Nubia Teixeira At Summer Bhakti Kirtan Camp And Her Karma Yoga Role!
By Deidre Norman
We are beyond thrilled to be heading to Summer Bhakti Kirtan Camp this August!
This is an annual event led by Jai Uttal, co-created by Nubia Teixeira and co-taught by Daniel Paul and Prajna Vieira. This year’s Kirtan Camp is happening August 6 - 12, in Fairfax, California. All of my favorite things will be happening during this week: Kirtan, Bhakti Yoga, Mantras, Vocal Training, Harmonium, talks on Gods, Goddesses and Saints, and discussions on The Ramayana.
Kirtan according to Jai Uttal is “the calling, the crying, the reaching across infinite space — digging into the heart’s deepest well to touch and be touched by the Divine Presence. These ancient chants contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.” Kirtan is singing the names of Gods and Goddesses over and over again and many times it is done in a call and response way, so that everyone is included.
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Nubia Teixeira, beloved of Jai and as mentioned, co-creator of Kirtan Camp. My first experience with Nubia was in one of her beautiful Yoga classes at Yoga Works. yogaworks.com The experience left me filled with a huge amount of love, an overall feeling of happiness and a true sense of calm. As a teacher, Nubia embodies Bhakti Yoga and her dance background came through with the beauty in which she taught the class. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to be able to ask her about her role at Kirtan Camp and her Yogic path.
How many years has Summer Bhakti Kirtan Camp been happening, and have you been a part of all of them?
This is going to be our 16th Annual Summer Kirtan Camp in Northern California. Jai and I started offering Kirtan Camp in 2002. Kirtan Camp was my idea and it was my intention to have Jai sharing his beautiful work with others and empowering other bhaktas to develop the skills to lead Kirtan themselves.
Since our first Kirtan Camp, our intention/mission was/is: This training is for those who aspire to lead Kirtan; those who wish to enhance their Yoga teaching with chanting; and those who simply wish to immerse themselves in the vast ocean of Bhakti.
What is your favorite part about Kirtan Camp?
The feeling that each one of the participants are reuniting in a very loving and easy way, like members of a spiritual family coming together. I love to witness the participants slowly opening themselves up to the practice of Kirtan, to each other and then to follow up and see how this opening has a ripple effect in their lives beyond Kirtan Camp. Two of my other favorite parts, are seeing someone playing an instrument for the first time, and the Kirtan bands performing at the end of the week.
What is your role at this years Kirtan Camp?
My role at Kirtan Camp is the role of the Mother and all that it is involved in creating and taking care of our Bhakti family and Bhakti household. Throughout the year I am answering emails, helping, welcoming and registering participants. By the time that Kirtan Camp starts, I have e-met all the participants and it is absolutely important to me that they feel loved and welcomed. I also create all of the material for Kirtan Camp (manual, malas, books, etc.), and coordinate the set up from alters, to snacks to sound system. During the Kirtan Camp week I am making sure that everyone is supported.
I am fascinated by your dancing background, can you tell us a little bit more about how you got started and what Bhakti Nova Dance is all about?
I started dancing in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1997. I am trained in the classical Indian dance of Odissi and Bhakti Nova dance is based on this devotional dance. I created small dances for the gods and goddess based on the bigger pieces of the classical dance and I choreograph these dances to modern songs, versus classical. My intention is to share the prayerful component of this temple dance, preserving its sacred geometry and presenting it in a new way.
And then you also teach Bhakti Nova Yoga. Can you explain what this is and how you came to teach this style?
I started teaching Yoga at the age of 18 and for the past 27 years I have dedicated myself to support, in whatever way I can, my students to open their hearts and to feel that their yoga practice is a way to connect with their spiritual reality. Whatever techniques I choose to offer while teaching, whether it be asana, pranayama, dance or prayer, in my heart I hold the intention of opening to the sacred within and all around. Jai came up with the name Bhakti Nova for me thinking of the Bossa Nova music and culture of Brazil. My classes are devotional in its essence, with a Brazilian twist.
What do you love about teaching?
I love to help my students feel embodied and inspired, strong and flexible, purposeful and connected. I love being in community and sharing my heart and holding space for them to share theirs.
You have been teaching and practicing Yoga for many years, what continues to inspire you in your practice?
My own daily practice, my teachers, my friends and my students.
Do you have a favorite mantra or one that you use regularly?
I like to simply say Jai Ma!!!! Daily I sing Durga Stuti or Tantroktam Devi Suktam (a longer prayer that praises 21 expressions of the Mother present in all beings). I bow again and again in reverence to the Devi who is present in every being as Mother. I sing all day long, I go from one mantra to a Brazilian song just like that. Jai calls me Jukebox :)
Why do you feel mantras are an important part of your practice?
Mantras are like keys connecting us to the properties and qualities of the divine beings that are being called. Mantras also have the power to purify our mind's heart and the atmosphere around us. Before something is manifested, mantra is influencing it positively.
You have a CD out, that you created on pranayama. Can you share with us the importance of the breath?
Amongst the Yogic techniques, pranayama is to me the most effective way to support vitality and harmony. The prana that circulates in the body, determines our level of energy. Pranayama unblocks the channels of energy in the body, also helping to distribute and direct the prana to the inner organs, glands, and chakras. This helps to increase the amount of light in ones body and their awareness. In order to give more, you need to have more. As you feel more energy you are able to serve and support others more.
Do you have any additional words of inspiration for our readers?
We are all together here in this beautiful world of ours, sharing this magnificent ride, as brothers and sisters. Our positive actions will effect us and the ones around us. Our negative actions will effect us and the ones near and far from us. Let’s all do one more positive action and one less negative action everyday and care for each other and for our planet with all of our hearts. Let us sing and dance our way into the divine and commune with each other with enthusiasm, truth and joy.
I would also like your readers to know that many of the students passing through our course are now leading Kirtan themselves. Here are just a few of the people you might recognize and possibly have gone to one of their Kirtans: Govindas, Joey Lugassy, Sean Jonhson, Daniel Tucker of Bhakti Breakfast Club, Amy Barnes, MC Yogi, Bob Wisdom, David Lurey, Janet Stone, Stephanie Snyder, Nat Kandel, Daniel Stewert, Masood Ali Khan, Keshavacharya Das of Premahara, Bryn Chrisman, Astrud Castillo, Mirabai Warkulwiz, Charu Rachlis and Jason Nemer.
We hope to see you all this summer at Kirtan Camp!