Bhakti Fest: A Festival Of Love
By Jennifer Goodman
This was my seventh year attending Bhakti Fest, and it remains to be my favorite yoga and music festival. Each year is a new and different experience for me, and each time seems to feel better and better, is it me or Bhakti Fest? Maybe it's a little of both!
There was a lot of hype this year around the festival being moved to a new location within Joshua Tree, both excitement and hesitation. This is the 11th year of Bhakti Fest and the previous location seemed to be the perfect spot and had become comfortable to all of us veterans. I found there were a lot of first timers that attended this year, which along with the new location, added to the feeling of another new experience.
The new location did have its differences, and I had my own pros and cons but what always remains the same is the magic of Bhakti Fest, regardless of location. Plus, it was still nestled within the grounds of beautiful Joshua Tree. The dates were also moved two weeks later which gave a cooler temperature to the festival that many appreciated.
My magical Bhakti experience began with my ride. I was coming from St. George, Utah and the people I had driven with in the past could not attend this year, so I put my faith out there that I could manifest a ride…and I did. Not just a ride, but a lovely couple driving a refurbished 1960’s Volkswagen Bus. We hit it off and I ended up camping next to them. Next to us was a lovely woman camping out of her solar powered fiberglass trailer, and a friend of mine joined us with his pick-up truck - with tent in back. We created a little camping community and became Bhakti friends. We all arrived the day before the official start of the festival, so we had some time to scope out the new location and get a lay of the land. I was surprised to see so many tents already set up. The next morning I woke up early and zipped open my tent to a perfect view of the sun rising…and from there…the magic continued.
This year none of my friends that I usually hang with could make it, so I welcomed a more solitary experience as well as the opportunity to be more social and meet some new beautiful souls. This also encouraged me to break out of my usual routines and try new classes as well. The first morning I took some time to be alone in the quiet stillness of the desert and to hang with my neighbors before jumping into classes. I watched the sunrise every morning and sunset every evening. I let myself go with the flow more and I let the days evolve without sticking to a schedule. This allowed for more synchronistic connections and moments. The magic!
I did attend some of my favorite classes that I always do such as Govind Das and Radha, who I feel are the heart of Bhakti Fest. I went to Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda, who offered Kirtan, Kirtronica, and a Kundalini class. After their Kundalini class, we all ended in a huge hug of love, which no one wanted to part from. I began two of my mornings with my teacher, inspiration, and dear friend Kia Miller, who always delivers an empowering and transforming Radiant Body class full of the beauty and grace that she carries. MC Yogi has become a new favorite of mine, both for his high energy evening set on the stage as well as his yoga class where he has us grooving, twisting, and laughing throughout. I went to a Michael Brian Baker, founder of The Breath Center, workshop. And as always it delivered a unique and deeply healing experience for me. Dharma Devi has become another must for me as her women’s sacred circle breath workshops also offer a deeply supportive place to be open, vulnerable, and connect with other women. And there is Saul David Raye, who always brings a sweet, heart opening experience to his Kirtan and classes.
It was a last-minute decision for me to attend Dawn Cartwright’s post intensive and Cacao Ceremony, and I am so glad I did! Accompanied by Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda, it was a workshop on Neo Tantra, a path to gain access to the inner love affair taking place in the heart. To discover new ways to bring the love within you into your life and relationships and to create new inner pathways to receive love, to let love in…and it did. Each person that attended left completely full of love within and love for all.
I also loved seeing Radhanath Swami. He is the one who first called Bhakti Fest the festival of love, and he is the true epitome of love. With such sweetness and humility, he delivers words of wisdom, animated stories, and an authentic elevating Kirtan that brings everyone to their feet.
As always, the schedule was full of amazing teachers, workshops, sound healing, healers, women’s and men’s groups, Kirtan training, and two stages packed with incredible musicians. And once again, there were so many vendors vendors with delicious food, and lots of shopping booths full of yoga attire, crystals, jewelry from local artists, malas, deities and so much more...it takes major self-control each year for me to not buy everything.
One thing I really liked about this new location was all of the communal areas for people to hang out, sit and watch the sunset, take a dip in the pond, sing, dance, and play music together. I felt this community experience gave us all easier opportunities to connect to connect with each other.
Each time I attend Bhakti Fest, I feel it opens me up more. It is so nice to be in a community where all that is shared is hugs, smiles, generosity, soul connections, and love. I always return home inspired to share this love and my experiences…this magic and this love that is Bhakti Fest.
To learn more about Bhakti Fest visit: www.bhaktifest.com.