Category Archives: Festivals

Interviews with organizers and/or featured participants

welcoming good fortune… and saying goodbye


January 23, 2013

This week’s topic: Welcoming Good Fortune… and Saying Goodbye

Cora Wen, yoga instructor
Heather Askinosie, co-founder of Energy Muse Jewelry
Timmi Jandro, co-founder of Energy Muse Jewelry
Suzanne Bryant, yoga instructor and filmmaker of “Yoga Is”
C.C. White, musician

Featured Music:
Wandering with Shyam, DJ Drez feat. Marti Nikko
Arati Kunja, Shyamdas
The Song of Sweetness, Shyamdas
Shri Krishna Govinda, Shyamdas with Jai Uttal, Krishna Das & Friends

* * * * * * * *



yoga and social awareness


September 26, 2012

This week’s topic: Yoga and Social Awareness

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Johannes Fisslinger, president of Yoga Health Foundation
Julie Kundert, yoga instructor and founder of The Ahimsa Festival
David Ezekiel, yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Conservation Alliance

Featured Music:
Nirvana Shatakam (Shivo’ham), Blue Spirit Wheel
Gurudeva Bol, Jaya Lakshmi
Eastern Promise, Dave Cipriani
Jaya Sita Ram, Geoffrey Gordon

* * * * * * * *

i’m on deadline with the magazine, and free time is a precious commodity i don’t have at the moment. so the blog post will be delayed until tomorrow. but it’s coming, i promise.

by the way, i’ve chosen this photo because i’m in it. and from what i’ve been told, i’m easy to find 🙂

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

most yoga students think that yoga is all about the union of mind, body, and spirit — as in one’s mind with one’s body and one’s spirit.  but it’s more than just that; yoga is the union of one’s mind/body/spirit with that of every other being, whether it be a loved one, a neighbor, or someone clear across town. or even across the world. it’s right there in patanjali’s yoga sutras. want proof? click here to read more about it.

since this is the last week of yoga month, i thought it’d be appropriate to talk about how we can go about uniting ourselves with the rest of the world through social awareness.

i reached out to johannes fisslinger, one of the forces behind national yoga month and yoga recess, whose mission it is to bring yoga to children in their classrooms. i also invited julie kundert to talk about the upcoming ahimsa festival she produced to promote awareness about domestic violence and to raise funds to support the valley cares family justice center. and since all beings aren’t just humans but also all living creatures, i asked david ezekiel to talk about the yoga conservation alliance he created to support wildlife conservation.

by the way, many yoga studios around the country are offering a FREE week of yoga for new students. click here to find out more about this offer that ends in early october.

the ahimsa festival will be held at the park plaza hotel in los angeles on sunday, october 14th. click here to buy tickets or to make a donation.

julie kundert’s a yoga teacher but i forgot to ask her where she teaches, so i looked up her facebook page. you can catch her at various places in the conejo valley: yogaworks in westlake village, bodysattva in thousand oaks, and yoga upstairs and agoura power of yoga in agoura hills.

david ezekiel teaches all over the place, too, but on the westside: updog yoga in west hollywood, corepower yoga and maha yoga in brentwood, and santa monica power yoga in santa monica.

the music is an eclectic compilation from CDs i’d picked up along the way – at bhakti fest, from the musicians themselves, or both.

in keeping with the theme of awareness of the plight of others, i wanted to share a facebook fundraiser for a beloved brother in the kirtan community, geoffrey gordon:

As many of you may know, our beloved Geoffrey left his body on September 4th at 9:40 p.m. from a massive heart attack.

Geoffrey was returning home to Santa Fe from Sedona, where he had just received a standing ovation for one of his most exceptional percussion solos. Geoffrey was in a state of bliss throughout the entire weekend and shared his light and love with everyone.

We will miss him deeply.

Contributions to assist in the funeral and memorial expenses and to subsidize other financial needs can be given to his wife, Sandra Gordon, in memory of Geoffrey Gordon.

in his honor, i’ve chosen to end the show with a song from his album, breath of rama. one more beautiful voice has joined the great kirtan band in heaven.

(please excuse the hoarse voice and scattered brain… i was coming down with a cold and was feeling under the weather when this show was recorded.)

fall festival fever!


September 12, 2012

This week’s topic: Fall Festival Fever!

