July 15, 2009

Telluride Yoga Festival, via Kelsi Coia. Part Three of Three.

Photos: Kasey of Yogamates.com, on the way to Wanderlust, she just visited us in Boulder, we love her! Follow her journey to and through 50 yoga studios on her way to Wanderlust Festival here. Click here for Part One of Kelsi’s Telluride Yoga Fest. Click here for Part Two with Richard Freeman, Tias Little and Noah Mazé.

Telluride Yoga Fest: Part III.

by Kelsi Coia

Sunday: the Finale

“I did not come to collect students, but to train teachers” ~ Yogi Bhajan
We started our day off with Regina Zwilling’s class called “Open Your Hips, Ignite Your First Chakra.” We were both so excited for her class, especially after experiencing Noah Mazé’s hip opening class the day before. Regina teaches Forrest Yoga in Denver, Colorado. Neither of us have ever taken a Forrest Yoga class (I’ve been too scared to, I’ve heard stories about how intense they can be), so we decided to face our Forrest Fears and jump on in.

And wow, it was amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so deep into my hips before. Kourtni and I agree that Regina’s class was both the hardest class we’ve been to, and the most rewarding. On top of her thorough knowledge about each pose we went through, Regina cracked jokes and made us laugh the whole way through—which is so appreciated when you’re pushing your hamstrings and hips to the edge in a split. Kourtni and I felt so refreshed after her class (we were both feeling pretty schlumpy and sore from the previous day). For anyone who has thought about trying Forrest Yoga, but like me has been too scared to try, do your higher self a favor and go to a class with Regina. Your body will love you for it.

In between classes, we decided to check out the awesome vendors at the marketplace. Our first stop was Jai Dye, an eco-friendly yoga clothing company based out of Hollywood, Florida. Their clothes are super fun tie-dyed (hand dyed with environmentally friendly reactive dyes that are inert when mixed with water) organic pants and shirts. Their clothing is sewn locally in Florida and their fabrics are USA-made. Even their tags are made out of recycled paper. You can buy their stuff from their website or at festivals around the country, like the upcoming yoga/music extravaganza Wanderlust. If you’re in the market for new stretchy pants, for yoga or anything, we definitely recommend checking these guys out!

Another of our favorite vendors was Annie O. from Boulder, Colorado. She was selling fun hand-embroidered belts and bags from Peru. Most of her items are traditional pieces with a contemporary spin on them. The base fabrics, which are made out sheep’s wool, are sewn by a group of men, and then embroidered by a co-op of women who are paid fair wages for each item they sew. The belt buckles and bracelets are made from recycled bulls’ horns, which are also from Peru. Usually bulls’ horns are just thrown away, but Annie works with a Lima-based man who recycles them into all sorts of items.

(Note: we are most definitely not encouraging mindless consumerism here, buy only what you need. And when you do, buy from cool companies like these. Hurray for mindful shopping!)

After perusing the marketplace, we went to the closing ceremony. It began with a beautiful dance by Julia Horn, which was a combination of dancing and yoga postures (It was something like this). Julia’s lovely performance was followed by a speech by Manoj Chalam, yogi and scholar. Originally from India, Manoj spends most of his time these days presenting at workshops around the world. His Sunday talk was titled “Finding Peace (In A Chaotic World).” Yogis chant “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih” for peace in ourselves, peace for all beings, and peace for the environment, he said. Although the world is filled with chaos, it is important to live in peace, which cannot simply be strived for because as the Veda says: we cannot attain peace, because we are peace. He spoke to us about the story of the dancing Shiva, a statue of which accompanied him on stage. The dancing Shiva is a symbol of radical change in a world of chaos. There’s no way I can do the story (or Manoj’s performance) justice by recounting here, so I won’t try. For anyone who has not read or heard the story of the dancing Shiva, I really encourage you to read it or listen to it (especially you, fellow college graduates).

The closing ceremony concluded with a memorial slideshow of the life of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who passed away this May. The whole Yoga Festival was dedicated to his memory as well.

After the closing ceremony, Kourtni and I headed to our final class of the weekend. It was called “Sacred Activism” and was taught by Moses Jas Jeet Singh, creator of yoga website ILoveYoga.com. Moses also practices and teaches Kundalini Yoga, which neither Kourtni nor I have practiced before. I hang out with a gang of activists in Boulder, so I was excited to hear what Moses had to say. Although I don’t think he ever defined sacred activism, his lesson implied that it is activism for a higher purpose and for the benefit of others. Moses told us of his cousin, a young activist working with former child soldiers in Uganda. He said that sacred activism is connected to Kundalini Yoga, which has roots (at least in America) in reaching out and teaching others (Yogi Bhajan often says, “I did not come to collect students, but to train teachers”). After Moses’ brief talk we began our practice of Kundalini. What a way to end the weekend! I went through a whole spectrum of emotions in the practice—from white-hot anger (as I thought about how I couldn’t stand to hold my arms out any longer or do any more breath of fire) to feelings of over-the-top joy. At the end of class, and even now, I’m not quite sure how I feel about Kundalini Yoga. Part of me wants to do it again everyday and part of me wants to never think about it again; to say that I am conflicted about it is an understatement.

Yoga Fest was an amazing experience. Kourtni and I are both so grateful for the opportunity to cover the Fest for ele, and for the experience we had. It is a top-notch festival/conference in a beautiful setting. The teachers were all so wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable (with a splash of witty humor). It’s easy to understand why so many people can call them their teachers. The festival itself is run by an amazing group of people. All their hard work and thoughtfulness really comes across. From the excellent roster of teachers to the efforts to create a zero-waste environment (including free filtered water to fill up your own bottle with), it’s easy to see that a truly mindful group runs this festival.

It was an amazing experience! We will both see you in Telluride for next year’s Yoga Fest!!

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