TELLURIDE – In a summer season packed full of world-class music, powerful films and, generally speaking, a raucous good time, it can be difficult to find the time to slow down long enough to focus on finding serenity and nurturing our inner selves and the planet.
The Third Annual Telluride Yoga Festival, dedicated to promoting the practice and teaching of various yoga lineages while raising awareness and funds for environmental preservation, returns to town next Thursday through Sunday, July 8-11, offering a tranquil respite from the frenetic festival scene.
The festival will bring the best yoga instructors and Buddhist scholars from around the country to lead workshops in Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Anusara, Purna, Prajna, Tibetan Heart, Yin, Hatha and Buddhism, as well to as offer a series of public events designed to unify the yogic community and raise environmental awareness.
They include yoga masters Aadil Palkhivala, Mark Whitwell, Richard Freeman, Tias Little and Scott Blossom joined by Lama Tsultrim Allione, one of the first American women ordained as a Tibetan nun and the New York Times best-selling author of Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict, and instructors Alanna Kaivalya, The Yoga Slackers (Jason Magness, Adi Carter and Sam Salwei), Karl Straub, Amy Ippoliti, Diego Del Sol, David Hollander and Dr. Katayani Poole.
“It is such an honor to host instructors with so much integrity. They bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to the festival,” said festival co-founder Aubrey Hackman.
“We have not only some of the most well-respected yoga masters in the country joining us, but also the newest and the brightest rising stars. Three of our teachers, Scott Blossom, Chandra Easton and Alanna Kaivalya were all recognized in Yoga Journal’s 2008 list of ‘Top 21 Yoga Instructors Under 40.’”
Workshops and sessions are available for beginning to advanced practitioners, and this year’s festival is also offering a special “Yoga and Buddhism: Unraveling the Essence of Practice,” track which explores the relationship between yoga and Buddhism.
“The past couple of years we have had some really incredible teachers who are all Buddhists and who have a tremendous amount of wealth in this practice of Buddhism,” Hackman explained.
For those just starting to practice yoga, the beginners track will offer classes in a wide range of styles, by the end of which students should have created a foundation for their own practice.
“You’re going to have kind of an understanding of the different lineages and different styles of yoga,” Hackman said.
Meanwhile the festival’s advanced track is for those who are seeking to deepen their existing practice and study at the highest knowledge base with each instructor, she explained.
Each day of the festival, which strives to be a zero-waste event and will donate 25 percent of its net proceeds to Telluride’s regional sustainability organization, The New Community Coalition, begins with morning meditation followed by one of many three-hour workshops.
Daily, four-hour lunch breaks offer optional panel discussions, presentations and workshops, as well as outdoor adventures such as guided hikes, rafting and other activities that are followed by two-hour afternoon workshops.
One highlight of the festival (open to the public for $15 and free for festival passholders) is Friday evening’s Bhakti Fest-produced Kirtan, bringing yoga world music sensation Wah! to the Telluride Conference Center stage, described by Yoga Journal as “lay[ing] down her love dharma in sultry downtempo grooves, throbbing club beats, and spoken-word rap passages.” Wah! will be joined by New Orleans mantra musicians Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band (described by the same publication as, “A joy to listen to whether you’re a yogi or anyone who appreciates wildly creative music”), and Shyamdas, a specialist in classical Indian singing and the mystic poets of North India.
“I really believe it’s going to be one of the best kirtans to come to this area,” said Hackman, who explained that the interactive meditative chanting practice helps people to reach a deep, meditative state.
“Even just listening is a really powerful experience,” she said.
A panel discussion among Buddhist yoga teachers moderated by Elephant Journal editor in chief Waylon Lewis takes place at the Telluride Conference Center on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m highly encouraging people to come and show up at that,” said Hackman. “I think it’s going to be extremely interesting.”
Asked why people should practice yoga, Hackman’s answer was simple.
“There’s no reason not to do yoga,” she said.
“Whether you’re deepening your spiritual experience, improving your golf swing, or keeping off that extra five pounds, yoga can benefit you in some way.”
For details on registration, schedule, lodging packages and other information, visit the Telluride Yoga Festival website at tellurideyogafestival.com.