SHAKTIFEST YOGA FESTIVAL
What is a Shaktifest yoga festival? Imagine a land of fairies and yogis. Goddesses and warriors. That is exactly what I found when I went to my first yoga festival. I was told by my yoga instructor to expect people to gaze deeply into my eyes and try to do acroyoga with me. What I didn’t realize was that there would be so many other ways to break out of the box and “fly.”.
If you have never been to one of these festivals, it is usually in a remote if not exotic location. This one was called ShaktFest which is the “sister” to Bhaktifest and was in Joshua Tree located in the Mojave Desert.
It was well attended but not overcrowded. There were vendors of all sorts, crystals, yoga clothes and mats, aromatherapy, hats, incense, glorious organic foods like gluten free crepes, salads, burritos, acai bowls, shakes, desserts, healthy tonics, Indian food, teas and best of all, vegan chocolates.
There were soothsayers, astrologists, life coaches, Gongsters, crystal “acupuncturists,” massage therapists, chiropractors and all other modes of body workers. Then there were the workshops and yoga classes and Kirtan music. Nearly every attendee had their personal yoga mat draped over their back and a reusable water bottle.
That is a yoga festival. I did not truly know what to expect, just that I felt drawn to go and promised myself that I would be open to whatever came my way. When you check in, they give you a wristband and a music festival-like pamphlet with all of the classes and workshops with bios of the teachers and facilitators which was perfect for me. Like a good little student, I would study it the night before and circle and star the ones we thought we would enjoy. The key is to not get too attached to it.
Each day we chose to begin with Hoolahooping. Yes, you heard me right. They had gigantic Hoolahoops handmade by a fabulous southern belle named Shellie “White Light.” She taught us to play and to not care if we did it right but that we did it at all. It was childlike fun for an hour.
The next class was Belly Dancing. This was taught by an ethereal beauty named Josie Keys. She was once a part of the establishment who woke up one day and realized there was more to life than 16 hour days in a patriarchal establishment. Her divine sensuality and complete love and acceptance of herself and for all women was inspiring. She taught us to slow down and really feel the movement and the energy of the Divine within us. To own being a woman in a society where roles have become blurred. To revel in the feminine. I had to let go of my what I call my masculine “tank” mode and flow.
I am of a certain age and for some us, just getting off the floor is a “win” but settling for average is not my style. So I wiggled and shimmied and undulated and popped. We were energetically high by the end of the class and I ran around telling everyone how beautiful they were and hugged them. It only took three hours on that first day and I was vibrating at a whole new level.
Then we found the Gongster. Her name was Lisa and she spent a couple of decades flying jets. I love that each of these healers had their own unique journey to arrive here. She did sound healings using huge gongs stationed on either end of a treatment table, triangles, chimes, and ocean drums. Each treatment was 20 minutes and if you were witnessing the healing it looked like a sound ballet. After my session, I was vibrating at such a high level and felt completely open and different. In fact, I left wearing her shoes (not mine), forgot to pay her and left my phone on the park bench. I corrected all of those things within minutes but it was so funny because I was literally out of body.
We attended Mark Whitwell’s yoga workshop, a world re-known yogi and author of “The Heart of Yoga” and “The Promise” on Friday, a sunset yoga class on Saturday with Brian Campbell and a cathartic yoga class/workshop on Sunday taught by a firecracker named “Hemalayaa.”
Having been opened up emotionally, spiritually and physically from all of the preceding events, we walked into Hemalayaa’s class ready for transformation. She was terribly chipper and had a Tony Robbins style headphone and energy about her. Positive and powerful. She created a safe space for us to stretch ourselves inside and out. She combined yoga asanas with suggestions ending in a “tantrum.” The act of clearing the energy in such a wild and abandoned way left us light and clear and shifted. Then we danced with abandon. That was our last event.
My travel buddy and I ended our weekend with sushi in the hotel and debriefed on our experiences. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have a friend who is so open to new experiences in a fearless and fabulous way. I highly recommend grabbing a friend and doing something that frightens you. Pushes you. Enlivens you. Fills you. Causes you to be more.