Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 4: Bhakti Fest West 2014

It’s the final day at Bhakti Fest, and all the things I’ve learned from the many masters throughout the weekend had opportunities to be practiced: kindness, appreciation, and listening to subtle energy all made an appearance. I almost felt giddy, smiling, laughing, and hugging so many people. What they say is true: Love transcends and the bhav is palpable. It changes you.

Sri Kirtan started my day. A dynamic kirtan duo with decades of musical and spiritual dedication was the perfect soundtrack for me to see all the lovely faces and identify more friends than when I came.

As the stage set up for Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda, the Bhakti Puppets, voiced by Adam Rudder, Kiyoshi Shelton, and Gary Peterson, entertained the crowd. I love them for their light-hearted humor prompting us to always keep that attitude in our hearts. Later, Kiyoshi (puppet-free) rocked the EarthWE stage with his conscious Hip Hop style powered by beats from Dru Ali of Mental Physix. His music is as uplifting and spiritually driven as traditional kirtan. The messages are the same although the delivery is different.

While backstage, Ashley Wynn, bhakti Goddess of Las Vegas, gave me a little on-camera tour of all the favorite products provided for the musical artists including KIND Healthy Snacks, Food Should Taste Good, Go Raw, La Croix, Mamma Chia, Pukka Tea, Sambazon, Tumeric Alive, and more. Her personal favorites were the Nib Mor.

Ashley followed Kiyoshi on stage to shower us with her original songs from her new album, Love is the Answer - Jai Ma. Ashley is beautiful. There is a quality in her voice that you know is rooted in truth, so you believe her when she sings.

In my eyes, Tymi Howard is the ultimate example of acknowledging one’s embodiment of Shakti - she is powerful, she is joyful, she is full of kindness.  What was meant to be a five minute interview turned into an hour and a half conversation that took us from discussing dogs and three yoga studios in Florida to love for family and how to properly “bounce the booty.” If you are looking to practice devotion through powerful asana, see Tymi.

I enjoyed samples of HealthForce Nutritionals, a 20 year-old raw and vegan superfood company specializing in cleansing and detoxifying, and continued cookin’ in the bhakti while Jivatma shared storytelling and music through what they called their version of a pop song, Release and Let Go. The song facilitated the act of throwing what we don’t need into the fire, adding more light and continuing to do so even after we leave Joshua Tree.

Girish’s voice is soothing to us all for many different reasons. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have their own story of connecting to his music. Mine is that he is the first conscious music album I ever bought. Listening to his tender serenade from the Main Stage brought me back to when I first started teaching yoga 11 years ago in New York City. I’m glad he’s been with me on that journey.

There are staples at Bhakti Fest that one should never miss. Seeing them every festival builds on their teachings which makes each experience more enlightened than the last. A few of my Bhakti Fest loves (besides what I’ve already mentioned) are Felicia Tomasko’s mindful and cooling yin, Govind Das and Radha’s primal dynamic sound and deep devotion, and Michael Brian Baker tapping into our deep souls through breathwork that goes beyond words. Of course, there is Krishna Das. Probably the world’s best known kirtan artist, full of wisdom, sharing his light humor, and awakening deep devotional vibes with his unique sound. I always stay on my game during the festival with a nightly warm cup of Herbal Zap, and I take something home with me to remember my weekend from my friend Susan at Yoga Styles. All of these and more nestle themselves perfectly in the sweet spots of the festival.

The weekend wonderfully culminated in the always energetic All Star Jam where devotees and artists alike pack the stage and dance in celebration. It’s a nice change to let out joy right when our hearts are feeling the weight of leaving this sacred place. 

Via Skype, our beloved Ram Dass received the Spiritual Humanitarian Award. Seeing his face shines the light of love straight out of your heart. This man’s smile is the highest representation of kindness. To learn from Ram Dass through the comfort of conversation, a series of interviews have been published between Ram Dass and Bhakti Fest founder Sridhar Silberfein. There are many gems you can find in Bhakti Fest's Conversations with Ram Dass.

