A Krishna Das-Tim Miller retreat? Yes, please

I’m pulling something out of Tim Miller’s latest blog post — all about his time at Bhakti Fest this past weekend — that, I realize, probably shines too much light on it, but the idea is just too enticing not to mention: A Krishna Das & Tim Miller retreat.

Yeah, that sounds pretty dang awesome. Here’s how Tim mentions it:

After class I texted Krishna Das to see if he had time for a short visit before his sound check.  He said he could meet backstage at 5:30 and we had a few precious moments together, catching up on the latest with our families, our travels and, once again, talking about doing a retreat together someday.  Nina was in on this conversation, which means that something might actually happen.

You can put all the caveats on that you want. Perhaps you also can take my reaction to it as a nudge, I guess mainly to Nina — with whom I had a brief correspondence back when KD came through LA, so, Nina, don’t forget that! — for these two guys to get together and see what kind of magic they can make.

Maybe if enough of us are talking about it, it will encourage them to put something together. So… talk about it, people.

Here’s a little more of Tim’s reflections of Bhatki Fest:

My next class wasn’t until 5:30 pm so I had plenty of time in between for breakfast with my assistant Maria Zavala, a nap, a reiki treatment, and another nap before driving back to the festival to catch some afternoon kirtan.  I met my friend Uta at the main stage at 4 to see someone she highly recommended–Karnamrita Dasi, an American bhakti who has one of the most beautiful voices in the Vaishnava tradition.   When Karnamrita began to sing, the pure devotion pouring through her voice immediately touched a chord in my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  I could have listened to her for hours, but had to leave at five to go teach my class—An Introduction to Pranayama.  I figured that at this time of day it would be good for people to do something more sedentary and restorative.  Some of the students apparently hadn’t read the class description and, despite the brilliance of my presentation, several of them made early departures.  I was reminded of a recurring dream I have, where I am teaching at a big yoga conference and the students gradually walk out of the class until I am the only one left.

There’s plenty more that makes Bhakti Fest seem like a worthwhile use of a weekend. I recognize that suggests maybe we should have gone. There’s always next year.

Posted by Steve

Do your practice, every day, doesn’t apply just to Ashtanga

I know there was some consternation last week about Nancy Gilgoff’s defining an Ashtanga practitioner as someone who does the practice six days a week, every week, taking only Moon Days off.

It does sound a bit harsh, I guess, with not much room for failing to meet those proscribed definitions. (Elsewhere, I think, three days a week is the minimum “requirement” for an Ashtanga practice.)

Of course, I’d point out, Nancy also says practice doesn’t have to be in the morning (and the day off doesn’t have to be Saturday), so on some other fronts she might not meet some people’s Ashtanga yardstick.

More so, though, I think it is worth considering why there’s a focus on a continued, dedicated practice. And I turn to Krishna Das.

Here’s a link to a video of him at Yoga International (which I can’t get to embed). And here’s the accompanying text:

The one thing we have to do is some kind of practice every day. Even as little as 5 minutes of practice a day can be life changing over time. It opens our hearts and awareness from within, allowing us to let go of superficial things and rest more easily in ourselves. It’s the only way to know anything that really matters—the only way to get to shore as we find ourselves headed for the rapids. A teacher can point the way, but we have to do the practice.

Food for thought. And it sort of goes with David Garrigues’ thoughts on a teacher motivating students.

Posted by Steve

It’s 4 a.m., so why not the Hanuman Chalisa?

A little video preview for Krishna Das’ upcoming kirtan album, Kirtan Wallah. Available, you won’t be surprised to know, at his website.

A little about it: “This is a preview of the live version of track 5 “4AM Hanuman Chalisa” on Krishna Das’s April 2014 album release “Kirtan Wallah”. This live kirtan was filmed on New York City in October 2013. ”

Posted by Steve

Krishna Das announces release date for new album

We’ve covered Krishna Das pretty consistently, although we haven’t said much about his crowd-sourced new album, mainly because it was already well above its goal when we saw it — sort of suggesting it didn’t need the “Confluence bump.”

But now the new album, Kirtan Wallah, has a release date, so we’ll let you know. It’s coming April 15. Tax Day.

Hey. We just did tell you. It’ll be available both digitally and on CD. (Too bad no album release; albums sound better.)

Here’s a little description:

With the release of his 14th album, Kirtan Wallah-one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit of deeply devotional Indian chants. There are some traditional melodies that would be right at home in an Indian temple, his rich baritone voice and harmonium leading the chants. But at its heart, this album is a natural confluence of KD’s musical streams, bansuri flute weaving its way through acoustic guitars and country swing, and tabla and kartals underscoring melodies that would fit well in the Townes Van Zandt catalog.

There’s a “4 a.m. Hanuman Chalia” on the track list.

Here’s an 11-minute video on the album’s making:

Posted by Steve

More yoga dangers: When yogis invade your gentrified public park

We’ve pointed you toward the Sinister Yogi article that otherwise is a great review of the new Smithsonian yoga exhibit and to the problem of yoga’s being too New Agey, but here’s another yoga danger:

Yogis in your nice public park.

It seems that some residents of Los Angeles’ gentrified and hip Echo Park — which, despite what some people will tell you, isn’t on the Eastside of Los Angeles but is actually north and west of Downtown (try Boyle Heights if you want some authentic Eastside food and culture) — are upset that a yoga class has set up in the recently reopened park by the Echo Park Lake. Here’s how the Eastsider (which covers my parenthetical rant about places in LA on its site) sees things:

Since the lake and park reopened to the public this summer, one of the few relatively flat grassy areas of the park near the corner of Echo Park and Park avenues has hosted Yoga Echo Park, a series of regularly scheduled day and evening classes organized by instructor Steven Arcos.

