Shiva Rea Bringing The Sacred Fire To Colorado's ARISE Music Festival
By Megan Warren-Henderson
In 2003, when I was pregnant with my first child, one of my friends shared Shiva Rea’s Prenatal VHS with me. I practiced alone, finding it calming and grounding. I was preparing for a powerful rite of passage and that video opened my heart to the inner strength of motherhood and the ancient wisdom of yoga. Fourteen years later, I truly believe it takes a village to create community (and raise a child). Shiva Rea will be in Loveland, Colorado for the weekend of August 4, sharing 25 years of her yogic wisdom with the conscious community at the ARISE Music Festival. Shiva is more than a global yoga teacher. She is also a creative catalyst and life artist, a lover of life, a movement alchemist, an energy activist, a pilgrim and an explorer. Shiva has a presence that brings everyone together, and is perfectly aligned with the dynamic rhythm that exists at summer music festivals. Shiva will be a potent addition to a rising social movement that is happening at ARISE.
I caught up with her recently in between her extensive travel and a teaching schedule that would leave most in a puddle of exhaustion. Nonetheless, immense vibrancy came through her voice and her light showed through from the very get go.
Shiva, what do you hope to bring to ARISE?
My intention is to delve into how yoga can activate collective consciousness through movement meditation, with an emphasis on movement meditation that connects to the earth and its' rhythm. My background is in world cultures. I have been behind the scenes at festivals and have traveled all around the world studying the communities that encompass varying festivals. Festivals are great places for fertilizing consciousness, thereby serving as spaces in which I can spread my intentions with the communities I cross paths with. I am interested in cultivating large scale collective meditation.
What does dancing and music and doing yoga in community do for our collective community as a whole?
I studied dance history. My background in world arts and culture led me to contemplate the archeological records. What were the earliest ways that people came together? What I discovered dates back beyond the modern era. Historically, as long as people gathered around the fire, they were in this process of collective meditation. When someone with no meditation background settles around a fire, they organically begin to come into a natural state of meditation.
When I teach in a mandala, in a circle formation, that can already be radically different than how people experience an everyday yoga class. It’s amazing what happens when we simply face towards the center and what transpires within the collective movement meditation. The reason why yoga is so popular and widespread is that it goes beyond the physical realm. Even if one’s intention is to achieve a challenging physical and wellness-inducing practice, the sacredness of breathing takes the practitioner to a connected, newfound place. So I always just start from that intention of connecting us to the sacredness that can be accessed through our breath.
What is the healing power of community and movement?
There is a lot of diversity. Rhythm syncopates us together. Really, when we look at some of the vinyasas of yoga, like something as simple as cat's breath, it is a basic pattern of African dance which is the expansion and contraction of the heart and the pelvis. I have been to all night funerals when I lived in Ghana and studied this simple movement present in the Ewe culture, all night long. There becomes this way in which music, movement, chanting, and community are a continuation of the oldest ways that humans balanced themselves individually and collectively.
In this era of extreme political divisiveness, how can we keep our hearts open?
I think the main thing in this political era or frame is this daily practice of not getting fragmented, not getting overwhelmed, not acting from anxiety or fear, and at the same time acting from a place of integration, of wholeness, and focusing on the positive.
We are social beings and festivals are a great meeting ground. Festivals can act as places whereby the collective healing power can engage itself and shine through. I think this is more important than ever.
How do we take the positive flowing energy that we reach at Arise home with us and into our daily lives?
After the festival, there is a secularization that occurs when we go back to our secular, worldly neighborhoods. I think what is happening at Arise is that there is a rhythm to the local festivals that infuses the spirit into the entire summer. In short, once you have gone to a festival in the summer, you may continue to be drawn to more and more festivals. Attending a festival like ARISE can alchemically change you.
The power of the festivals is that we are essentially recreating sacred rituals in the present day. Rhythm and ritual also apply to our food. I like simple rituals that I can enjoy and apply to my everyday life. In the evening before bed, I like to make a tonic. I am enjoying one recently that is detoxifying, nourishing and low in sugar. It is comprised of almond milk with a dash of tulsi, fenugreek, cumin and fennel. I don’t want to give the impression that I am walking around and collecting herbs or stirring a pot slowly, as that is far too complicated for everyday practicality. I just toss in the mixed ground herbs and there you have it. I like to nourish my family, but it has to be simple.
Light the lamp. Love always. See you in the flow of life. See you at ARISE: the consummate summer camping festival for conscientious music fans!