Healthy Family Fun at Chantlanta 2013


My husband is incredibly supportive of my yoga practice, and the crazy healthy habits that it inspires. He is pretty open minded about it all, and truly enjoys practicing yoga. Unfortunately, we rarely have time to explore yoga together, now that we have three kids ages 8 and under.

Which is why I really wanted to take him, and the kids, to Chantlanta 2013 this past weekend.

Chantlanta is a two day yoga festival at Druid Hills Baptist church (yes, a Baptist church!), in Atlanta’s artsy Virginia Highlands neighborhood. It’s a cultural event, full of asana, meditation, drumming, and kirtan. The classes and performances are kid-friendly, and almost all are free (donations are happily accepted, however, with proceeds benefitting an amazing organization called The Learning Tea).

A perfect way for a dedicated yogini to spend a Saturday with her family, right?

Truth be told, I was a little hesitant to ask hubby if we could spend our first free Saturday afternoon in months chanting and practicing yoga. Our kids rarely have a weekend off from their extracurricular activities, and I knew there were a million other things he would probably rather do. Not because he doesn’t like yoga and kirtan, but because it is less familiar to him than it is to me, and unfamiliarity breeds resistance. So, ironically, I resisted asking if we could attend Chantlanta, because I feared his resistance to the idea of trying something new.

Thankfully, yoga teaches us that resistance can actually serve us in our pursuit of happiness, if we learn to recognize it, and overcome it.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I asked hubby if we could hang out at a yoga festival, on our one free Saturday afternoon. And of course, being the open-minded person that he is, hubby happily obliged.

After lunch on Saturday, we piled in the car, and headed over to The Highlands. What happened when we got there was awesome:

We practiced Grounded Yoga with our kids…

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…our girls made new friends…

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…and we all took a Double Dog Dare.

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After yoga, we sat on cushions on the floor of the sanctuary, and sang with our kids…

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…and when the spirit called, the kids got up and danced with beautiful scarves…

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and it was really, really fun.

I tried to see it all through my children’s eyes. The yoga, the dancers, the drummers, the unfamiliar songs. They embraced it, and let themselves get carried away. It was beautiful. Joy in its purest form.

Afterward, we went to the artists’ market, where everyone was super friendly, and incredibly generous with gifts for our girls. The girls came home with sparkly beaded keychains, and a beautiful handcrafted necklace, kindly offered to them by the vendors (thanks Natural Healing Stones and Vista Yoga!). We also ran into old friends in the yoga community, and made new friends as well.

As we were leaving, we literally bumped into Krishna Das (remember the kirtan article I wrote a few weeks ago?). I couldn’t believe it! Such a surprise and honor. I’ve been listening to his music for over a decade, so it was a thrill to finally meet him.

The entire day was perfect, and, in hindsight, I can’t imagine what there was to resist.

That’s how it always is with resistance. It seems like the hardest thing in the world to overcome it, but after we do, it makes perfect sense.

So, once again, I am reminded that this is the real yoga. Choosing possibility over attachment. Committing to the path less traveled. And believing that it really does make all the difference.

Special thanks to my friend, Stan Holt, and everyone else at Swaha Productions, for organizing Chantlanta 2013!

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What In The World Is Kirtan?

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One of my favorite yoga instructors will perform kirtan at The Grammys tomorrow night! Steve Ross (pictured above), of Maha Yoga, and Inhale with Steve Ross, will appear with Krishna Das, who has been nominated for “Best New Age Album Of The Year”.

You might be asking yourself, “What is kirtan? And why should I care?”

Kirtan is a call-and-response approach to chanting hymns or mantras, which is a form of meditation. Kirtan is most often performed in groups, and is led by musicians with instruments. It can be religious if you want it to be. Or it can just be a meditation experience. It all depends on how you apply the vibration to your life.

You don’t have to participate in kirtan to be a yogi, but many yogis enjoy it as an approach to meditation. Meditation is one of the eight limbs (practices) of yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and chanting is one of many ways to approach it. So, if you hope to use yoga as a path to a crazy healthy life, you might want to experiment with kirtan.

There are no two more appropriate musicians to learn kirtan from than Steve Ross and Krishna Das. Steve has been a musician for most of his life, having toured and recorded with Fleetwood Mac, and many other highly respected musicians. He’s also a classically trained yoga instructor, who has helped bring yoga to the mainstream in the US, through his TV appearances, books, workshops, and teachings.

Krishna Das is also loved by many, and is often called the “rock star of yoga”. His nomination for Live Ananda is a big deal because it’s only the 2nd time a kirtan album has received this honor.

Still, you might be thinking so what?? New Age Music is a far from mainstream, and has a limited following. Personally, I love rock n’ roll, and resisted new age music for years. Eventually, though, I came around, and developed an appreciation for kirtan. Much like asana (yoga pose) practice, I had to surrender to the experience, before I could embrace kirtan’s place in my practice. And once I did, I never looked back.

So, if you enjoy yoga, and hope to expand your practice, kirtan is worthy of investigation.

If you’re not into yoga, and are still wondering why you should check out the Krishna Das performance online at grammy.com/live tomorrow night, here’s why:

1) The fastest way to create a crazy healthy life is to keep an open mind, and seek new experiences. Experiment, try new things, no matter how unconventional they seem. The more you expand your experience, the more discerning you can be in your wellness efforts.

2) Kirtan, when embraced, can make you feel really groovy. The call-and-response approach to chanting creates an internal vibration. Vibration releases blocked energy, facilitates healing of the mind, body and spirit, and creates a powerful, and authentic, sense of well-being. If you want it to be a path to God, it can deepen your relationship, and strengthen your faith. If religion’s not your thing, kirtan will, at the very least, improve your health.

3) Steve Ross and Krishna Das are legendary musicians and healers. You might not experience the kirtan high, just by watching their performance, but you will at least appreciate their talent and contributions. Yogis certainly need to know who they are, and jump at the chance to chant with them, if they happen to perform at a venue nearby.

Be forewarned, kirtan might seem crazy at first, because the lyrics are unfamiliar, and the music is repetitive. This is by design–it is within the repetition that mediation arises. Stay in the moment, and notice how the music makes you feel. Pay attention to the musicians, and what arises for you as you listen, without judging the experience as good or bad. Maybe it will make you want to hear more, or maybe it won’t. Either way, you will have explored the possibility of new way to fully embrace a crazy healthy life.

Photo: http://www.examiner.com