Lose Yourself to Dance: The India Yoga Festival

This year something profound happened to me at the India Yoga Festival. It wasn’t one of those “Aha!” moments of sudden revelation. Rather it was a subtle rising within my consciousness, a reaction to all the positive energy congregating in one place. So many infectious, smiling faces. So many friends joyfully reunited. Warm embraces and hearty salutations! And none of the pretense of trying to impress anyone, no posturing within the everyday social hierarchy.

Yoga and festivals, what's not to like?  Photo courtesy of Wari Om.

Yoga and festivals, what’s not to like? Photo courtesy of Wari Om.

The festival was a chance to become fully immersed in the practice of living in the moment without inhibitions. Few other places can you find someone with their eyes closed to the world, simply shaking their body in the middle of a field of grass, and not be judged by those around them. Even fewer places will you see others spontaneously join in this shaking with abandon, leaving their self-consciousness to stare on in disbelief as the body does something considered ‘abnormal’. That feeling of confronting your inhibitions, shedding them, and then doing whatever ‘weird’ thing you feel like doing is incredibly empowering. In these moments, we begin to feel like we are living for ourselves. We are no longer living for the impression of ourselves that we are creating for others.


Check out this video a friend made from the festival.

I am especially moved by the power of music and there was no shortage of great musicians (like Bittu Mallick and the loin cloth wearing Rainbow Marcus) at the evening Kirtans. With nearly 60 people sitting down and singing along, the pace of the mantras, the intricate beat of the tablas, the vibrations of the universe began to rise. An Indian man with long black hair and thick-rimmed glasses rose up and began to dance around. A few moments later a woman in a lavender top with curly brown ringlets and a beaming smile joined him.

Rainbow Marcus grooves out on any instrument.  Photo courtesy of Wari Om.

Rainbow Marcus grooves out on any instrument. Photo courtesy of Wari Om.

And as I felt this rising energy, I realized there was no point in resisting the pull of the universe. No point in denying to myself that I wanted to give shape to these positive vibrations. With a whooping “Ayyyeeee!” I rose to my feet and began grooving to the music. My friends Ari and Gabs quickly followed suit and it felt like we were dancing not from our feet but from our souls. Like a smile spreading amongst a group of friends, the pull of the dance became infectious. By the next chorus everyone in attendance was on their feet, swaying to the beat, singing from somewhere deep inside themselves, numerous voices merging into one harmonious vibration.

Without inhibitions, without judgments without that pestering self-analyzing going on I felt truly empowered. As if I could jump up towards the heavens and will myself into outer space, nothing on earth holding me back. And I realized that which is usually holding me back from doing anything my heart desires is my own self, my fears and doubts. My worrying about how others will perceive what I am doing, if it is ‘cool’ enough. In this moment I was finished with posturing, with letting my head dictate my actions instead of my heart. This feeling has persisted for the past week as I am more cognizant of the motivation behind my actions, and they are starting to come from a deeper place within myself. A source of greater truth, unmuddled by the expectations of others.

Be weird. Be unique. Be the most ‘you’ that you can be. One of my favorite musicians Michael Franti croons, “All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.” I don’t want to see your perfectly applied mascara. I’d rather see it streak down your face following the sweat of your frantic, exuberant dance. I want to see your real beauty reflected in your liberated smile. And if you start to shake it out in the middle of the room, I want to be infected by your freakiness and shake alongside you.

I want to ride this wave of positivity from the festival, I want to surrender to its force, and I want to sing and dance whenever and wherever I feel the vibrations rising in my heart.