As I mentioned, the biggest concepts I’ve taken away from the weekend are kindness and appreciation as expressions of love. I’d like to thank Shakina from Shakina Goddess Wear for offering me a pair of the beautiful sandals she sells after I misplaced mine post-desert dancing. The whole meaning behind this festival was summed up by her offering.

I’ve attended and documented my experiences of these festivals alone and with a friend. These friends have been my extra eyes and ears to point out little pieces of beauty I may have missed and served as a confidant to contemplate concepts and intentions that came up during the journey.

If I am to take on the practice of appreciation as being one of the highest expressions of love, as Radhanath Swami says, I’d like to start with my deep appreciation of these friends who have been by my side: The sweet spirit of Noelle Portland who helped me at Shakti Fest and experienced my first pilgrimage as the Bhakti Fest Blogger. 

For this festival, Melissa Brooke was by my side. She helped me see and hear things this weekend in a different way. She is an admirable writer and yoga teacher who takes the practice very seriously but with a sense of humor. Because of our Bhakti Fest journey, we have become better friends. Here is what she says about the workshop that was her personal game-changer: “I experienced a transformation throughout the class and felt deeply moved. Ed Harrold of My Zen Home's facilitation and work is acutely rooted in direct knowledge of the body's anatomy as it relates to the flow of the breath. He has a powerful passion to share his understandings and apply them to each distinct person in the room.” Melissa and I both felt contentment and ease as the day's activities started to wind down. 

My appreciation continues for all those who put up the festival from the actual posts, platforms, and sound systems to those attending meetings, sending emails, and going to great lengths to get as many gifted and conscious artists, teachers, and Swamis in the same place at the same time.

Thank you, Bhakti Fest. I left differently than when I came. With setting my intention to follow the flow, I realized I was here for different reasons than I had assumed. It’s when our hearts and minds are open that we can be pleasantly surprised by life; Bhakti Fest reminds me of this.

See you next year. Haribol!

Olivia Kvitne is serving as Bhakti Fest’s blogger and social media Goddess for all three festivals this year. She is Assistant Editor for LA Yoga Magazine and specializes in teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans/military and first responders in addition to teaching hatha, yin, hot yoga and more. Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 3: Bhakti Fest West 2014

It’s day three at Joshua Tree, and we are all fully immersed in the bhav. Everyone’s energies are vibrating similarly, and any baggage we may have brought with us has been released as we continue to become fully present. The intention I set on Thursday has now manifested and is fully coming into bloom. Everywhere I found myself today was followed by a clear message of validation that that was exactly where I was meant to be.

The Gandharvas, a trio of musicians and bhakti yogis, created wonderful morning melodic chants on the Main Stage after the morning meditation music with Sharanam Anandama. They blend energetic beats with minor chords and gentle chants of “Govinda Gopala” that strike the heart and splendidly set up the energy for the day. Arjun Baba followed continuing the impeccable line up for Saturday’s artists.

I treated myself to peruse the vendor village, taking time beyond just looking at the gorgeous and unique merchandise to actually engage in conversation with the owners and representatives in the booths. Serendipitously, I was drawn to the people with which I had the most in common. Ed Harrold from My Zen Home also came to teach the power of pranayama in the Breathwork Hall. He and I spoke in My Zen Home’s vendor booth about how control of the breath has life-changing abilities to calm the mind and nervous system. This is exactly what I teach for my trauma-sensitive yoga classes for veterans and first responders. This reciprocal passion for healing the nervous system through yogic practices planted the seed to what I’m sure will be a wonderful friendship and catalyst for mutual learning and growth in our respective fields.

While listening to Sudama blend chants with sweet messages for the modern age, Christy Wandrei of Bali Malas and I discovered that we share a string of mutual friends. I fawned over the fair-trade rudraksha seed malas and bracelets as we laughed in amazement over each new connection we identified. You can find her next to the EarthWe stage, and be sure to pick up your very own free Bali Street Children Bracelet with rudraksha beads.

