When you meet Kristi Taylor you immediately connect with her enthusiasm, passion, and zest for connecting with others. Her style is eclectic and her teaching skills diverse with an exceptional understanding of body mechanics. You may recognize her from previous yoga festivals and we are excited that she will return with a variety of workshops throughout the weekend. Spoiler alert! She’s bringing her wellness business partner -- and music partner -- her husband Dr. Darren Taylor.
Kristi has worked with professional athletes for over 25 years, coaching gymnastics - with her own kids on the national team - and working side by side with her husband in their sports medicine health and wellness facility. Her education is in physiology and kinesiology, and, with her husband “Dr. T”, conducts teacher trainings, immersions and workshops and they teach applied anatomy, physiology and neurology all over the world.
Kristi is one of the world’s first certified teachers of Acro-Yoga, having been in the first group to certify instructors. She is a certified Thai massage therapist, E-RYT500, YACEP, 500-hour Certified Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, and has assisted Baron Baptiste for over 20 years. She also teaches restorative and therapeutic yoga, sound healing, meditation, breathwork, and essential oils. Festival-goers will have an opportunity to experience her diverse skills as a teacher this year in four different workshops: Handstand Festival, Hands of an Angel, the Art and Science of Assisting with co-teacher Dr. D, Acro-Yoga, and Thai Massage Bliss.
I first met Kristi Taylor in her handstand festival workshop. She was at the door welcoming everyone with a big smile and lots of sparkle. Literally. She had glittery, shimmer on her face and chest which was a signal to me that I was in for some fun – and I had the time of my life! I was not a “hand-stander” so I went into this a bit apprehensive. She assured me that even if I couldn’t do a handstand that she “wanted ME!” She promised with great enthusiasm and emphasized that her workshops are for everybody regardless of ability or inability or level of fear. “Turn fear into fun!” which is exactly what happened.
There were some who could and many who couldn’t, but wanted handstand to either be a part of their practice or simply reduce the fear of attempting this inversion. Kristi was able to teach to all levels and focused on giving us exercises to get there eventually if that’s where we wanted to go. Seriously, the fun was in the trying and the teamwork and connections that were made with people I didn’t know before I walked into her “playshop.” “If the description of the workshop brings up fear that you can’t do it, I want you! I know how to work with you.”
That goes for her Acro- Yoga workshop as well. She hopes you fall in love with the partner practice just as she did the very first time she tried it. You don’t have to have a partner to participate because you’ll meet others in the workshop. “I love that it’s an opportunity to know and connect with another soul. It’s magical in that it’s an opportunity to collaborate our energies, without any words. It’s powerful. It connects communities. People in these workshops will meet friends for life. People will experience powerful emotions.”
Another opportunity to connect powerfully is with Thai massage, a workshop that Kristi is known for worldwide. In this workshop people will learn how to give and receive this beautiful form of yoga massage which will incorporate aromatherapy and, again, no partner needed when signing up for this course. “They’ll get powerful tools to share with others and learn how to create an experience beyond relaxation—total bliss!”
Kristi will co-teach with her partner and husband Darren in their workshop Hands of an Angel: The art and science of assisting. This workshop will teach assisting with love, and concrete skills for safe, effective, and empowering hands-on assists. Dr. Darren Taylor is a certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner, and former pro hockey player. A yogi himself, “Dr. T” has treated and rehabilitated yoga practitioners and professional athletes for over 20 years. Together the Taylors own and operate Global Body Health, a clinic that specializes in sports injuries, healthy lifestyles, injury prevention, healing and yoga. They use many modalities to optimize healing and get people back to enjoying their active lifestyle.
For Kristi, it’s about creating a sense of oneness. “Yoga, meditation, breathwork, Acro-Yoga, Thai massage, they are powerful tools. All these things I teach are about creating oneness: Oneness with self, oneness with your faith, your spirit, oneness with this world. Our actions have global impact. What do you choose to do with your time? What I choose to do is create oneness and love and sharing and giving and receiving and know that we’re in this together. Everything that I do is creating oneness. Come, let’s be together. Do what you need to do on your mat to get more connected. This is how we change the world!”
Laughter, love, connection and collaboration with exuberance seem to be the common thread in everything Kristi teaches. She loves the concept of connecting on a deep level and facilitating that experience for the greatest good. Her philosophy and skill at building connections have served her in profound ways and recently have inspired a new professional credential to add to her list: Music. This collaboration includes Dr. T and musical guest at the 2017 DY&OF, Michael McGlone.
