by Erin Mathiason
My words alone are inadequate to summarize the Denver Chant Fest. The photographs (posted here and on the Denver Chant Fest Facebook page) show the bliss, the community, the love and the bhav of the event in a way that “success,” “incredible” and “awesome” simply cannot reach. The photographs, along with the words of participants and presenters as posted on the Denver Chant Fest Facebook page, capture the feelings and the moments. Lyn Wheaton writes “…Best Fest I have been to so far (and I have been to many)…Feeling euphoric, what an experience!” Larkin Flora calls the event “mind blowing.” Kirtan wallah C.c. White shares “Ultimate Bliss, and a much needed ‘Sweet Kirtan Release’ at ‘Denver Chant Festival’. Such beautiful souls, full of love, opening their arms wide, shimmering and so ready to divinely give! Thanks Denver, Colorado, Thanks Dakini, Thanks to Everyone!”
You might think that after a late set with Jai Uttal and C.C. White on Saturday night that Chant Festers would be slow to get back to the venue on Sunday. The auditorium was to capacity, however, for the 8:00 a.m. class with favorite Denver and Boulder teachers Patrick Harrington, Tricia Heimbach, Mike Konrad, Shannon Paige and Livia Shapiro, with DJ Solomoon providing the grooves. Govindas and Radha followed with their “Kirtan Vinyasa Flow,” accompanied by Boulder’s own The Pushpams. Author, spiritual teacher and mystic Kamala Easton, PhD offered “Embodying the Goddess Kali” and drew in a substantial crowd for this last in the Wellness Class series. The bliss of final kirtan with Saul David Raye cannot adequately be described. I missed Raye’s post fest class “The Power of the Heart: Yoga and Bhakti Immersion” so I am excited that I’ll get to hear it on a “New World Kirtan” podcast, along with listening again to the Denver Chant Fest kirtans (Thank you Kitzie Stern!).
So now that Denver Chant Fest is over, how do we take it into our daily lives? I would encourage you to move this community forward by being a part of your yoga community. This goes beyond taking class. Participate in seva projects like fundraisers at your local yoga studio or Off the Mat Into the World (and there are more!). Attend Friday Night Yoga Club, Yoga Rocks the Park and the Hanuman festival. Support local kirtan. Many of the musicians on stage at Denver Chant Fest perform regularly in Denver and Boulder. Keep supporting the Denver Chant Fest vendors. Share your dreams and inspirations with the Denver Chant Fest community by posting them on the Denver Chant Fest Facebook page (or comment on this blog).Read More
by Erin Mathiason
Day two of Denver Chant Fest kicked off early with Saul David Raye’s heart-opening yoga and continued all the way into the evening with Jai Uttal’s always amazing kirtan. From ecstatic dance to shopping to a movie premier, yoga and kirtan were just the beginning of this bhakti-filled day!
A dad flies his happy baby over his head, her pink headphones matching her pink outfit, both enjoying the blissful chants of Govindas and Radha. Other Chant Festers brought their little ones to the Govindas and Radha kirtan, no doubt followed by Jai Uttal’s kids’ kirtan. Local favorites Scott and Shanti Medina and the Pushpams brought us another sweet kirtan in the afternoon.
The surprise of the day for me: Power Yoga icon Bryan Kest. My assumption of a physically demanding class was completely inaccurate. Instead, Kest spend the first hour relaying his message of yoga. Sometimes irreverent and often unorthodox, Kest’s message was no candy-coated sidestep but a take-responsibility-for-your-$%&# cosmic brick to the head. We can’t really be all about the love after all if we’re holding on tight to our baggage.
I’m including some of Bryan Kest’s wisdom here, in little bites:
- “How are you going to have the opportunity to not be judgmental if you don’t have a yoga teacher who swears and burps?”
- “The yoga world opens up when the mind becomes quiet.”
- “I didn’t come here to work out my control issues on you.”
- “The yoga is not movement. It’s the state of mind behind the movement.”
- “If any of you want to look at me, take one last look…tune out everything else and tune in to your experience.”
- “It’s all good if you’re gentle, it’s all harmful if you’re not.”
- “Yoga doesn’t want to change you because yoga doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with you.”
When Kest finished lecturing, just in case we wanted to go back into our safe assumptions of what a Power Yoga class “should” look like, we danced to Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” to warm-up. The abbreviated Power flow class ended with a seated gratitude meditation.
Check out my “Love letter to C.C. White” for more on day two Denver Chant Fest activities (and add your own comments about your favorites!)Read More
Moments of true connection often elude me. I buy into the illusion of ego that I am alone. Tonight, however, as I attend your kirtan, you remind me as we chant the names of the Divine that no separation exists, that we are all one. You reminded me that it in our humanness—with its jagged edges—that we fully express our divinity. Through you willingness to show up at the Denver Chant Fest in the wake of great loss, and I mean really, vulnerably, authentically show up, you remind me that we are here, as Dakini Ma said in her opening remarks, “to rise each other up.” You remind me that we are strongest when we are vulnerable, because it is in our most vulnerable times that we remember to reach out for support and community. We are here, at Denver Chant Fest and in this lifetime, to support one another and to love one another. You asked tonight for hugs and the opportunity to express love to each other. This blog is my expression of love. I send you light and love just as I know you send light and love to each and every one of us in the audience tonight (the buzz is palpable!). My heart is full in this moment, of gratitude for the gifts that you share and of the knowingness that I have been raised up.
- Erin MathiasonRead More
by Erin Mathiason
Erik Vienneau and Dakini Ma co-created Denver Chant Fest for peace, for healing and for light. Denver Chant Fest kicked off tonight and already exceeds my expectations with this inaugural event. I roll out my mat tonight with hundreds of other chant festers for a class with Janet Stone. Even before class began, I spot old friends, local yoga studio owners, the yoga teacher I took class with yesterday, and new friends to meet. I have not taken class with Janet Stone before, but my mat neighbor Kristina practiced with Janet Stone at last summer’s Wanderlust Festival. Shawndra, my neighbor behind me, heard about Denver Chant Fest from two of her CorePower teachers, both of whom, she told me, are up near the stage. Shawdra is attending Denver Chant Fest with her daughter Brittany. All three are new to kirtan and are excited for the experience.
Erik Vienneau and Dakini Ma offer opening remarks. “We are all here to help rise each other up,” Dakini reminded us. Manoj and Jyoti Chalam complete the opening ceremony with a beautiful Ganesha invocation to remove obstacles and move into the light.Read More