Colorado Daily Photo, 808 Scene Zine, and the Elephant Journal.


6 Responses to “Into the Heart ~ Visual and Poetic remembrance of Bhakti Fest 2011.”

  1. Ryan this is so, so SO beautiful! Thank you for sharing your GORGEOUS photos and thoughts on Bhakti Fest—I especially loved the quotes/pics at the end. You totally captured it.

  2. Ryan says:

    Thanks Prajna! It was great playing with you at PCC, too. Thanks again! I look forward to seeing you perform more. 🙂

  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    What a beautiful article – so much power and love! Thank you for sharing the experience!

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  4. Eleanor says:

    Thank you Ryan. I loved your article! Beautiful and brave! I was feeling quite hopeless but your article has reminded me what life is all about. Why do all these festivals happen in America….can they do the next Bakti Festival in Wales please!!!! Much love, Elle xxx

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