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The fourth annual Bhakti Fest,
set to take place in Joshua Tree
September 8-11, has a new spin
on its signature blend of yoga,
music and workshops: Ecology.
"It is important that we as
individuals, communities and
tribes honor our connection to
the earth as part of our spiritual
practice," says Sridhar Silberfein,
Founder and Director of the four-
day event, coined by attendees
to be a Spiritual Woodstock.
"There are many ways to ex-
plore our reverence to the natu-
ral world: choosing high-quality
food from sustainable sources,
admiring scenery on a hike, and
of course doing our part to re-
duce our footprint on the Earth.
But beyond these ethical guide-
lines and day-to-day activities
there is a spiritual connection
we can activate in our personal
sadhana. I wanted to explore
that as a piece of this year's
Bhakti Fest."
New to the festival this Sep-
tember is a Loyola Marymount-
accredited two-day workshop on
Yoga and Ecology. Registration is
open to everyone and credit will
be offered toward those in the
LMU Yoga Ecology program, a
five-certificate course of study.
Los Angeles-based yoga in-
structor Sara Ivanhoe kicks off
the program Wednesday, Sep-
tember 7 with a pre-fest Green
Yoga class, integrating asana
with a historical journey through
myth, the marriage of Vishnu and
Prithivi and the Buddha's quest
for enlightenment.
The second day of the work-
shop is scheduled post-festival,
on Monday, September 12. Fol-
lowing asana with Sara, Dr. Chris
Chapple and Dr. Laura Cornell,
Founder of the Green Yoga As-
sociation will lead workshops on
how to integrate yoga practice
with environmentally-responsi-
ble lifestyle choices. The Mon-
day workshop will also cover
elements of Vedic philosophy
known as the Earth Verses.
Bhakti Fest is the only festi-
val of its kind to celebrate the
specific path of Bhakti yoga -- a
practice centered around union
with the divine through chanting
sacred Sanskrit mantra. The fes-
tival features around-the-clock
kirtan performances by Krishna
Das, Donna DeLory, Jai Uttal,
Deva Premal & Miten, Wah!,
Shantala, and Dave Stringer
among others.
"Part of the fun in this festival
is the crowd," says Jeanie Kirk,
a Bay-area resident and regular
festival-goer. "The energy gets so
elevated with all of the singing
and dancing. The feeling of free-
dom after this kind of practice
really cultivates a sense of love
and gratitude for everyone and
everything... I walk away feel-
ing so much more conscious and
that carries into every aspect of
my life."
The festival's location near
Joshua Tree National Park is in-
deed the perfect setting to appre-
ciate nature. Tent camping and
cabin accommodations among
cacti at the Joshua Tree Retreat
Center invite a sense of awe and
reverence for the outdoors.
An all-star yoga lineup featur-
ing Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye,
Seane Corn, Bryan Kest, Mark
Whitwell, MC Yogi & Amanda is
scheduled to lead a diverse range
of classes, from trance dance to
bollywood to more traditional
vinyasa and hatha styles.
The festival is also known for
workshop and lecture content,
the depth and breadth of which
satisfies seasoned spiritual prac-
titioners and newcomers
alike. Dr. Manoj Chalam
is a regular presenter
whose topics cover Hin-
du and Buddhist myths,
symbols and ritual. Au-
thor and spiritual teacher
Ram Dass, is scheduled
to deliver a workshop
via DVD and Radhanath
Swami, author of the
book The Journey Home,
will appear as a featured
What Bhakti Fest brings
in conscious content is not lim-
ited to its programming. The
festival boasts one of the purest
collections of raw, vegan and
vegetarian food vendors in addi-
tion to many high-quality health
and wellness companies offering
up supplement samples.
With green food, green yoga
and a high-vibe lineup of con-
scious music, Bhakti Fest is an
event that invites us to align with
our highest selves.
For more information and Yoga
and Ecology workshop registration
for bhakti Fest, visit www.bhaktifest.
com. Four-day festival tickets can be
purchased online in advance for $300,
$450 at the door.
Shannon Skillern is a yogini, fash-
ion designer, marketing, events, and
creative services visionary serving the
conscious community in Los Angeles.
She can be reached at shannonskill
Bhakti Fest Celebrates Music,
Yoga and Ecology
by Shannon Skillern