Leave it up to a yoga festival just outside of NYC to bring the culture. Ahimsa Festival which happened this past weekend at Hunter Mountain, NY - just 2 hours north of the city - featured Jai Uttal, Donna De Lory, Aya + Tyler, Yoga DJ workshops with Taz Rashid and even photo classes with Robert Sturman!
The weekend started off with a musical Satsang gathering Friday evening, a meet and greet for everyone involved. The schedule was nicely balanced starting Saturday AM with so many great classes, from a slow-flowing Qi Gong class with Steve Cosimano to a Master Flow Class with Faith Hunter, new this year to Ahimsa.
Every class was accompanied by some form of inspirational music - from classic Talking Heads records in Mary Dana Abbott's class (and may I say this lady's got an awesome sense of humor and lightness) to ethereal singing and drumbeats originally recorded by Aya's (of Aya + Tyler) mother as we did moving meditation and bodywork on each-other to bring about a sense of one-ness and bliss. By Saturday lunch, I felt like I'd had a day at the spa.
Other highlights included Annabir Singh's Kundalini Yoga class aimed at opening the heart and clearing past relationship blocks. As we set our intentions that morning and imagined our radiant hearts, the sun poked out from behind Hunter Mountain and warmed the whole room. The feeling was surreal and some tears were shed. With his non-serious attitude to Yoga that I find to be a signature of NY teachers, even those who were new to Kundalini seemingly broke down barriers.
Across the board, each class combined various mind-body practices such as the creative arts and music, meditation, Daoist philosophy and practice, and, of course, Yoga. After all, as Mary Dana, Director of Laughing Lotus NY, put it, 'it doesn't matter whether you can stand on one leg or not, it's all about having fun and good intentions.' So true.
All in all, it was a beautiful weekend against the stunning fall backdrop of Hunter, providing a great sampling of all that NYC and upstate has to offer.
For more information on Ahimsa and to get details on their next festival, please visit http://www.ahimsayogafestival.com .
Photo: Courtney Aldor
Post written for SFYogaMag.com