Celeste from Jai Mala Rose might have the most incredible story of following Divine calling with open abandon. When an injured hip forced her to take pause from an active lifestyle and sit only with herself in contemplation, her true calling was birthed: creating rose mala beads while in spiritual practice. Her beads are cherished by all including the beloved Amma who has personally blessed the necklaces you will find on her table. Stop by her booth across from the water shrine and ask her to expand on her story.

As I left the vendor village, I picked up a copy of Radhanath Swami’s book, The Journey Home, a ten dollar donation that goes directly toward his many charitable projects. I continued on to class with Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb. I never miss them at any festival as they embody the purest light of bhakti. Their class is a sacred offering combining their Deep Yoga asana, mantra, pranayama, chanting, affirmations, and storytelling. Bhava’s stories will give you a brand new perspective on the power and capability of these ancient traditions. As a fascinating memoir, his book Warrior Pose will keep you excitedly turning the pages, yet also serve to inspire and lead to uncovering of your own inner warrior.

If I were in a position to leave my way of life as I know it and follow a guru in true devotion of honest and ancient teachings, it would be to learn from Mark Whitwell. For ten years I have taken his classes, and every time I sit on the mat I learn something new. His message is simple: the power of the cosmos is rising as pure intelligence, beauty, and function in each and every one of us - we are already there, we are already Love. He takes us through the bread and butter of the practice: intentional breath which the asana is simply there to serve. Through his humble discourse he is able to hand the power back to his students in order to realize that the guru is YOU simply by showing love and compassion for another person. 

The sunset and rising moon in Joshua Tree are reminders that the desert is a sacred place. I am always surprised, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, that right at dusk the open desert looks like a painting, a renowned work of art, and this festival exists to simply praise the artist’s name. This was the back drop as the musical line-up, like no other in the world, continued into the night on the Main Stage. Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, and DJ Drez have all been my favorites for years, and I know I am not alone in that sentiment. To have them follow one right after the other is best described by Shiva Baum, “I’ve landed in bhakti heaven in the midst of a kirtan superbowl.” I couldn’t agree more, my friend.

Yogi P Bhakti brought it all the way home to Sunday's final 4AM Aquarian Sadhana. Drink it in; this is how we fill our spiritual wells to keep the magic in our hearts as long as possible.

Olivia Kvitne is serving as Bhakti Fest’s blogger and social media Goddess for all three festivals this year. She is Assistant Editor for LA Yoga Magazine and specializes in teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans/military and first responders in addition to teaching hatha, yin, hot yoga and more. Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 2: Bhakti Fest West 2014

Bhakti Fest can be a 24-hour experience if you choose it to be. Thursday night’s Main Stage jam with Kirtaniyas brought us into Friday morning, and Aquarian Sadhana followed right behind at the amrit vela time of 4AM, two and a half hours before sunrise. For those needing a few extra hours of sleep, 7AM guided meditation with LP Burin, 7:30AM yoga with Tim Miller, Kia Miller, or Hannah Muse and 8AM chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa are all wonderful ways to start the day and also practice your Sadhana. 

For me, 10AM was the perfect time to get back in the groove and Saul David Raye on the Main Stage was the perfect vehicle to take me there. Saul’s energy is grounded and warm and even as the heat of the desert came on strong early in the day, Saul stayed cool with his sweet chants and calm nature. 

Saul went from stage to studio for his yoga class but Brenda McMorrow kept the music going with her unique way of encompassing devotional music with a folk sound. Brenda’s rich background in many styles of music creates familiarity along with the power of her sound. Backstage she offered me her CD, Igniting the Beauty, which was recently reviewed by LA Yoga Magazine

