Chant at Bhakti Love Reunion in September
Bhakti is the Yoga of Devotion. It is often defined as the Yoga of Love. One of the most visible ways that this is practiced in the world is through music. But not just any music. Chanting. Ecstatic singing. The repetition of the names of the divine with celebratory melodies, often with Sanskrit mantras. With the repetition of call and response between musicians and audience known as kirtan. There is a certain joyous ecstasy to the practice of Bhakti. It is not performance but participation. It is community. It is love. The Bhakti Love Reunion, a brand-new festival bringing Bhakti to life, is an in-person explosion and expression of Bhakti.
During the months and years of pandemic-driven isolation, the festivals that have become part of the expression of yoga in the modern world took different forms. Live-streamed sessions, virtual festivals, people chanting at home.
The Magic of Bhakti Love Reunion
The new festival, Bhakti Love Renunion creators and producers Kenneth Schwenker and Johanna Beekman both embody the values of devotion and community. Kenneth is one of the founders of the first Bhakti Fest, held in 2009 in Joshua Tree, California. Of that groundbreaking event, Kenneth reflects that is was the first festival of its kind to unite many spiritual lineages and practices. In addition, he has put his devotion into action through his work producing many other festivals, including Leaders Causing Leaders and One Love Festival, as well as numerous feature films. Johanna Beekman is a prolific artist, musician, producer, and teacher. She describes herself as a pollinator, traveling the country sharing fairy dust through the magic of song, practice, and community. Johanna’s love of and dedication to collaboration is evident in how she talks about the magic in planning this festival, the Bhakti Love Reunion.
The two of them describe their meeting and connecting around this endeavor as being guided by angels. They reference the magical things that can happen in the cross-pollination of in-person gatherings. There was a bit of magic that came through in finding the location where the Bhakti Love Reunion will be held.
Bhakti Love Reunion Offers a Rejuvenate Festival Experience
The Native Springs Oasis in Weldon, California is at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The sacred land contains a stream and a pond. And there are natural mineral hot springs around 20 minutes away along the nearby Kern River. A couple of hours outside of Los Angeles, the location is accessible from Southern, Central, and Northern California, on land that is welcoming and provides a venue for resetting attendee’s nervous systems as well as recharging and restoring. The event itself will include rituals honoring the land, the water, and the hot springs. Johanna and Kenneth feel that they are offering everyone an open invitation to their second home. This home, this oasis, offers an escape from the cities, the routines of daily life, into a portal of practice. The land itself features plenty of camping and glamping, while nearby hotels and motels are also available.
The heart of it all, the love itself, it found through the practices of Bhakti, of devotion. Through the repetition of song, of mantra, of sharing our voices.
During the festival itself, Johanna describes a schedule that will include an arc or flow of energy throughout a daily cycle, reminiscent of at the rhythm or sequences of a yoga practice. Yoga classes and workshops will be held each morning, allowing people to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the heart opening of the chanting later in the day. “All of the energy will go to the main stage at night.” The invitation of the divine feminine and the gathering of diverse voices from the community are seen on the schedule as a whole, both in classes and workshops, as well as on the main stage.
Sacred Practices on Sacred Land
In the schedule, the weekend programming includes topics such as a panel on diversity in yoga. Every evening, sacred fire ceremonies will be held around the fire pit. Each morning, attendees can drop into yoga classes or Breathwork, and can flow throughout the day and night between learning, healing breathing, and moving, interwoven in with the restorative power of sound before everyone gathers at the main stage. Of course, nutritious food, a conscious marketplace, and healers, will all be part of the immersive festival experience.
One of the essential parts of Bhakti Love Reunion is the creation of a family-friendly atmosphere. For example, teacher and musician Reya Manna will be leading the Kids’ Tent, where a safe place for kids will include the “Sing the World Awake” practices for kids.
A familiar list of artists and teachers sharing the love at Bhakti Love Reunion include the following. C.C. White Soul Kirtan, Donna DeLory, Kamini Natarajan, Masood Ali Khan, Sianna Sherman, Saul David Raye, David Newman, Larisa Stowe, Girish, J Brave, DPAK, Joss Jaffe, Nandhiji, Leeza and Humberto Villagomez, Ben Leinbach, Jai Anand, Evan Perman, Annmarie Soul, Reya Manna, Cheri Rae, Manoj Chalam Mashi, Cooper Ladnier, Fantuzzi, Girish, Michael Hathaway, Butter Thieves, Heart Medicine, Dahveed Haribol Das, and more.
From the morning practices, to community yoga classes, to honoring the land, to chanting together as the sun sets, the Bhatki Love Reunion, will truly offer a welcome reunion, gathering a community longing to come together on sacred land in California. The festival as a whole offers a living practice of how we can bring the sacred in so many forms into our daily lives. This is the event we need now, for our collective sacred journey.
Attend Bhakti Love Reunion
Learn more and buy your tickets now at: bhaktilove.com.
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.