“Fear is the only thing holding you back.”
Things are more than what they seem at the Hanuman Festival…
In April, I found out that there was a yoga festival in Boulder in June and that some of the yogis I follow were going to be there. Hanuman Festival is in its 7th year and they were looking for volunteers. You only had to donate 15 hours of your time and then you had access to four days of festival. I figured this would be a great opportunity for me- so I signed up. Well, my shift started on Friday and at first I was disenchanted. For starters $10 gave community members access to the vendor village and community classes and basically you are in the energy all day. I unfortunately had the joy of breaking this information to people; in other words I had to tell people that they had to spend money. People did not like this. I was ironically yelled at a yoga festival. I literally had to put my social worker hat on and say in the most non-threatening soft voice, “Sir, I did not make the policy and please do not raise your voice.” This experience, tainted my view for the day. I started to think that this, this is what people are talking about. What am I talking about? The gentrification of yoga. The fact that yoga at times is for rich white people and those who are disenfranchised (i.e. a minority or poor) are excluded. To me I volunteered because I didn’t want to spend the money, but I had the opportunity to volunteer. I was a militant and angry yogi on Friday. It really, really bothered me that the one booth for yogis to learn more about community service work was not very popular. I felt like that these yogis who were better off and white were obligated to help people. And it felt in some ways that it was all about the money for people in the community. The staff at the festival had a valid reason why for the $10 charge and I respected it.
Then, Saturday came. My shift started as a door monitor for an area for people who paid a lot of money and the notable yogis. This did not help me feel any better about the day before. I felt like why was there all this separation but I decided I was not going to feed into it and then I decide to take a picture. I was there early and the field was empty and peaceful. So, I took a selfie and I am pretty sure there was an orb over my shoulder. For those that don’t know an orb is considered to be the result from a visitor of the spirit realm. Then as I was sitting in the area and I think that I saw the whole population of dragonflies in Boulder. Dragonflies are a symbol of transformation. It was all so picturesque. Once I was done my shift I was free for the day so I decided to go to Amy Ippoliti’s class. The class was about loving yourself like Ganesh, I needed to go to the class. The class also brought awareness to the body and how this played out during your practice. She suggested different ways to enhance your practice by bringing more anatomical alignment. Then, a moment came that I always dread it’s when the teacher is like let’s work on crow, or inversions all the things I can’t do. Today’s topic handstands. Handstands are not in my practice. The funny thing at some part in my yoga life I read or heard that people who are overweight really should not do handstands. So, when Amy asked who has never done a handstand before I raised my hand and then shortly realized she was looking for volunteers to try it as well. Secretly, I was in my head saying, “Don’t pick me, don’t pick me…” and she picked me. I did a handstand kind of. The problem was I was so nervous. I could hear the whole room rooting for me. Amy said to me you can do this she said that fear is just holding me back. She said there is no way I can’t do this. It opened my eyes to how much my fear or me thinking I can’t was holding me back. Also, I did not mention that Amy remembered me from a book signing in Boulder in April. It was just amazing to be seen. At the end I talked to Amy who gave me some tips to incorporate in my practice to help me further in my handstand practice. I don’t think Saturday would not have been as great as it was if I did not choose to see the positive in the situation.
Finally, meeting vendors were the added bonus to the festival. There were so many but two of my favorites were Sankalpa and Yogistoned. At Sankalpa I bought this simple little turquoise bracelet and the owner sat down with me and helped me but my bracelet on. During this process, she did a meditation with me. The intention is that I wear the bracelet until it falls off. Then, Yogistoned is an apparel company and if you are not a waif they have clothes for you. The owner is this awesome yoga teacher from Detroit. I recommend that you check out yogistoned on Instagram.
As far as my concern that yoga is not reaching everyone I am going to make an effort to participate in events that help disenfranchised populations. It also helps me aspire to work for the money to attend trainings on how to work with people in disfranchised populations. I realized that I am privileged because I am a white woman and I should use this privilege to my advantage.