Staying discipline in my “go where the energy takes me” theme for the weekend, I retreated to the canopy of trees lining the pathway next Yoga Halls 1 and 2 (with hidden cooling misters) to feel out what energetically made sense for my next experience. A plethora of choices were available including sound healing with Gabriel Bran, kirtan with Prema Hara, and words of wisdom from Mas Vidal. I let the right class find me, and along the way I picked up a few samples of Desert Essence lotion and SPF I found at the First Aid tent, filled up my water at the Aloha water shrine, grabbed a $2 kombucha at Reed’s tent at the food court and after stopping to have a conversation with a good friend, I found myself with Mas Vidal. His workshop “How to Live” offered wonderful nuggets of wisdom right when I needed them. What landed for me the most was his explanation of our physical environment helping with pranic awareness, which is what makes opportunities like Bhakti Fest a wonderful enhancement for meditation and raising of vibrations. Mas also offered topics on Ayurveda and other ways of enhancing day to day living including yoga, Shakti and Bhakti in Healing, and relationship with food, reminding us that the basis of all these traditions is to slow down and synchronize your rhythm with nature, which eloquently mirrored my weekend’s intention.

Walking by Yoga Hall 2 I stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed the conviction in which Raghunath taught his yoga class. He offered solid and strong postures to create space for breath, noting that for so many of us living amidst the smells and sounds in big cities, breathing can not always be enjoyable. Although my yoga mat may not have been rolled out, I still took the time to take a deep, conscious breath inspired by Ragunath’s class, Flight School. The more open I am to the weekend, the more of these little gifts of inspiration serendipitously fall in my lap.

Mas Vidal’s discussion on the importance of group energy perfectly segued into Shiva Rea’s Prana Vinyasa Flow class. As a packed room followed Jim Beckwith in the sound of Om, Shiva Rea led us to feel the mover behind the movement and the “sweet peace of coming home” that she equated with returning to child’s pose as well as the comfort of returning to Bhakti Fest.

It was Sean Johnson who made the biggest impression on me of the day. His manner of offering bhakti practice was new and exciting. Gathering together close to him at the front of the stage as children do, he told us the story of Parvati, Shiva, and Ganesh using music and humor to so accurately and creatively paint a picture. He explained that these stories in bhakti are meant to awaken the journey in our own lives. From there, as he began adding asana, it felt like coming to the mat for the first time and with child-like joy. Yoga practice became about discovery rather than habit.

WIth a cup of vegan and non-GMO Coconut Bliss ice cream, I settled in for Deva Premal and Miten with Monose for evening kirtan. Their voices brought me back to when I was practicing their 21-day online meditation journey. I felt comforted by this memory as well as the soft tones of Manose’s flute in harmony with the rhythm of the cool night wind. I appreciated the Sanskrit words spelled out phonetically on the big screens in order to follow along and have a deeper appreciation of the tones and vowels that go in to those sacred words.

Before Amritakripa and ecstatic dance with Kambiz bring us back around the clock to another full 24 hours of bhakti celebration, Salif Keïta makes his debut at his first yoga festival. He translates messages of peace through world music bringing rock and jazz to West African griot traditions. He has received musical, political, and humanitarian acknowledgments and he was here with us tonight polishing our hearts under the desert moon.

Olivia Kvitne is serving as Bhakti Fest’s blogger and social media Goddess for all three festivals this year. She is Assistant Editor for LA Yoga Magazine and specializes in teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans/military and first responders in addition to teaching hatha, yin, hot yoga and more. Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 1: Bhakti Fest West 2014

Last spring, we danced in devotion to the Divine Feminine at Shakti Fest. This summer, the collective consciousness gathered in the heartland for Bhakti Fest Midwest. As we enter those auspicious days on the cusp of fall, we come to the grandaddy of them all - that four day bad mamma jamma celebration of devotional love. Welcome to Bhakti Fest West 2014.

This year takes the festival to a whole new level, welcoming some first-time artists, such as Matisyahu and Salif Keïta, whose devotional music breaks the mold of continuous traditional kirtan we are used to seeing on the Main Stage. This adds to our practice of embracing universal bhav in its many forms.

The first morning in Joshua Tree eased us into the weekend with low key vibes at the Main Stage from Avasa & Matthew Love as “hari bolo” was chanted in the distance.  The constant and gentle sounds of harmoniums hung in the trees like wind chimes. The morning sun and heat were kind and cool, creating a perfect balance with the music as if the mixture of sounds were river currents you were simply surrendering to.

