OM Rising: Gathering Our Sangha
Cover Photo taken from www.omrising.org.
By Nikita Mehta
What does it mean to truly form community? To be in sangha with one another? Every day in studios all across the Bay Area we roll out our mats, side by side, flow and breathe, move our bodies, set intention and lay in savasana together. We say hello, make lingering eye contact, exchange numbers, meet for coffee… and then go about on our busy, beautiful, blessed lives. We are a community. We are a community of movers and empaths. We love deeply and revel in our practice. But what breaks the wall between knowing the person on the mat beside yours and truly loving them?
Concentrated time together.
And how do we find that time in this busy, fast paced world?
Festival is not only a time to go inward and take the classes that speak to your soul, it is also a time to reach out and have intimate conversations, ask questions, and go deeper with people who vibrate at your frequency. We attend festivals all around the world, make connections and then come home buzzing with the experience that we just had. But what if there was a festival geared towards our Bay Area family? A festival that brought together great Bay Area teachers, so that after being inspired by a teacher’s offering you could go and flow with them regularly at studios in your hometown. A festival where you could run into that sweet soul that you have been practicing next to for the last few years but haven’t had the time to stop and talk with. A festival where you could get out of the city, into the forest, spend time with those that you vibrate with and then go home and hang out with your new tribe.
The first annual OM Rising Festival was made to fulfill all of these requirements. Created by Tim Dale, the original mastermind behind the Yoga Tree brand, OM Rising is a 3 day, all encompassing yoga festival set in the redwood forest of Navarro, a two and a half hour drive from the Golden Gate Bridge. OM Rising gives us the opportunity to come together as a community and flow and breathe with all of the teachers you love and the students that you wished you could spend more time with.
We here at SF Yoga Magazine love all festivals, but this one is near and dear to our hearts. We sat down with founder Tim Dale to talk about Yoga Tree, community and why this festival is unlike the rest.
Tim, we are so inspired by the Yoga Tree brand and the teachers that you have brought together to help elevate the community. Can you tell us about how and why you started the Yoga Tree brand?
Sure. Yoga Tree started with one little studio on Stanyan Street and I basically opened up the first Yoga Tree because of the profound effects that it had on me and how it helped me with my ADD and my focus and some bad habits that were health concerns. So I committed to a work sabbatical and a yoga practice and after a year I was a different guy. I had more clear thinking and I was in the moment. First and foremost, I am a business guy, before yoga, since my teenage years I have worked in the restaurants and nightclub and entertainment business, I am kind of an entrepreneur, so I manifested this opportunity to open up a yoga studio. I created that opportunity for myself on Stanyan street and my intuition was correct because people really gravitated towards that first studio, not only students, but also teachers and neighbors. They all just embraced that space. This was the same time that we were going through some social change and people were going through personal changes and it was amazing that I was able to witness the purpose that yoga gave to people’s lives. So I grew the company, not for any other reason than that the demand was there, because the teachers were asking for it, the community was asking for it, the classes were all filling up. I was just try to supply the demand. My timing was good and the way that I always do my businesses is that I don’t try and force things, I do what naturally wants to happen and so that is how the company grew, I just supported the teachers and allowed them to offer what was true for them. It has been great to witness how Yoga Tree has assisted so many people in a changing time in their lives or when they were looking for a message, a place where they could find their space. There are so many reasons why people start a practice. Yoga Tree being there, and the teachers and the teachings provided really incredible support for them.
This is the first year that you are putting together this amazing OM Rising festival. What is the intention of this year’s festival?
The mission of OM Rising is self empowerment. And to do that through community; by supporting each other, by embracing the teachings, and by giving students the personal space to rise in intention. But also we want to highlight community. I want to connect the community, I want to grow the community. I want people to come together and give each other support and have a good time doing it. It doesn’t have to seem like work, it can be play.
After the fires last year it seems more important than ever that we recognize and hold onto our sangha here at home so that we can fall back on these support systems during times of need. Can you tell us about how the fires have influenced this year’s festival?
I lost a house in the Sonoma Fire. It was tragic. The purpose of the house was to be a retreat center and a place where teacher and students could gather when they needed personal space or when they needed to create community. It was an amazing property in Sonoma that many people held retreats at. It was a smaller space, only held 10 people at a time, for teacher who were just coming through the ranks for them to help figure their stuff out. Losing that house was tragic. It was tragic for the first couple months and then it became an opportunity and that is how we need to view everything. I have never been through change in my life where I haven’t been able to create myself better than before. That’s what it is all about.
Many of the people who will attend this festival have had the opportunity to flow with one another, to sit in mediation with one another, but might not have found the time to sit and have an honest conversation or go deeper. Why is it important for them to go to festival together.
This is an extended period of time, it's not just dropping in for an hour and a half, its about really getting time to get to know and learn and break and dance, and really feed each other. It's so joyous to come together with like-minded souls. It's so empowering to see that support, that community. And Camp Navarro, the property Is about 2 ½ hours from the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s 80 acres, it is set up, so that there is a bunch of camp spots for RV’s and regular camping and it all circles around a piazza. It fosters community and interaction. You see the way a European city is built so that interaction and community is fostered, and that’s the way Camp Navarro is. You will see when we are all there, the spaces are broken down into individual camps that come together as one big festival ground. The dynamics of bringing people together for an extended period of time is really profound. It’s also a chance to unplug and embrace nature and hanging out with the redwoods, I compare it to hanging out with a bunch of old souls.
Who are you most excited to see and hear?
We have so many amazing teachers. I am excited about the more intriguing classes. Most of our classes are outdoors. We have Peter Walters, a big up and coming yoga teacher, who will be doing blindfold yoga. Michelle Bouvier is doing a class called primal flow in the redwood forest without mats. Suzanne Sterling has a big offering, she is going to bring her voice of change work, getting empowered around your voice and how that can be a vehicle for change, which is so aligned with the mission and what is needed in the world. Katchie Ananda will be there doing some empowering work around meditation and mindfulness which is so key. Darren Main will be bringing some powerful work on the subtle body and pranayama and yoga for addiction and HIV and intimate relationships. Mark Morford will be there and he always brings it.
Let’s talk about the variety of the classes offered at festival.
One of the things that I think is going to be really powerful about this festival is; stillness and motion. It's really about the dichotomy of going from a sound bath to dancing in the redwoods, from a deep meditation where we can talk about our dharma and our purpose to a strong sweaty vinyasa class. From stillness and silence and meditation into deep conversation. What is powerful to me is the way that these two things are able to strengthen each other, they give each other such purpose. Stillness and motion, motion and stillness. It's all about finding balance.
What sets this festival apart?
This festival was made to feel grassroots. I want it to feel playful and organic and really down to earth. And highlight our amazing teachers, all of our nor cal teachers. We will have so many different movement classes and ways for people to interact with each other and with nature.
OM Rising will be held from October 5-8th. For more information on the festival or to buy tickets visit: www.omrising.org.
Early Riser tickets are on sale now ($250 for the whole weekend) and they already include a spot to pitch your tent if you choose not to upgrade your accommodations!
As an extra added bonus for our SF Yoga Mag readers, use code: NIKITA at check out for 10% off!
All images taken from www.omrising.org.