February 18, 2012

Yoga Rocks the Butte. ~ Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe

It is moments like this—of heartfelt action, of listening to our inner guidance—that we are doing all of this for anyway.

“My roster is full and I’m already at my budget capacity, so I don’t really know what I’m doing,” she said slowly. “But I had a dream last night and woke up knowing I had to get you to come out here somehow and join Yoga Rocks the Butte.”

~ Monica Mesa

It is the kind of statement that intuitive and passionate, Monica Mesa—owner of Yoga for the Peaceful and founder of the Yoga Rocks the Butte conference—makes all the time. I had a wave of uncertainty—Where? What? How much? etc.—and then I stopped.

“I’m in,” I responded. “We’ll figure out the rest.”

I was not disappointed. Nor were the over 350 registrants who joined in. (350 in the remote town of Crested Butte, a festival in its inaugural year? Not bad, not bad at all…) The festival had its fail-proof blessing in Shiva Rea to whom Monica dedicated the gathering. Shiva has been a teacher to Monica and thousands of others around the world and somehow continues to show up with an effortless grace.

At the presenter’s dinner, I had a few moments to exchange pranams (bows) with Shiva. I seized the opportunity to acknowledge the gift she has been to the yoga community and to thank her for being the spark that ignited Monica to create the gathering.

“We blow on each other’s fires,” she said—looked at me—and winked.

I don’t get to see Shiva that often, but I had the honor of subbing all of her classes years ago when she was pregnant with her child. I was a “new-ish” teacher at the time. To be called to hold that sacred space at such a significant time of creation served as an initiation for me.

It is a connection that I continue to hold precious.

Needless to say, Shiva’s classes were oversold and her trance dance event was celebratory. Micheline Berry’s classes were also bursting with life, accompanied by Joey Lugassy and DJ Drez. Govindas and Radha never fail to teach by example—the example of unconditional love. Their classes and kirtan left people laughing and crying (for joy) at the same time.

Monica’s Lakshmi powers of manifestation, also attracted some of the best musical talent in the yoga community. On top of Joey, DJ Drez and Govindas and Radha having their own magical evening sets, Yoga Rocks the Butte was also blessed by Steve Gold (if you haven’t heard Stoned on Shiva, download it right now!) and a crescendo of Dave Stringer. I kept vowing to go to sleep after a long day of yoga, meditation and lectures, but I couldn’t tear myself away—it was too real, too soulful.

Like a magnet, it kept pulling me in.

Lastly, it just wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give a quick nod to Matt Pszonak, who played music for just about everyone all day and night, asking for no reward other than to humbly be of service.

There were so many brilliant teachers who’s classes I was unable to take, so many lectures I missed, so much music I was unable to hear. I felt like a kid in a candy store who is only allowed one lollipop and a stick of chewing gum.

I’m grateful for what I got, but I wanted more!

The prize for MVP of the weekend, goes to ‘cape crusader’ Sarah Darval, teacher of yoga and Buddhism by day—master coordinator/ producer by night! Teaming up with Monica, Sarah effortlessly managed everyone’s needs and not once did I see her sweat. With a nod and a smile, the festival had the feeling of being organized, clean, smooth and yet totally authentic and sincere.

Monica, Sarah and Yoga Rocks the Butte, are living proof that we can strive for excellence and remain peaceful loving beings at the same time.

Monica also dedicated the festival to her Satguru (literally “True Teacher,” colloquially “Enlightened Master”), Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately called, Maharaj-ji. The incarnation of Hanuman, Maharaj-ji is known for his saying:

“Love everyone. Serve everyone. Remember God.” ~ Maharaj-ji

It is clear that this is the motto Yoga Rocks the Butte, lives by and invites all of us to do so as well. And in case that fails, we can all try to “blow on each other’s fires.”


Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe began teaching yoga in 1995 while receiving her BFA from New York University. She holds a Yoga Philosophy degree from Loyola Marymount University as well as their Yoga and Ecology degree completed in accordance with the Green Yoga Association. She has completed teacher trainings with Erich Schiffmann, Yoga Works and John Friend in the Anusara tradition.

Sara is the instructor for the “Yoga for Dummies” series, the “Crunch Yoga” series as well as the collaboration with Russell Simmons “Yoga Live,” altogether selling 4.3 million units worldwide. She is currently on Fit TV’s “All Star Workouts” and her self-produced “Yoga on the Edge” runs on Exercise TV. Sara has been a regular on Vh1’s “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab” and is featured as one of the “Titans of Yoga” in the new, critically-acclaimed documentary.

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