Shiva Baum, our emcee and a staple in the Bhakti community, welcomed everyone to the opening day of the festival. He lovingly introduced me to stage, and I announced the giveaway contest happening all weekend from My Zen Home. Their meditation cushions are available to enjoy in the Breathwork Hall, and every day they are giving away one of those cushions. To win, fill out a raffle ticket at their vendor booth by the Main Stage. A winner will be announced every evening.  I tried to scurry off stage, but Shiva Baum kept me there and asked me what my advice would be for first-time festival goers. There is nothing like being put on the spot to let truth and intuition speak freely.

My advice was this: stay open to where the weekend takes you. Make plans, make conscious choices so you see all your favorite teachers and artists, but allow the wind to take you in new directions. Be open to plans changing and experiences shifting with the wind, naturally leading you to teachers and artists you may have not experienced before. Surprised by my answer, I decided to take my own advice as my intention for the weekend: Let go and let it flow.

As my day unfolded, it took the direction of spiritual teachings for practical application rather than asana practice, which was originally on my schedule. I found myself seated in a circle on a cushion from My Zen Home in the Breathwork Hall listening to simple Shamanism at the most practical level from Renee Baribeau. She offered tools to help navigate the human experience through yoga, as well as off the mat, so as to not be thrown off course spiritually when life doesn’t go as planned. In essence, she gave us the power to be our own Shamanic healers.

By this time it was already the height of the afternoon and nourishment and rejuvenation were needed. Where to find both (and in a chill atmosphere) is the EarthWE stage and lounge. While I sipped on the most perfect homemade chai tea from Chai Pilgrimage, One Love offered musical inspiration to support a necessary re-charge. The EarthWE lounge is a great place to people watch, reflect on the day, and remain open to where the wind will take you next. My favorite little person I spotted was a baby fully in the bhav, wearing only a mala and diapers, resting his head on dad’s belly as they let the chanting wash over them.

Before heading off to my next workshop, I enjoyed a few kombucha samples from the Health-Ade Kombucha retro camper with DJ Taz (he will DJ for yoga classes and with DJ Drez throughout the weekend) and got a quick interview with one of the founders of Health-Ade Kombucha, Daina Trout. Samples will be available all weekend of their “old fashioned” kombucha, made the way nature intended. (Lemon Ginger was my personal favorite!)

Evening set in as I settled comfortably on the floor of the Sanctuary, awaiting the stories to be shared by Radhanath Swami. Having never been to his workshop before, I was told that I must take the next opportunity possible to experience him, but no one could ever put words to what that experience was.

I sat workshop-ready, with a straight spine and eyes bright in order to intellectually drink in information. Yet, in the theme of my “go with the flow of vibrations,” I instinctively lied  down allowing his chanting to be a vehicle for his wisdom to enter my consciousness. The quality of his voice and the way he chants brought a calm to any residual chaos I had left in my system from traveling. I could instantly understand the love and devotion behind each Sanskrit word and the depth of each Deity’s story.

He spoke to us about appreciation as an expression of Divine love. His stories brought the complexity of life back to simple principals. The space between his thoughts felt just as profound and full of meaning as the thoughts themselves. 

It was beautifully cool by evening as Matisyahu entered the stage with simple humility. He sat on a stool and began a soulful sound that penetrated any ego or preconception just as conscious music should. He is captivating by the truth he brings to his delivery of lines such as, “You’re running away, but you can’t run from yourself.” He began chanting the word “surrender,” and it confirmed my intention for the weekend. I closed my eyes and silently thanked him for including me in his message, as he includes us all, because his messages are about humanity. From soft tones to beat boxing rhythms, you understand him, you “get it.” Subconsciously or with full awareness, you just “get it,” and you don’t want that communion with him to end.