Michael McGlone is a close family friend of the couple. He is an avid yoga student and attended Kristi’s Acro-Yoga Playshop in New York City. They connected “on a deep level and now he is part of our family”. He recently taught Darren how to play the guitar. Michael has been a mentor to the Taylors on their musical journey, supporting them in their writing and collaborating on the music. Kristi is glowing in her description of Michael McGlone and can’t wait for festival attendees to experience his talent in a live performance. You may recognize him as an actor on TV and in film (he won critical acclaim at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival Best Film Award Winner, The Brothers McMullen) he is a singer, songwriter, actor, author of 6 novels, and a yogi in the Baron Baptiste Power Yoga style.
The Taylors began writing music and collaborated with Michael McGlone for their first song written in January of last year which is called, Thank You, Again; a song about being and living deeply rooted in gratitude, living a life of integrity and loving each other. The three have continued to collaborate on lyrics and music which Michael will perform at the festival.
It sounds like the music career is here to stay. “My husband and I have been married 20 years, and what brought us together was music and laughter. Now, 20 years later it’s still about music and laughter. Music will be a huge part of our future.” They are currently working on the screenplay for a movie inspired by the song they co- wrote, The Hammer, which is Darren’s inspiring life story.
“Do what you love, love what you do. Life is short and we don’t know how long we’re on this planet so I’m going to be really clear and do what lights me up, what brings me love and joy. We are blessed to do what we love. I love working with patients, I love teaching and empowering people and I love music so that will all continue. In all of my workshops there will be loads of fun, love, laughter and music. That just goes everywhere.”
To register for any of Kristi's workshops CLICK HERE. For the full event schedule CLICK HERE. You can read the full bio of Kristi Taylor, Dr. Darren Taylor, or Michael McGlone by CLICKING HERE. For more information about Kristi Taylor go to www.kristitayloryoga.com or go to the Taylor's business website at www.globalbodyhealth.com.
The Synergy of Intentions With the Healing Power of Music and Yin Create Magic!
“There is something really profound and magical with having live music and yoga, especially Yin Yoga,” explains Julia Theisen, co-founder of the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival, and workshop presenter. She, along with Dr. Elaina Burns, RYT 200 and chamber musician, will join professional forces as they present a Sunday morning workshop at the DY&OF. You won’t want to miss “Be As One” - a multi-sensory, bliss-inducing workshop combining live piano and Yin Yoga.
I recently participated in a session/performance with Julia and Elaina who masterfully coordinate sound and yoga. They have a chemistry that allows them to shape the practice and use music in a deeply healing way. “I’m able to respond to Julia’s cues while she’s teaching so I can increase or decrease my intensity. We play off each other’s energy,” Elaina explains. “We both have a heart-centered practice so that goes very well together and you experience that when we work together.”
Another part of their chemistry is the understanding of yoga and the healing aspects of intentions. Julia describes the work of Emoto as an example where beautiful crystals form when played classical music. As Julia explains, “that synergy of intending oneness and healing by the musician playing live music, the instructor leading a beautiful Yin practice, and the participants’ intentions during the workshop – It creates magic! We have the opportunity to facilitate a practice that is so moving – the healing power of that is amazing.”
See the video below to meet Julia and Elaina at the Grand River Center as they talk about their workshop “Be As One.” To register for this multi-sensory workshop of pure bliss and healing click HERE. To look at the entire festival schedule click HERE. Sign up today for the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival! You can check out the full bio of Julia and Elainahere.
"Yin Yoga is a possible counterweight to the efforts of Yang, a tool in the endeavor to find equilibrium.” - Joe Barnett
Joe Barnett is a highly regarded yoga teacher known for his ability to relate to his students and for his knowledge and focus on anatomical principles in practice. He is the primary teaching assistant of Paul Grilley, the founder of Yin Yoga, and has been teaching Yin and Yang forms of yoga around the globe for 17 years. Joe will join us as a workshop and all-day intensive presenter at the 2017 Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival.
During the weekend, you can join Joe in Yin workshops focusing on deep spine work, deep hip work and chakra/meridian meditation. His Friday intensive will focus on foundational principles for instructors in “Teaching Yin Yoga: 7 Windows of Communication” (5 CEUs). These are what Joe views as the "fundamental steps that every Yin instructor should lead with in each pose."
Joe describes Yin Yoga as a very simple practice with foundational steps: know the target area, settle in to the pose, come out of the pose which was held for a length of time, observe the effects of that pose, and move Chi into the spaces that were opened. (You can view his video interview outlining these steps on his website here.) Yin practice allows us to slowly relax muscles to allow deeper, dryer tissues to be safely and therapeutically stretched, stimulated and strengthened.
