Yoga Rocks (Boulder Weekly 8/13/09)
The Yoga Rocks Mountain Fest inspires community
by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly
The juxtaposition of music, yoga and nature “has the ability not only to connect you to a deeper aspect of yourself but to connect you to everything and everyone everywhere, universally,” says Rachel “Shakti” Redding, a Boulder-based yoga therapist who has been teaching the “blissipline” of Inner Power Yoga all over the world since 2000.
Redding, an Indiana native, founded Yoga World Reach a few years ago and focuses the non-profit’s energy mostly on teaching yoga to people recovering from stress and trauma, whether caused by poverty, disease, disability, domestic violence or even just the ubiquitous “9 to 5” nausea.
From drawing crowds of children into impromptu yoga classes on the beaches of Belize to organizing her annual Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference in Vail, Redding keeps busy sharing the inspiration and strength of music, yoga and nature, a combination that helped her escape substance abuse and even recover from a near-fatal car crash.
“Bringing the three of those pieces together is transformative; awaking enlightening particles of life together is such a moving and powerful experience,” Redding told me recently via phone from Lincoln, Nebraska, yet another locale where Yoga World Reach has connected with the yoga community to hold restorative workshops and teacher training programs.
Redding came to Colorado about 15 years ago – “beckoned by the mountains” – and just last year began holding the annual Yoga Rocks Mountain Fest at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, featuring over a dozen musical acts, countless yoga and meditation workshops from 20 instructors, plus community-oriented booths, food vendors, drum circles, and other surprises. To Redding, bringing yoga, the beauty of Colorado, and great live music together was a no-brainer.
“It just creates a celebration, a pulsation of the entire living community,” she says. “When there’s no music and you’re practicing yoga in silence and stillness, that is such a beneficial and amazing way to practice — the rhythm and the pulsation of the universe, even just your heartbeat, can create a dynamic music just on its own — but when we come together as a yoga community, celebrating the musical vibration of like-minded consciousness and voices of unified peace and joy and we put it all together in a setting that’s under these amazing trees, rock croppings, and right alongside the river, it magnifies the potential for infinite possibility and ultimate joy and bliss. It’s so much fun.”
Last summer, about 250 people attended Yoga Rocks, and this time (August 21-23) Redding expects even more. The diverse musical performances, from the funky kirtan devotionals of Girish to the bluegrass of Mountain Trance Medicine Band, will be donated as part of Yoga Rocks’ overall effort to raise money for Yoga World Reach’s many ongoing projects, including a humanitarian trip to Africa this December to bring yoga and much-needed supplies to the Sudan.
In addition to exciting bands, Yoga Rocks is also blessed with the help of many local volunteers, such as Boulder Weekly’s own Irene Joyce, who has danced with Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet and Sweden’s Gothenburg Ballet. Partnered with Boulder’s M.E.S.A. (Moving to End Sexual Assault), Joyce blurred the lines between artist and audience at Yoga Rocks last year by performing a modern dance piece centered on the subject of domestic abuse to the recorded sounds of Sigur Ros and other poignant music.
“It was beautiful,” Joyce says. “I was invited to do a little dance performance and workshop. There were yoga classes letting out – we did yoga in the river that morning and the teacher had each of us doing yoga on a rock in the river – and people started coming in while a friend of mine named Jeremy Kotenberg and I were doing thematic improvisations onstage.”
“There was such an open and spiritual experience between everyone, and knowing that they’d just come from yoga practice, I felt the breath from myself and from everyone else and at one moment I felt guided to be in the whole group and started moving off the stage with ideas and themes of healing and invited anyone who wanted to join us in authentic movement.”
“It was really expansive because we were just in an open tent with the river behind us. I felt we were all connected; the movement that took place led to a lot of emotive expression that happened naturally. We wouldn’t have met each other on the street that way at all, but Yoga Rocks provided that space and it was unique because we trusted each other and weren’t speaking what our past trauma was; we were speaking healing in the way that we were moving with each other. It was incredible.”
Joyce is returning to Yoga Rocks next weekend to hear live music, take some yoga classes, and sell her creative homemade chocolates, with half of the proceeds going to Yoga World Reach. The 3-day mixture of performance and practice looks to be eclectic and unpredictable once again, although with the expansion of performers this year, Redding seems most excited about the music.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with practicing in the quiet stillness of a very solitary room,” she says. “But there’s also a time for getting together as a community and truly rocking in celebration. The music rocks your soul…and that’s why we call it Yoga Rocks.”
Tickets and more information are available at http://www.yogaworldreach.org