It was a full day for me already, but I couldn’t head to sleep without seeing my man, MC Yogi, take the stage and bridge the gap between ancient messages and modern day communication through music. Now imagine the epic-ness of MC Yogi, Matisyahu, and DJ Drez on stage together.  As a big fan of bringing spiritual teachings to logistically possible practices for this day and age, all three men’s music and personal pilgrimage has been an inspiration for me in my practice of bhakti. Yogis held their hands high and pulsed to the beat of a new twist in his popular song “Be the Change,” engaging in a modern day call-and-response as they sang back “just like Gandhi.” Seeing him energetically light up the desert sky with his heart-expanding set, gave me that second thrilling wind of anticipation for the rest of the weekend.

Day one and the bhav is full steam ahead.

Olivia Kvitne is serving as Bhakti Fest’s blogger and social media Goddess for all three festivals this year. She is Assistant Editor for LA Yoga Magazine and specializes in teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans/military and first responders in addition to teaching hatha, yin, hot yoga and more. Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday at Bhakti Fest Midwest 2014

Walking outside on the final day of Bhakti Fest Midwest, I found the morning to be clear, cool, and bright.  The stillness that occurred the night before after deep-rooted devotional chanting with Krishna Das, clearly carried over through the night, as this morning was very tranquil with a power that held a subtle benevolence.

Feeling vibrationally hungover myself, there was nothing like ‘hair of the dog’ mantra practice to wake up dormant energy that may have remained after slumber.  It was a perfect time to go chant to Hanuman.  The Hanuman Chalisa is a 40-verse devotional hymn, written by Hindu poet, Tulsidas, and honors Hanuman who embodies devotion, service, and faith. We were led by Nina Rao, assistant to Krishna Das, who first started learning chants as a young girl from her grandfather in south India.

With the sweet smells of freshly applied essential oils and morning hot coffee filling the workshop room from my fellow devotees, Nina soon ushered us into the Chalisa by simply saying, “Shall we just sing?” and we were off together warming up our voices and hearts with “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.” I chanted a few rounds, but then placed myself in the back of the room for self-led asana and meditation among the community vibrations, letting the mantras wash over me. I could have stayed there all day, but there was still much to absorb and look forward to including returning to the main stage and announcing more amazing artists set to perform.

It was my absolute pleasure to introduce Saul David Raye, although this man needs no introduction. He is certainly a transformational teacher and a Bhakti Fest favorite, but what I enjoy most about Saul, is his kindness as we spoke, and the smile he gave me whenever we passed each other on the festival grounds. Those are the kinds of moments I’m taking home with me.

Watching him on stage I came to recognize another layer of manifesting my weekend’s intention of finding inner power. ‘Inner power’ does not have to mean loud, forceful, or overbearing. In fact, it can be found in restraint and ease, doing simple practices with humble intention.

That in mind I discovered key elements for sustainability and reducing the noise of chaos while attending any event, such as a festival, that has a lot offered to your system in a concentrated amount of time.  You must keep up hydration and nutrients, regulate your immune system, and practice self-care.

For hydration and nutrients my go-to drink is ALOHA Green Powder, a dried green juice filled with potent nutrients. With samples available all weekend at the registration desk, I would grab one for my water bottle whenever I passed by.

Herbal Zap has given my immune system a good swift kick in the butt to get back in action on multiple occasions. It is a hot beverage that works from Ayurvedic principles to boost your own capability of self-healing and resiliency. Being around hundreds of yogis who love to hug, share food, and chant as close together as possible, Herbal Zap is always in my back pocket.

My experience of body work today was probably the most profound I’ve had out of any previous festival, and a real essential gift to practicing self-care.

I was given acupuncture for the very first time at the vendor village with Shane Berquist of Sage Legacy Acupuncture and Healing Medicine in Minneapolis. With it being my first time getting this treatment, Shane was sweet, considerate and attentive to any concern I may have had. He was able to identify imbalances I carried by studying my tongue and feeling my pulse. It was an amazing sensation to feel the energy released from the point of contact with needle down into each part of my body. Then, as a human pin cushion, I laid and relaxed while Rich Logan played live just a few feet away.