The rules, he says, are also simple, but more importantly they are functional and organic: listen to the body and find the posture according to the unique and natural contours of spine, pelvis and hips. Simple enough, but this can present challenges especially for the Yin Yoga teacher guiding students with unique body structures, injuries, and physical histories using minimal verbal queueing. Joe’s “7 Windows of Communication” intensive workshop will expand on the foundational steps and help Yin Yoga instructors understand the functional objectives of the poses, and the simplest most effective language to help guide each student into their optimal variation of the posture.
Joe is quick to point out that he is ultimately offering the teachings of his long-time mentor Paul Grilley, who, with Paul’s colleague Sara Powers, named the practice “Yin Yoga” to recognize it as a complement to Yang exercise forms. They did so to restore what they saw as an imbalance toward the Yang side of Yoga, exercise and lifestyles in general.
"Joe Barnett has been our friend and assistant for many years. He has two qualities that make him an excellent presenter: he knows the anatomical principles and he relates to people in a sympathetic manner. His presentations are unhurried, hands on demonstrations, this is the easiest way to absorb these ideas." -Paul and Suzee Grilley
I asked Joe his thoughts on the need to practice Yin with such and emphasis on the more powerful aspects of a yoga workout: “Since its origins, Yin Yoga was and is still meant to be only one piece of a well-rounded practice and way of life. Within the physical body, Yin Yoga offers a way to manipulate deep into the spine, hips and shoulders. Within the emotional and mental bodies, Yin Yoga offers a way to find ease and contentment. The Yang side of life at its best offers muscular strength, strong hearts and circulation, as well as noble ambitions to change oneself and society for the betterment of all. But without the complementary efforts to traction the joints, relax the nervous system and enjoy oneself and the worked as it is, even the noblest efforts of mind and body deteriorate. Whether it’s the balance of strength/flexibility or ambition/contentment, how the balance will manifest and how it will feel is the responsibility of each practitioner to explore and decide. Yin Yoga is a possible counterweight to the efforts of Yang, a tool in the endeavor to find equilibrium.”
Since the festival has expanded its name to include “Oneness”, I asked Joe for his thoughts on the concept of “Oneness” in his personal philosophy and the Yin Yoga philosophy: “Oneness is the greatest of goals in Yoga as I understand the practice. The Seer and the Seen, Consciousness and Energy, Yin and Yang, united…or rather, Realized. To achieve this ultimate realization, the Yogi digs deep to bring up the hidden cycles of desires and memories buried in one’s unconscious and obstructing Realization.
Yin Yoga’s potential usefulness at its highest functions is this: After stimulating (with gentle stretches and pressures) certain target areas, while at the same time working to become more and more quiet, the unconscious hindrances hidden in the targeted tissues come to the surface. Tantric and Taoist theories postulate that these Astral aspects of the human being are compartmentalized with the physical body. If the Yogi can bring the Astral obstacles into view, they can be removed. When the simple and concentrated efforts of relaxation and stillness in Yin Yoga are executed skillfully, mental attachments and unhealthy impulses are revealed, making the required internal work clear. At times, that work will require powerful and complex meditation techniques, or even assistance from friends, family or professionals. But often these troubling manifestations can be released with a gentle sigh or a quiet cry at the end of which a moment of deep connection may arise. The deeply soothing impact of just a moment in that oneness can last days, years, and possibly a lifetime.”
Beautiful thoughts, beautiful practice…we hope you join us at the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival and attend Joe Barnett’s Friday intensive and weekend workshops. This is a unique and wonderful opportunity to learn more about Yin Yoga from one of the premiere teachers of this style.
For registration information click HERE. To learn more about Joe check out his full bio here, or visit his website at www.joebarnettyoga.com. To see the full festival schedule click here.
Jeff Wright, Jai Ram, and Jim Earles: 2016 Dubuque Yoga Festival Meditation Vigil
Many years ago a yoga teacher explained that all I had to do to meditate was sit still, watch the breath, and let thoughts come and go without getting attached to them. “It’s that easy, and it’s that hard, but the rewards are well worth it.” What specific rewards? Why was it several years before I could form a meditation habit? It’s seems a simple practice but for many of us it feels more complicated. Fortunately, we have four seasoned meditators taking part in the 2017 Dubuque Yoga and Oneness Festival who have some information to share with all of us on the yoga/meditation journey.
Jeff Wright, Jai Ram, Jim Earles, and Molly Menster are area yoga instructors and meditators. Molly will facilitate a free sitting meditation on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7:30 – 8 am. These meditation sessions are a great way to begin your day with sangha (sacred community) and mindfulness. She will guide you through a practice that will help you focus your attention and intention, activating different regions of the brain.
Jeff, Jai Ram, and Jim will sit in stillness throughout the entire weekend. All festival participants are welcomed and encouraged to join them in their meditation vigil, even if for a few minutes, in the atrium that overlooks the Mississippi River.
This is an opportunity to deepen your experience and understanding of meditation by sitting together. Whether you have a long-standing practice or are a beginner, give yourself this gift of quiet. Take time to sit with others in stillness and oneness. I asked the four to give us some background about themselves, their meditation practice, how it might relate to their yoga practice, and any tips for beginners. Here are their insights…
Thoughts on Meditation
By Jeff Wright
I began my study and practice of meditation over 45 years ago. I began under the instruction of an excellent Indian teacher who brought a great deal of his tradition to this skill. Over the years, practicing 1-2 hours every day, I have come to see meditation as a something much simpler (though no less profound), indeed a very natural activity shared by all creatures with a nervous system; as natural as sleep, though truly about being quite awake .. calm, but very alert. I prefer not to call the activity “meditation” anymore; because that implies something we do with our thinking brains. I now think of what I do as “sitting in stillness.” Just that. Therefore, when I teach the practice I begin by making sure a student can sit actively erect and solidly balanced, comfortably without moving, for at least 20 minutes.
That is the hardest part, and often involves a lot of individualizing (as well as some physical yoga practice). Next come skills in settling the nerves (including the thinking brain) and that is best handled by cultivating smooth, complete breathing. Again, some of the instruction involves yoga techniques of releasing the diaphragm and various other tension patterns in the body. Finally, there is just practice. Just sitting, sitting, sitting … and sitting. Establishing a daily routine is important and also sitting often with others. That is why I have established three different weekly “stillness group” opportunities in the Tri-state area. They are free to attend and you can find out more about them at my website: www.wayofstillness.com.
I also encourage participants at the Dubuque Yoga Festival to sit with us for a bit. The big question for many will doubtless be, “Why in the world would I ever want to just sit like that? Totally boring, a waste of time, and mildly embarrassing!” My main answer is, no verbal explanation will suffice. Do the practice and it will be obvious. That said, I have personally found the following pay-offs: First, dignity. Strength, courage, unassailable resolve. Second, sanity. Being able to see things clearly and to act accordingly. And finally, most of all and most inexplicably, compassion. Appreciation, gratitude, and then the persistent impulse to help. Noble thoughts, for sure, but I know I have not had much success in thinking my way into those virtues. Just sit still, no other efforts of feeling or thinking (or not thinking) required, doggedly, and after a few weeks, you might be quite pleased by how you have changed.
An Evolving Perspective
By Jim Earles
16 years ago, I became a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, as set forth by Yogi Bhajan. This form of Yoga incorporates many practices that are useful for meditation--breathing techniques, mantra repetition (both out-loud and mentally), strategic focus of the eyes, body positioning (including mudra configurations for the hands) and visualization exercises. Of course, strengthening and developing the body through asanas (the yogic postural exercises) is also an important means to the end of facilitating meditation. In a chicken-and-the-egg sort of scenario, many Kundalini meditations strongly resemble asana work, as they require movement or physical exertion in tandem with other practices.
Kundalini Yoga is perhaps unusual in that it has very specific goals for meditation. Yogi Bhajan dictated entire manuals full of individual meditations, for purposes as diverse as: awakening and balancing the chakras, releasing harmful emotions, breaking addictions, improving the functionality of the internal organs, strengthening the nervous system and many other goals. Underlying all of these particular goals is the ultimate goal of contacting with and merging into the deep, abiding, pervasive stillness of the true Self. The yogis call this Sat-Chit-Ananda (Sanskrit words denoting pure Existence itself, pure Consciousness itself, and pure Bliss itself). To frame this in Christian terms (at the risk of confusing the two issues), this is the Gospel, the Good News, of Yoga! Our true Self is Sat-Chit-Ananda, and it is accessible through devoted practice of meditation.
