Dakini Festival - Where The Water, The Fire, The Air And The Earth Dance Together
By Ema Barba
The second edition of Dakini Festival brought together hundreds of people from all over the world to Tuzla, a beach in Romania that amazingly combined music, dance, all types of Yoga and therapy.
All elements were combined as well – we played with fire, connected to the earth, danced in the air and connected with water – plenty of it!
We didn't even mind the rain when it caught us under an umbrella along with a group of people singing with Istvan Sky – who sounds just as amazing live as he does from the speakers, during my Yoga studio sessions.
I was happy that he confirmed my view – that everybody has a voice and can actually sing.
“Of course! They are just shy from what they’ve been taught in school. They’ve been punished or been told that they don’t have a voice, but many people find their voice in chanting sessions.” - Istvan Sky
This year’s edition has truly been one of synchronistic encounters – for me, at least. I had come to this festival joyfully awaiting to start a conversation with a few of the Yoga teachers I admire like, Gustavo Plaza and Avisek Majumdar.
Serendipity put me, Gustavo and Avisek on the same corner of the beach, at the same time. Suddenly, as if by chance, everything aligned so that I could start the conversation.
"There’s no such thing as express spirituality." - Gustavo Plaza
What does spirituality mean to you?
Gustavo: There is a lot of spiritual nonesense going on right now. Everybody knows how to let go but no one knows how to hold on. Right now spirituality has become some kind of fashion and a product that you believe is going to make you escape reality. People started to get from spirituality, ideas that go against actual commitment. You are being taught to quit very easily. You don’t like your job? Leave your job. You don’t like your husband? Leave your husband. Spirituality actually means a lot of work and effort.
You end up not learning from an experience because you don’t go deep enough...
Gustavo: Of course, there are certain situations… if you have a husband who hits you, that is violence and a completely different story. But now we avoid being bored. You want to be excited? Life isn’t just about being excited. We all want to feel only beautiful emotions. Like… in this festival it has been raining. Rain is part of life! You need to know how to deal with negative emotions. They come and go just like the clouds. We don’t learn to control the emotions. But we learn how to not let emotions control us. Emotions are going to come. Happiness is going to come, sadness is going to come. You need to experience them and let them go. There’s no such thing as express spirituality. You need to do the work.
“Healing happens when we create harmony within.” - Avisek Majumdar
Right now I’m very interested in how people can heal with Yoga. You probably have seen many examples in your work. Could you share some stories?
Avisek: In Yogic understanding, healing is a state of harmony. Wellness is a state of harmony. Any kind of healing is something where we move from disharmony into harmony. When you connect your action with your thoughts and they are in synchronicity with your thoughts and emotions, that is mental healing. Physical healing occurs when you meet the very specific needs of your body in a harmonious way, when you don’t exploit your body by stuffing it – you know what I mean? Our food habits are based on 10 cm. what feels good inside the mouth goes inside the mouth. We never do consider the rest 9 meter longs passage of HOW it is going to react to the food. Healing happens when we create harmony within. The energy flow that is taking place, the harmony is reflected in your lifestyle.
What do you mean when you say “the mind?”
Gustavo: A lot of research in different institutions, even Harvard University and different universities all over the world show how Yoga can help in different conditions. It has been tested and found that it helps in so many situations like stress release and depression. The problem is that sometimes we only see the physical illness. But mental illnesses are one of the major problems in the world. And these conditions will turn themselves into psychosomatic aspects. And it is said by some holistic doctors and people related to transcendental psychologies that repressed emotions can also cause cancer. There’s a lot of information and research done where people cured themselves by practicing Yoga. Several mental problems or sicknesses such as depression, anxiety… people are curing themselves from different aspects of trauma. Then you can cure several illnesses like diabetes. My mother cured herself through pranayama from asthma. But we have to be VERY centered to accept that not only Yoga, but changing the lifestyle is what’s healing.
That is impressive! I cured asthma in myself but I have never heard of anyone else.
Gustavo: The most important thing we need to heal ourselves from, is thinking that we are just our body. We need to get to know ourselves. Most of the problems we have in life are because we are unhappy.
"Healing in Yoga is psychologic – understanding who you really are.” - Gustavo Plaza
Is Yoga’s purpose to make you happy?
Gustavo: We confuse happiness with thrill. With amusement. Real happiness is internal peace. Real happiness is joy. When you are really happy, you can experience a bad situation in life, you can experience a good situation in life. When you’re in peace and you have a bad situation, you can deal with it with a clear mind. If you are in peace and you are in Disneyland you can actually enjoy. Imagine you are in Disneyland and you’re not in peace. You can’t actually enjoy it!
Yoga makes us remember that our essence is peace – that is our essence, that is who we are. Healing in Yoga is psychologic – understanding who you really are. Not as an enemy but as a tool you can really use.
“Yoga empowers you. It makes you realize there’s no one in between you and the divine." - Avisek Majumdar
If it is so powerful, why are so many people still resistant to try?
Avisek: We can never get all 7 billion people in the world to try Yoga. That would be insane. But also, there are some people who have strong filters. And they are not ready to let go of those filters today. We can convince people by sharing information, by sharing the scientific background… but ultimately nobody can convince you. It depends on you. Nothing happens unless the person is ready from the inside.
Until we hit rock bottom, we’re not ready to listen. Once you hit your back to the wall and experience a breakdown…things change. You become ready to listen. You start to ask for help – otherwise we are too proud to ask for help.
And there’s also people who have this funny idea that Yoga is a religion, a sect… Somebody came to my class, we did a mantra and she said: “I’m an orthodox Christian, I don’t want to focus on my breath.” To that I replied: “Jesus would really like you to keep breathing so that you can keep your religion. If taking a deep breath makes you so fragile that you lose your religion it’s worth letting go.”
Why is Yoga so despised by some religious authorities?
Gustavo: Even though Yoga is not religion, it’s practiced by 3 important religions in India – Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Therefore there is some connection to religion. So people think you will lose religion if you do this. Also, in most of the cases, leaders of spiritual institutions recommend not to practice Yoga. Why? Because Yoga empowers you. Makes you realize there’s no one in between you and the Divine. That there’s no one that’s going to make you happy but yourself. The only guide is yourself. If they lose you, they lose power.
But some religious figures are more open. We have had many amazing spiritual seekers who were Catholic priests and supported meditation practice. There are Catholic priests who are living as swamis in India. They all see meditation and Yoga as going deeper into your own religion.
“Yoga is not about learning, it’s about Unlearning!” - Gustavo Plaza
How can we become more aware of how we are conditioned?
Gustavo: You have to be aware of your own conditioning. You are always part of a culture – you are not actually choosing, you don’t react by freedom. Yoga is being the king of your mind, of yourself. Yoga is not about learning, it’s about Unlearning! It’s a mind frame. It’s about stepping out of your social filters. Out of your own limitations.
You don’t want to be under any religion, but you are still living under condition; it’s still a “religion” as long as everyone does the same and thinks the same. The idea of being different is not celebrated by everyone. Hypnosis of the culture that makes us act and think as it wants.
It’s very difficult to leave your old patterns. People don’t want to use Yoga because we live in a culture of express – express meditation, express happiness, express relationships. We don’t want to work for it, but it takes time.
Speaking of time – I was definitely grateful for theirs. More could have been said, but shortly after we sat down, we had to run from the suddenly approaching storm. It looked like the rain would never end – and neither would the exploring of Yoga. May we all take some time for what matters and wait patiently.
Until next year, Dakini!
To stay in touch with Dakini Festival, visit: dakinifestival.com.