[snip]

But are these yoga classes, which has attracted 25 students, taking up too much room? On the Echo Elysian Forum, one resident observed that a “good sized hunk of the northeast lawn” had been taken over by the class:

[snip]

The yoga classes are not part of a city’s Recreation & Parks Department program  but it’s not clear if permits are needed.  As others have noted, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department often requires permits for private group activities.  The Eastsider has contacted Arcos for details about the classes and about the permit issue.

Arcos does not charge for the classes but there is “a minimum $5 donation suggested,” according to his Facebook page.

Arcos, in a response to the Eastsider’s email, notes that he grew up in the area and remembers when the park was a hangout for gangs and that part of his intent is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

But still. There’s an average, apparently, of 20 yogis in the class, taking up prime park real estate. The horror, right?

There seems to be two issues bubbling here, especially if you take the time to read through the comments. They are:

  1. Whether someone should be making money while using public space (without a permit, especially). If you are firm on this line, then the comparisons of the yoga class to swap meets and food vendors might be valid. Or, as some are calling all three: illegal pop ups. (It’s about time there are pop-up yoga studios, right?) There then are issues of fair business competition (if this class stealing students from nearby yoga studios?), loss of revenue to the city especially for a business that is explicitly using city property (no taxes are being collected is the guess) and, my favorite, the threat of a “yoga gang” taking over the park (most likely a tongue-in-cheek concern, but you never know!).
  2. Whether people have too much time on their hands and will just complain about anything that annoys them even mildly. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s the case.

Let this tale be a warning to all of our readers in places like Brooklyn, Madison and Arlington. First come your fancy coffee houses, next come your wandering gangs of yogis.

Now then, to avoid being accused of just offering up the blog equivalent of empty calories, I point you toward Tim Miller’s latest blog post, all about Indra (a sinister yogi?) and a fine blurb for the latest Ram Dass book:

It is a tribute to his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who passed from his body 40 years ago, but who is still very much alive in Ram Dass. Krishna Das does a program with Ram Dass in Maui every December. I recently asked K.D. how the old guy was doing. He said, “His body is a wreck but his spirit is beautiful. He’s finally become the guy we always thought he was.” It’s a beautiful book, the best one yet.

That’s saying something, right, with Be Here Now on that list. I wonder, though, if that seminal tome feels a bit dated today. It is very much of the ’60s.

Posted by Steve

Tim Miller rides the Bhav at Bhakti Fest, lunches with KD

On Saturday, Tim Miller went the Bhakti Fest.

On Tuesday, he wrote about it.

Last week, I dropped a quick link to Tim’s blog post about the awesomeness of September and a surprising number of folks clicked through. So perhaps it is worth reminding everyone of Tim’s wonderful Tuesday pieces, and this week’s is on a subject matter I know a lot of our readers fancy. Here’s Tim on the Fest; here he is talking about Krishna Das‘ set:

My favorite was a hymn to the Divine Mother interspersed with the chorus from the old Journey song, “I Want to Know What Love is.”  I hung in there until 11, but knew I had a two and a half hour drive ahead of me and two classes to teach Sunday morning.  I left with a nice glow and an open heart that made the ride home much more pleasant.   I’m very glad I went.  My friends always told me it was my kind of vibe and they were right–I don’t know why it took me five years to get there.  If Bhakti Fest ever invites me to teach again I will say yes.

There are two other reasons you ought to take a look at his full piece. The first is the story retold from his lunch with KD, concerning Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass and the infamous hit of acid that Ram Dass once gave his teacher. Did the tab really have zero effect on the Indian guru? You’ll have to read it to find out.

The second illustrates the impact on people that Shyamdas had. We linked through to Namarupa’s special issue on him after he passed away in February.

I always hear good and bad things about Bhakti Fest (is there anything one doesn’t hear good and bad things about, though?). Tim paints a picture that shines through with all the good.

Posted by Steve

DG on how pranayama transforms your Ashtanga practice, plus a KD Kickstarter

There’s a new video from David Garrigues on how a separate pranayama practice transforms the Ashtanga practice:

He also has new videos on Uddiyana Bandha Kriya vs. Uddiyana Bandha and what to do with bulky shoulders right here.

And Krishna Das has a Kickstarter, up since Sept. 1, that almost is at its goal already. I suppose it may prove that he didn’t necessarily need it — we’ve delved into the whos and whats and whys of this way of funding projects before when it involved “The Roots of Yoga” project.

Here’s a little about KD’s project:

Join me in creating my first studio album to be released on KRISHNA DAS MUSIC. Together, we can keep it in the family !

It’s that time again…. the posse and I are headed back to the studio to record new melodies for us to share. This will be the first project on the KRISHNA DAS MUSIC label !

We are excited about the new music, already in the works. There’s a sneak peak in the video of KRISHNA WALTZ and I PHONE GOVINDA (and the story around how that name came to be !) We will bring you these chants and new melodies to the Devi, Hanuman and more ! Without giving too much away, these new chants are coming alive as you read this. Updates will be posted here, so stay tuned for more information as we go deeper into the zone! We will be in full swing this fall and plan the album release for the Spring 2014.

Finally, did you know we all might be Martians? Check out that and more over at Eddie Stern’s blog.

Posted by Steve