Evolution and Revolution: Denver Chant Fest, Day 20
As a “seasoned yogi,” my first forays into Kirtan required trekking from Denver to Boulder for rare Jai Uttal appearances. Now, Kirtan is a regular offering at many local studios, and Denver Chant Fest brings us a sampling of the best of the best. Kirtan is more accessible, not only in its local availability, but also in its presentation. Kirtan artists/wallahs have emerged from every musical genre. We still chant the names of God, but we chant not only in the traditional Sanskrit but also in English. As we chanted along with Deepak and the Breath of Life Tribe, our chant of “Jai Ma” became Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” Kirtan has evolved into a celebration of universal spirituality, whether that looks like “Hare Krishna” for you, or “Hallelujah,” or the most simple and profound of all prayers: “thank you.” As we chanted today with Deepak and the Breath of Life Tribe, with Jai Uttal, with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band, and many others, we celebrate our diversity in religious backgrounds and come together in the love that is at the root of all of our paths. The evolution of Kirtan opens up our own evolution, and, chanting together, the evolution of the collective.
Our yoga practices, too, have been an evolution. We grow in our personal practices, and our collective practices have also changed. The Denver Chant Fest yoga teachers proved today that physically challenging practices and spiritually-oriented practices can be perfectly married. Pete Guinosso reminded us that sometimes the challenging situations we release are the ones that need the most love. Early in his class, Rusty Wells announced “the class is going to kick your butt.” But his “extreme power yoga” also included call and response chanting and the invitation to inspire the people in your life. Rusty offered a prayer to raise himself so that everyone in the room can be raised by the practice and then raise their community.
Our yoga is as much a revolution as it is an evolution. MC Yogi and Amanda Giacomini, one of the many husband and wife teams to teach and chant at this year’s Denver Chant Fest, titled their yoga class “Yoga Revolution Love is the Solution.” They asked us to “notice what the mind is turning toward—this will tell us what kind of revolution we’re involved in.” A yoga revolution is “inward turning of our mind to our own heart.” We practice as an “inner excavation,” to uncover the love, to experience the Bhakti, to have the tools we need for those challenging moments every life brings. Love is the solution, and we can choose to source our lives from this love. Yoga, as Amanda tells us, can be defined as “Your own greatness affirmed.” When you encounter a difficult moment today, can you come from a place of love? Have you affirmed your greatness today?” Isn’t it time to start your own Bhakti Yoga revolution?