Pair that with a massage I received later that evening from Francine Brown, who co-runs the healing sanctuary, and I had everything I needed to rest well tonight after a wonderfully exhausting weekend. Again, being just a few feet from the stage as I received the massage, this time as Govind Das and Radha “gave it to us” Bhakti style, I could tell Francine was using the energy from the stage to guide the rhythm of her work.

I planned strategically a double-dose of Saul David Raye, first hearing him on-stage and now attending his yoga class at night. Saul carries a spiritual message and emotional connection to his work while keeping it all very simple and pure. In fact he even says that simple poses done with breath are more healing than executing a fancy pose without awareness.

His message is tender yet thorough, “The taste of Bhakti is sweet. As Bhaktas, we just want to strengthen love.” It was sometime in between deep navel breathing and dancing and singing our prayers for the safety and freedom of all beings, that I realized what that subtle inner power I had discovered really is. It is prana. Prana is what I had felt during my morning walk to the Hanuman Chalisa and it was the flow of prana we had been cultivating all weekend. I planted the intention for the weekend, it manifested, and I allowed the result to surface. Turns out, the result is simple, I had been looking for prana all along.

My final time to emcee on stage was introducing David Newman aka Durga Das, a well-known and loved chant artist throughout the bhakti yoga community. In addition to his CD’s available at White Swan Records, he will also be headed into the recording studio this summer with members of Paul Simon’s band.

Gearing up for the evening’s All Star Jam, I took one last look through the vendor village, taking more time to have conversations with the owners of some amazing products and hearing their stories that led to their businesses. I found new products I love like Arize Artisan Kombucha, a small-batch artisanal brewing company in Chicago. They provided a lounge to enjoy everything from cold-pressed coffee with raw cashew cream, to ‘Kombucha Shrubs’, draft kombucha mixed with fresh fruit and herbs.

Of course, I had to stop by for a hug from some favorite vendors that have since become festival friends. Brook, owner of Bhakti Chai, has an amazing story of looking to re-discover her adventures in India by creating the beloved chai recipe she had experienced in the north. What resulted is a company that not only has an amazing product that is fair trade, organic, and delicious, but also supports global sustainability incorporating conscious practices into business. They are based out of Boulder, CO which must be filled with this type of consciousness, because it is also the home of our seva partner, Give Back Yoga Foundation.

Finally, I stopped to buy a tank top from my friend Paula at Playful Buddha Designs. We share an interest in not taking our yoga practice or life too seriously, and her products reflect that with sassy and fun phrases to bring a smile to the most austere yogi.

The All Star Jam is where it all really comes together. It’s not just the artists you have seen up on stage throughout the weekend, it also includes all the hands that make the Bhakti Fest dream come true. Instead of being ‘at work’, Bhakti Fest staff also takes the stage singing, dancing and bathing in the bhav. As Amy Dewhurst, the festival’s Consulting Producer says, “Bhav is the new black.”

Being only one person, I don’t get to see and attend every single class and event in the three days we have together. I was looking forward especially to Missy Balsam’s class who combines joyful vinyasa with her original devotional chants. I’ll have to go visit her in Naples, Florida, or wait until next year at Bhakti Fest Midwest 2015, June 26 - 28. Tickets go on sale in October. Even though I missed Radhanath Swami’s workshop here in Wisconsin, he will be first on my list at Bhakti Fest West September 4 - 7.

Until then, I will hold on to my newly discovered inner power (prana) using it to practice devotion in the simplest of ways, maybe even by just showing kindness to a stranger. The wonderful thing about cultivating this energy, is it doesn’t have to leave you once the festival is over; prana quietly stays with you.

See you in September. Haribol!

Olivia Kvitne is serving as Bhakti Fest’s blogger and social media Goddess for all three festivals this year. She is Assistant Editor for LA Yoga Magazine and specializes in teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans/military and first responders in addition to teaching hatha, yin, hot yoga and more. Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga