What Is Bhakti Fest?
While I’m sure you’ve heard of Wanderlust, Coachella, and the infamous Burning Man festivals, there’s a sweet, very special festival that is still not too well known yet, and it’s hidden in the deep, sacred desert of Joshua Tree, California: Bhakti Fest. Bhakti Fest is very special, and it’s unlike any other event you will ever attend. Here, everyone is dedicated to raising their vibrational states through yoga, chanting, mantra, dance, and connection. From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. And from the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.
I’m going to do my best to highlight the ‘must-have’ experiences if you decide to embark on this journey and attend Bhakti Fest in the future. (I hope you do!)
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Attend one of Dawn Cartwrights workshops
Dawn Cartwright is a tantra Goddess. If you’ve heard the term ‘tantra’ you probably have many predispositions about what this experience will be like. But I promise you, you have no idea what to expect unless you’ve experienced this before. Dawn Cartwright does an amazing job awakening one to love; whether that’s with another person, or simply with yourself. Give one of her workshops a try. I promise you won’t experience anything else like it.
Take a yoga class with Saul David Raye, Kia Miller, and Govindas and Radha
During my first time coming to Bhakti Fest in 2013, I took a class with these three different teachers, and every time I’ve returned I’ve continued to go back, time and time again. Each of these classes has something unique to offer.
Saul David Raye, with his melodic voice and grounding presence sweeps a sense of innate peace over the entire class and infuses you with his grounded energy. Kia Miller permeates your spirit with light and joy, as her kundalini teachings shake your soul to vibrate higher. And Govindas and Radha unite to bring a very sweet, gentle energy into their teachings, as Govindas teaches the yoga while Radha sings with her angelic voice in the background. If you come to Bhakti Fest to only experience one thing, I would recommend it to be one of these three classes.
Astrology session with Divine Harmony
If you’re like me, you love the stars and you’ve always been intrigued with the accuracy of your zodiac sign and what it means to you. Divine Harmony has been studying astrology for over 20 years, and she offers workshop courses every festival that go into depth about varying subjects in the world of the stars. You can read up on astrology with her blog, here.
Dance with Hemalayaa
If you love dancing, you need to come to this class. If you don’t love dancing, you need to come to this class even more because I promise you will learn to love to dance. Hemalayaa offers a unique class that infuses Bollywood dance, yoga, play, and laughter that is sure to leave you feeling happy and child-like. Each class I have gone to has been unique but has left me with the same feeling of joy. Definitely a must-have experience!
Take a trip into Joshua Tree National Park
While you’re recuperating between yoga sessions or just taking a break from the high energy of the festival, I recommend finding some time to escape into the national park that is only a short drive away from the festival grounds. The Joshua Tree National Park is unlike any other park I’ve ever been to — and I’ve been to a lot! Envision pink skies, massive granite boulders, and looming Joshua trees that can range up to 50 feet tall and this is what you’ll find in JTNP. I took my handy dandy Tenikle into the park with me and was able to capture some beautiful pictures. It’s a magical place that you won’t understand unless you visit.
Michael Brian Baker breath workshop / Dharma Devi breath workshop
If you’ve experienced working with your breath before, you understand how transforming and healing it can be. Both Michael Brian Baker and Dharma Devi offer unique workshops that take you through your breath towards healing, on both a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. It’s hard to describe with words what you’ll experience in these courses, so I’ll stop writing and simply encourage you to experience it for yourself.
Wander around alone
This is one of my favorite things to do at the Bhakti and Shakti Fest. There is so much to see, and so many people to meet. Only when you get out of your bubble of friends you came with will you become more open to new people and experiences. There have been many times when I’ve been wandering around the festival alone with wide eyes, and I’ve run into people and experiences that I never would have had if I had been with my group of comfort. My favorite experience from this year’s festival was stumbling into an adorable group of puppies! This is totally stereotypical for a ‘so-called-hippy’ festival, but the owner of one of the pups was feeding all of them lettuce. I thought this was so funny and random, and I also wondered if lettuce was an okay food for dogs consumption. Apparently, lettuce is really good for dogs!
Dance and sing under the kirtan tent
This is what the Bhakti Fest is really about; the kirtan. If you don’t know what kirtan is, here’s what Jai Uttal (one of my very favorite kirtan artists) has to say about it:
“These ancient chants,” says Jai “contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.”
There is something very sacred that occurs when we tap into the sacred prayer and chants of the Sanskrit language, and it is best accompanied with dancing! If you go under the main stage kirtan tent, you’ll find people dancing, singing, or simply enjoying themselves sitting in meditation.
Indulge in a Cacao ceremony with the Hanuman Project
Enter into this experience and you’ll be handed a cup full of warm cacao; a ceremonial beverage that has been known to invoke euphoric feelings, release negativity, and connect one to heart energy. (not to mention, it tastes amazing if you like dark chocolate). Here you’ll sip your cacao and engage in the call-and-response kirtan music that the Hanuman Project offers. Find yourself singing, dancing, and connecting into the heart center.
Must-Have Eats and Treats
Last but not least, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to eat at the festival. One of my favorite things about the Bhakti Fest are the different vendors that come to share their products. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Lydias: I eat here every day, sometimes for every meal. Lydia’s offers all organic, raw foods that taste amazing! If anyone has mastered making raw foods recipes that everyone will love, it’s Lydia’s. My go-to’s here are their raw power shake, the alkalizing green soup, and their famous ‘super burger’.
- Teechino: This is my go-to for breakfast. Teechino (or Teechia) has tasty alternatives to coffee, tea, and their nutrient dense cereals. I usually start my day by wandering over to this tent to get a bowl of their blueberry-date cereal that’s packed with chia seeds, flax seeds, amaranth, and more good stuff. They top off the bowls with greek yogurt and berries.
- Chagit: Although this isn’t a food or drink, it’s a shot of goodness that everyone needs in their lives. While I’m at the festival, I go over to this vendor tent every day to get a shot of their chaga-mushroom pressed juice, and it leaves me feeling energized, healthier, and all around better. I’ve recently joined their focus group which entails having a shot every day, and I’ve already seen such amazing results. The chaga mushroom has so many health benefits, which you can read about here.
- Raw Revelations: Stop by this vendor in the morning for a maca mocha, or come by at night to relax with their golden milk or heavenly hot chocolate. Each of their beverages is chuck full of nutrients and real ingredients, both of which are very important to me.
Again as I said at the beginning of this article, I can’t explain to you what you’ll experience at the Bhakti Fest, but if I know one thing for sure, it’s that you will be transformed. I hope you choose to embark on a new journey and take the leap of faith to find yourself at Bhakti Fest.
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