Yummy Bhakti Valentine’s Day Love: The Second Annual Denver Chant Fest Begins0
The second annual Denver Chant Fest kicked off at the Sherman Street Events Center on Valentine’s Day, and what better day than this to gather in celebration of love? We gather to chant and move and sweat together, and we “benefit from greater energy and vibrations” in community.
Denver Chant Fest Founder Dakini Ma Jaeger is a testament to love—of yoga, Kirtan, Denver Chant Fest and authentic transformation (have you seen her lately?). Dakini was a ballet dancer before she was sidelined with torn hamstrings at age 19. She started practicing yoga, and opened Stapleton’s Core Power Yoga in 2007. As Denver Chant Fest opens, Dakini thanks the 50+ people who make this Denver Chant Fest possible. She instructs the festival participants that this is the time to “practice our practice.” She tells us the weekend experience will be different for every single person, but we’ll have the experience together. Manoj and Jyothi Chalam take the stage for the invocation to Ganesha, officially opening the festival.
When California-based husband and wife teaching team Govin Das and Radha take the stage for the first yoga class, the room is full and expectant. Hundreds of beautiful souls are ready to open their hearts during this weekend of Bhakti Yoga.
Govin Das and Radha’s class is billed as “yummy yoga.” Turns out this is an understatement. Yummy? Absolutely! But this Yin-inspired slow flow, or “Yinyasa” class, is also mindful, nurturing, luxurious and absolutely loving.
Radha chants as Govin Das walks through the sea of mats, his dreads secured inside his striped stocking cap. Govin Das instructs participants to hug their mat neighbors. They grab hands and take arms up to the sky in the shape of a “Y,” symbolizing “yes”, and letting a higher transmission come through.
“All you have to do is fill and move out of your own way. . .”
Cat stretches become hip circles, like “riding the waves, turning in, turning out.” The ballroom’s beautifully scalloped ceiling reminds me of the wavelike motion of breath and spine.
“God lives within your own heart,” Govin Das reminds us, “the essence of Bhakti.” Participants move through slow and mindful Sun Salutations, the repetition “inducing trance,” an opportunity to be that much more present. Standing hip circles flow into figure eights to become dance, as we chant together “may all be happy, may all be free.” In Bhakti Yoga, every movement is a dance (don’t you want to join us in this dance?).
There’s partner yoga, too. “How do we love God?” Govin Das asks. “We practice loving each other. Bhakti is a matter of the heart.”
Palms to the heart, where it all starts. The movement becomes stillness . Govin Das reminds us that God lives right at the center of our hearts.
Govin Das and Radha perfectly frame the class, with hugs at the end just as in the beginning, before held hands are raised in the air in another big “yes” to what the weekend has to offer and to life.
We experience Bhakti through our connection—to our partners, our friends, our yoga and Kirtan community—extending it out . . .
“For Bhakti yogis, every day is Valentine’s Day.”