In recent years, my own personal practice of meditation has remained grounded in the wide tradition of Yoga, but deviated significantly from what was set forth by Yogi Bhajan. Another yogi and friend of mine has convinced me that "meditation" isn't even a useful term! It might be better described as "mental concentration," as the entire process requires directing and focusing the mind, and each passing year sees the creation of new and diverse practices called "meditation." I encourage people to experiment with what works for them personally, but I don't put much stock in the emerging field of meditation technologies--meditation machines, mindfulness apps for your phone, brainwaves and binaural beats, etc. Meditation itself is perhaps the original "technology" of the human being, and it remains as the best technology, without any attempts at an upgrade.
by Jai Ram
Generally, my yoga practice consists of meditation with a personal mantra every day. I say my mantra both with mala beads and without every day. I also do a short puja (act of worship) practice to my Guru Neem Karoli Baba daily.
My weekday schedule is very busy so I do my Hatha practice on weekends. When I have a break from school, i also practice during the week. My Hatha Yoga practice consists of mantras, intentions, prayers, asanas, pranayama and mantra meditation; it takes about 90 minutes. I also practice Jnana Yoga daily by reading yoga scriptures. My Hatha Yoga practice is from one of the following styles or a mixture from all three: Dharma Mittra Yoga, Integral Yoga, or Vinyasa Krama Yoga. I am certified in each style; generally, I prefer Dharma Mittra Yoga to practice.
For beginners, I would say that an important practice is to Jnana Yoga, i.e.. yoga philosophy. Here we learn about meditation and that yoga is really about the mind. The most important practice, however, is to learn how to control the mind - especially when you are in difficult times. Hence, meditation or Dhyana Yoga is the most important practice for the beginner. Later after you have a good meditation practice, for the advanced yogi, Bhakti Yoga will be the most important yoga. You are not the mind or the body; find a place of refuge that is safe. This place, as my teacher Baba Ram Dass says, is the Spiritual Heart; identify with it and you are safe! But this, of course, requires another practice - the practice of Loving Awareness. Hence, reading philosophy is not enough.
Finally, most important, as the Bhagavad Gita tell us, is to learn how to die; we have to do it at some point, so we should learn to do it well. Let’s make this our best yoga practice. Om Shanti.
"Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day."
By Karen Kramer, Midwest Yoga & Oneness Festival Blogger
Indu Arora is an international Master Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist, an Ayurvedic healer, author of two books and Director of Yogsadhna. She has been teaching since the age of 19 when her Master/Yoga Guru gave her the name Yog Sadhna and directed her to open a school.
You will see Indu as a presenter at the 2018 Midwest Yoga and Oneness Festival in May. She will teach an intensive workshop, "Uttishtha- Rise together!!" and conduct sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
Thank you, Indu, for your genuine love of sharing what you've learned with other seekers on this yoga journey.
Q: What is your mission as a teacher?
A: My first purpose is to educate myself, to know myself, to work on myself. For only if I can take responsibility of my thoughts, actions and words can I have any capacity to be a teacher. My intention as a seeker on the same path as my fellow practitioners is to pass on this message to them. Don't run away from yourself. Don't run at all. Take one step at a time. After all, that is the realistic thing to do. Yoga is not a run, a chase, it is a state that we embody when we are ready. Nothing but you, nowhere but within, is where it all lies. Nothing has the greatest power to heal, but Self.
Q: You travel extensively and teach in many countries. Is the practice of yoga very different here in comparison? My thought is that we Westerners tend to focus more on asana.
A: No matter where you go in the world, the definition of Yoga is still samadhi. It still means union. It is still a state of mind-- of being free of it. Yoga is a work-in, it is never meant to be a work-out. You are right that in many parts of the world the work-out aspect has gained importance and priority and even has become the goal. However, there is no rush. We all start from where we are and we are guided to the next steps when we are ready. There is a certain readiness that comes from within. I would also like to add that just like we are picky about what we eat, for example that it to be organic, compatible and nourishing, we have to be careful with the teachers we choose.
Q: Do we need a guru?
A: A guide, a Guru, a teacher is a must in every field that one would like to master. When someone has taken the path, they can guide us where not to go and how smoothly one can reach a certain place. The most important work that a Guru does is to allow us to meet our inner Guru. Now, there is a difference in being simply independent and self-seekers and finding the inner light. When we are simply independent without a clear intention, without having worked on our emotions, our self-guided paths may lead to fake ego, unnecessary challenges and at times even leave us scattered. So an external Guru helps us to gather our scattered mind, breath and emotions. The external Guru helps us get in touch with our self, our inner light and our inner master, and also teaches us to listen to this inner guidance.
To find a Guru: Only when there is a deep yearning and a burning desire, one becomes a seeker and finds a true Master! Not from a poster or an advertisement. It is from one heart to the other heart. If you are ready so is the Master. From within the Guru arises. As pure as your desire! First, you need to seek in order to find. In order to seek we need to know what are we seeking and why we are seeking it, and know it with absolute clarity. Then Guru appears.
Q: When you spoke of your newest book Mudra: The Sacred Secret, you said that whatever we do, and whatever we do not do, we are practicing mudras. So it only makes sense to understand what it is that we are doing. If we learn what we are doing we could access so much more--That is the sacred secret! You will teach a session on mudra and the energetic and physiological response in us when hand gestures are performed. Is this a practical, everyday technique to well-being or is there more to that?
A: Yoga, in its ultimate stage, is nothing but a Mudra of mind, body, breath and emotion. Mind wise it is dhyana (meditation), body wise it is asana (firm, steady, meditative pose), breath wise it is pranayama (stilling of the turbulence of inhalation and exhalation) and emotions wise it is shanti (peace). Mudra is a practical, easy, approachable, therapeutic tool to achieve these above-mentioned states. It has been almost missing in the current Yoga practitioners’ community, trainings and programs. Once you learn it or start learning it, the eyes really open up to a different reality. You start watching yourself in a way you have not done before. I wish to offer practitioners a new pair of glasses to see their practice and the subject matter of Yoga.
Q: Is this the same for Pranayama--That we are always breathing so we might as well do it in a way that benefits us?
A: Yes and no. Pranayama is what happens when the body stills and relaxes. Pranayama is the expansion of prana. If by pranayama you mean techniques, then the answer is "no". It is not in the practice of alternating breath in nostrils or breathing through the mouth that pranayama is attained. It is when all these techniques remove the existing friction (vikruti and vikalpas) that one is naturally established in Pranayama. It is a consequence of the techniques and not the technique itself. Diluting or condensing everything into techniques is not the road map to Yoga. May we adopt the path of sadhana (daily spiritual practice) to understand the meaning of Yoga.
Some techniques can be used to bring about a specific therapeutic influence on the bodily doshas and mental gunas but application of those is not the goal of Yoga philosophy. Every step is practiced so that we may come closer to the Self and it peels off one more layer of illusion. At times the balance is not in creation but dissolution.
Q: You will teach a session on Yoga Nidra, another tool towards the path to union. Can you explain the benefits of Yoga Nidra, and some might also wonder how those benefits are different than those of regular practice of savasana at the end of yoga class?
A: Yoga Nidra is not Yogic sleep but rather yogic awakening. Yoga Nidra is an extremely powerful tool! Use it to replace negative tendencies and thoughts. Release habits and conditionings. Rewrite your story and use it to strengthen or know your Dharma! Shavasana is putting to rest the uneasiness of the body, mind and breath that were triggered with the practice, you may say it is like suturing the body after the surgery with the practice. Yoga Nidra on the other hands is like going deeper and opening ourselves to the core. Unveiling all that is veiled.
Most often people think of Yoga Nidra as rest, sleep and rejuvenation. Only sleep can substitute sleep. No medicine, relaxation, mantra, herb, oil or practice can do the job of sleep. Yoga Nidra can reduce the number of hours taken by the mind and body to be rejuvenated relaxed and refreshed. Yoga Nidra was not devised for combating sleep issues, however it can help a person to solve some of the issues that cause sleep problems. Why do you want to replace sleep at all? It is a blessing! Every single day it gives us the chance to forget all the pains, all the stories and brings the taste of freedom, the glimpse if at all of the lowest level of Samadhi. The outer and the inner both worlds dissolve and become one. The taste of nothingness is the nectar we drink every day to feel alive. Substitutions have led to supplements becoming food and electronics becoming relationships. Let us acknowledge that not everything can and should be substituted. Yoga Nidra is not a substitution for anything, it is introduction to our inner world or outer world howsoever you may wish to perceive it.
Q: Why are many of us resistant to “going inward” as we do in Yoga Nidra or forms of meditation?
A: Because we all need magic capsules, potions and formulas to become free from all physical, mental and emotion suffering. Who wants to change in order to become that? Change is hard, it requires courage, acknowledgement of our weakness, a shift in our attitude, a change in our lenses through which we see ourselves and others, and the ability to look into our own eyes with absolute readiness to see within. We are often taught about short cuts more than real paths. We are taught about the value of being fast, efficient, and multi- tasking instead of slow, steady and one step at a time. With such deep conditionings, it is difficult to question self and start a journey to re-vision. Change is inevitable, either we are changing for good or not, either we are moving towards growth or not. Once we know that, we can choose our paths with more “respons-ability” (responsibility) than resistance.
Q: Your Friday intensive will be “Practical Components of Ayurveda”. Can you give us a sneak-peek summary of what we will learn that day? Is it appropriate for all-levels?
A: Basic Ayurveda is for all and benefits everyone. It is one of the most important, practical tool that adds value, life and lightness to everyday life. The practical components of Ayurveda are tangible tools that can be used by everyone who seeks to bring balance and health to everyone’s life. Ayurveda is the wisdom of life itself. It is not just about food, herbs, massage and panchkarma. It is not a chase, a run, a fad. It is the need of the hour. It is bigger than any treatment. It lays down the principles of living and loving. It is through the study of Self and its relationship with the cosmic rhythms that we start to understand Ayurveda. Health is simply a starting point and not the goal itself. Through health we gain the potential to walk on the path of paurush-artha (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). Ayurveda leads the pathway to a meaningful life. What one will learn from this session will be how to introduce some practice in your daily routine (especially morning and before bed) to be healthy and to stay healthy. This is a session not to miss for practical application of the philosophy of Ayurveda and Yoga.
Q: The festival changed its name to include “Oneness," the Midwest Yoga and Oneness Festival. I would like to know your thoughts on the concept of oneness.
A: Oneness is beautiful because we all try to understand each other based on similarities and differences. When we see similarities, we feel connected. When we see differences, at times, we feel inspired, or, at times, we feel scared because we don’t understand these differences. When we speak in terms of Yoga, oneness is a different kind. When we add, one plus one, for example, it is an addition, it’s a form of union to become a new number, a completely new identity. But in yogic terms one plus one is equal to none. Which means there is no separation. It is about “dissolution” a complete fading of boundaries and everything becomes one, which means everything becomes none.
This is something I can relate to. For example, I come from India and travel and teach many different places. People ask me how things are different in India, or other comparisons. I focus on the commonalities not the differences. When I travel there may be differences; Different languages, different cultures. But if I peel off the different layers it is still the same human being that desires to connect to something genuine, to be loved, and feel love. That is the same everywhere.
Again, if we draw this into the aspect of yoga, no matter which tools we use, it draws us into the same state. The first step is connecting to yourself and then connecting to everything and everyone else by the noneness, not the state of oneness. So we have to see oneness in a different light.
Q: You will teach many of these tools during the festival. Any advice for people who come?
A: Bring your appetite. The various methods are different ways, different tools that need to be understood in a completely different light but it’s beautiful to see how it comes together, how one leads to another, one becomes the other. And it’s not that one tool is better than another, for example, that meditation is higher than asana or asana is better than kriya. Everything leads to the same state. We just need to understand it in a different light. So all we need is our readiness, our appetite, our sincerity and we learn. Maybe this prayer or affirmation may be helpful to seekers of yoga be it teachers or students, we all are ultimately students.
My practice is not one on the mat or off the mat
My practice is neither for few minutes or in the early morning hours
I free myself from the bonds of time and space
My practice is my whole life
From the first moment I became aware, to the last moment of awareness, it shall be
When life becomes clarity
Each moment becomes Dharana (completely focused in the present moment)
The being becomes Sadhaka (spiritually adept) and the journey becomes
Sadhana (a spiritual way of life)
Don’t miss the early bird registration period! Learn more about Indu Arora on her website at www.yogsadhna.com
by Karen Kramer, Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival Blogger
The longest night of the year approaches with the Winter Solstice on December 21st. This is the time of stillness as the sun comes to its lowest point in the sky and appears to stop. The Latin word solstice is derived from the words sol, meaning ‘sun’, and sistere, meaning ‘to stand’, ‘to stop’. This longer period of darkness provides the perfect time for reflection on the previous year and to lay the groundwork for what we hope to achieve or manifest in the year ahead as we anticipate the returning light.
Let’s each reflect on what our yoga practice means to us and the gifts we have been given this year by our mentors, teachers, students, and fellow class members. Let us be grateful for the connections we’ve made with others and ourselves in mind, body and spirit. Many of us have been led in vastly new areas as doors of awareness open and our practice expands to be a part of our life on and off the mat.
The festival committee is currently laying the groundwork for 2017 as we anticipate the announcements of our fabulously diverse and knowledgeable presenters. We anticipate the gradual lengthening of light and the light that will come in the form of learning from these various teachers, the energy and awakening that occurs when like-minded souls come together for greater good, and we reflect on the gifts of oneness that will be ours.
In this time of stillness and reflection, let’s hold this common intention for the festival gathering: That all of us will benefit from the gifts of oneness –these gifts we offer each other, that we create together. And, equally important, reflect on the contrast of what we will see versus what we won’t.
*Community and Connection vs. Isolation
*Acceptance of Self vs. Self-Doubt
*Understanding and Acceptance of Others vs. Exclusion
*Cooperation vs. Competition
*Love vs. Fear
We all belong! Let’s embrace who we are. Celebrate the freedom to be uniquely ourselves, and the freedom to explore and expand your practice, to discover and grow. The natural by-product of self- acceptance is acceptance of others…love and inclusion!
There is a style for everyone and great opportunity for growth by trying something new at this yoga and oneness celebration. Here is a chance to broaden our base of knowledge with confidence because we can’t get it wrong. We all learn from each other as we share this great energy of cooperation and collaboration.
“Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.” – Harriet Goldhor Lerner
Join the conversation by sharing your reflections in the comments. What are you grateful for in the past year and what do you anticipate in 2017? What are other gifts of oneness that we can celebrate together?
Welcome to the 2017 Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival! We are so excited to celebrate another festival filled with great presenters, awesome yoga, and connection with like-minded people. We are especially delighted about the evolution of this event to include the element of ONENESS…We Are One!
Scott and Julia Theisen are owners of Body & Soul Wellness Center and Salon Spa, founders of Heart-Centered Yoga Teacher Training & Personal Transformation in Dubuque, and are the visionaries and co-producers of the festival. It’s evident that their commitment to building safe and sacred community, celebrating diversity, and trusting divine inspiration has been their guiding force. As Julia points out, the festival began as a clear message that “just dropped in” in the early morning hours in the fall of 2014. She knew it was the right thing to do as several big names, like Sadie Nardini and Max Strom, seamlessly came on board as festival presenters.
Now, in this third year, the Theisens felt that divine guidance was asking them to “play a little bigger” as Scott described it, and “be a bigger source of light”. Recently, I had a chance to talk to them about the focus for the 2017 festival. The couple discussed the importance of “oneness” and how they were inspired to rename the event the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival.
What does the term “oneness” mean? How did it become a part of the yoga festival name?
Scott: “Our definition of oneness is the energy of love that connects everything and everyone. It lies within each of us and connects us to each other.”
Julia: “We have always had the very strong component of ‘sangha’ at the festival which means “safe, sacred community”. Sangha and oneness intersect completely. Sangha really is a deep expression of love. We knew that we would dedicate this year’s festival to the theme of “oneness” and felt guided that we needed to make it a very explicit part of the name.”
Scott: “This feels like more of a reflection of who we are and what we’re about. We have always been dedicated to personal transformation. Now the Dubuque Yoga & Oneness Festival incorporates personal growth beyond yoga. It empowers and welcomes in those people who are interested in the opportunity to experience powerful personal and spiritual growth and to raise consciousness. The yoga festival has always been about celebrating diversity and being inclusive no matter what the experience level, age, color, or size. Now, with this expanded view, we are drawing in those who never thought that a yoga festival was for them.”
Julia: “There are even yoga practitioners who don’t see themselves as one who could go to a yoga festival. It’s an eye-opener for people drawn into the experience to realize that this yoga festival truly is for everybody! Everyone belongs and it’s right for all yogis and everybody interested in personal transformation…and maybe the people who come for the personal growth will try a bit of yoga.”
How will we see “oneness” represented at the festival this year?
Julia: “It’s represented in who we ask to be a part of the event. It starts with the conversations that we have with them and everyone who will be involved in any way. Several of our yoga presenters will teach sessions built around the concept of oneness, and there will be at least one workshop per session regarding this theme. The concept and intention is in our website and it’s a part of all our information. Then everyone involved will naturally hold this vibration of love—sangha and oneness—so those who decide to come to the festival are tapping into that energy. With this great vibe there is an expansion of light. We will feel that at the festival and then we all take that back with us from the event. Really, nothing else needs to happen!”
Scott: “At the festival we will embrace and embody oneness and sangha through the sessions offered, the entertainment, and the opening and closing ritual. They all serve to elevate that energy. In some ways, it seems separation has taken center stage in our world right now. We can come together and celebrate our diversity as a community. We can celebrate our connection. All people belong and are welcome. Part of the draw is that you can come and be with like-minded people who are committed to oneness and living more compassionately and being more aware. We believe there is an awakening happening-- of realizing our oneness-- and this festival is an expression of that. “
Be a part of the awakening. Early bird registration begins January 11 through March 1, 2017. Like our website, join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates and announcements of presenters beginning December 26th. We are one!
Karen Kramer is a yoga instructor and festival blogger.
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