"Wait... what? How did THAt Happen?!"
Yoga students and teachers around the world recognize the importance and impact of studying with a renowned and esteemed teacher such as Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. He is the successor to Swami Rama, spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, and well-educated author of numerous books including his most recent Vishoka Meditation: The Yoga of Inner Radiance.
Hosting Pandit Rajmani Tigunait is one of the greatest honors to the festival organizers. His rare appearance here, outside of the Himalayan Institute, coincides with his initiative at the Himalayan Institute - the Year Long Meditation - and accumulating 1,000,008 meditation hours from participants worldwide. His presence reinvigorates the events dedication to awakening, living in oneness, and creating a compassionate world for all. Not surprisingly, though, it has a few of our heads spinning a bit, asking “how on earth did that happen?”
Credit to the two festival founders, Scott and Julia Theisen, owners of Body & Soul Wellness and Spa/Salon, and Inspire Café. The intention of the festival has always been to unite like-minded individuals, in yoga and other holistic modalities, in the spirit of oneness, to promote world peace, and raise awareness of unity-consciousness.
What an honor, what a blessing, and what a surprise that Panditji took them up on their request to speak at the 2019 5th Annual Midwest Yoga & Oneness Festival. How did it come about? Or, as Julia recently described it, how were they “bold enough to invite him?”
The pair had heard much about Pandit Rajmani Tigunait and his teachings. “There were points of connection with Panditji via his students who were having an impact in this area.” One of the points of connection is Jeff Masters, student of Panditji and co-teacher of the 300hr Yoga Teacher Training with the Theisen’s at Body & Soul. Masters is a presenter at the Midwest Yoga & Oneness Festival (’17,’18 and now ’19) and has also taught workshops at Body & Soul over the past several years.
Another connection is long-time student of Panditji and senior faculty member at HI, Luke Ketterhagen. Luke presented last year at the festival and taught a weekend workshop at Body & Soul. It was during this workshop that Julia read about the opportunity to attend Rudra Yaga: Ardha Kumbha Mela, a pilgrimage to India with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait through the Himalayan Institute offered in February 2019. “There was no question in my mind that I had to go," she said, "something was really pulling me.” After a chat with Ketterhagen, Scott decided to attend as well.
(Shari Friedrichsen, also of the Himalayan Institute and student of Panditji will teach at this year's festival and speak at the FREE "Inspiring People Series" at Inspire Cafe on Thursday evening, November 14th, before the festival - 7-8:30pm.)
The Theisens met Panditji at the HI campus in Allahabad during the Ardha Kumbha Mela. As Julia describes it, “It was said to be an auspicious time in terms of the timing of the event and the practices that we were there to undertake, and when I met him it was kind of mesmerizing because he carries so much light...This is a man that’s been practicing for more than 40 years, three to four hours a day, so being in the presence of unconditional love with such a teacher...It’s very palpable and he’s so approachable.”
Karen Kramer is a yoga instructor and festival blogger.