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Janet Marley, co-producer of Pranafest
Jesse Shannon, Director of Marketing and Communications at Rise & Shine Gathering
Shunyam, producer of Boston Yoga and Chant Fest

Featured Music:
Hari Om Nararayan, SuryaChandra
Gayatri Mantra, Breath of Life Tribe
Damhama Dam Ali (Ali is in Every Breath), Fanna-Fi-Allah
Jai Ma, Swami Mangalananda

* * * * * * * *

it wasn’t that long ago when attending a yoga workshop taught by a celeb yoga teacher was something to look forward to. or maybe even having a big-name wallah like krishna das or jai uttal lead a kirtan at your local yoga studio.

in time, someone came up with the great idea of not only merging yoga with music, but also curating an impressive line-up of yoga teachers and musicians and setting the whole thing atop a mountain or on the beach — and tada! the yoga and music festival was born.

omega ecstatic chant, wanderlust festival, bhakti fest. their producers all hoped to catch the attention of yogis in search of something new, something exciting, something different. and succeed they did.

maybe it’s just because i spend a good chunk of my time keeping abreast of all things yoga, but it seems like just this past year, yoga festivals have now sprouted up not just all over the country but even around the world. and they continue to draw large crowds of eager attendees.

it kinda makes you wonder why — are regular yoga classes becoming too ho-hum? are yoga retreats losing their excitement? are yogis feeling the need to amp up their yoga practice by adding in the destinations AND the celeb yoga teachers AND the big-name kirtan musicians?  is this just a fad? in other words, are yoga aficionados going to continue to be willing to pay $200-$300 for a weekend of yoga and music, not to mention the associated travel and lodging expenses?

as they say, only time will tell.

in the meantime, with all these yoga+music events cropping up across the country, it’s getting easier — and more affordable, at least travel-wise — to partake in the yoga festival experience, even if it’s for a shorter period of time with fewer big-name yoga teachers and musicians.

so this week, in my continuing focus on yoga month and all things yoga, i’ve decided to invite representatives from two first-time yoga festivals (pranafest in ashland OR and rise & shine gathering in santa susana CA) as well as a fledgling local one (boston yoga and chant fest in weston MA) to talk about their events on the show. we’ll talk about the when, the where, and the why. maybe even the how.

while researching upcoming fall festivals, i came across others such as the dallas yoga conference and music fest on september 14-16, the divine play acroyoga festival in san francisco on october 12-14, and the austin yoga festival on october 27-28. they’re all worthy of attention, but i could only squeeze in so many. plus some reached out to me, which always helps 🙂

i’d just spent the past weekend at bhakti fest, the granddaddy of them all as far as kirtan line-ups, and while there, i picked up some new CDs from groups i’d never heard of before, including: suryachandra from nova scotia, fanna-fi-allah from nevada city, and swami mangalananda from omkareshwar in india*. i also picked up a new pre-release CD from the breath of life tribe here in LA. it just so happens that some of these groups will be performing at the yoga festivals i’ll be highlighting, which is a perfect enough reason to play their music. the breath of life tribe will be at pranafest, fanna-fi-allah will be at rise & shine, and swami mangalananda will be at boston chant. and while suryachandra isn’t scheduled to be at any festival any time soon, we can only hope they will be.

* swami mangalananda’s chant is just one of many included in the compilation CD, ‘chants for the divine mother.’ proceeds from the sale of the album will help fund the running of the omkareshwar school in central india. to find out more about the school and buy a copy of the CD, click on this link: sri mata anandamayi ashram.

during the show, jesse shannon from the rise & shine gathering generously offered to give away TWO weekend passes to their premiere event. at this point, we’re still working out the details and rules, so stay tuned for updates!

*** update: thanks to my guests for their generous ticket deals for listeners! ***

from pranafest in ashland, OR on sept 28-30:

Enter now for your chance to win a FREE 3-day pass to Pranafest (, the new Northwest festival featuring an all-star lineup of kirtan leaders and yoga teachers at an idyllic natural hot springs retreat center and spa in Ashland, Oregon.

Enter by SUNDAY Sept 23rd, and watch your inbox or the Pranafest Facebook page to see if you’ve won!  Earn an extra entry for each of your facebook friends who also enters the contest from a link you can share with them.

Click here to enter the ticket give-away contest

Click here to purchase tickets

from the rise and shine gathering in santa susana, CA on oct 19-21:

We have created a discount code for the Yoga Chat audience!

Enter the discount code ayogist on the Rise & Shine purchase page in all lowercase with no spaces

Code provides 10% off all ticket levels, including weekend passes, day passes, and Lotus Experience packages.

And we’re giving away TWO 3-day weekend passes with on-site camping passes!

To enter,

1. “Like” the Rise and Shine Gathering facebook page.

2. “Like” the Yoga Chat page.

3. Post a comment in the comments section below describing what your ideal festival experience would be – teachers you’ll take classes with, workshops you’ll attend, music you’ll listen to, maybe even friends you’ll go with!

4. For an extra entry, tweet that you’ve entered the contest and make sure you mention @rnsgathering and @yogachat so we know that you did!

4. ONE winner will be picked at random and will win a pair of passes worth $570! Good luck!

from the boston yoga and chant fest in medford, MA on oct 20-21:

Listeners can enter discount code meetup on and receive $25 off a weekend pass for the festival.

sex, science, and self-transformation


August 29, 2012

This week’s topic: Sex, Science, and Self-Transformation

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Lorin Roche, meditation teacher and author of “The Radiance Sutras”
William Broad, science journalist and author of “The Science of Yoga”
Meredith LeBlanc, yoga instructor and co-founder of Twitter Yoga Book Club

Featured Music:
Radha Ramana Haribol, The Kirtaniyas
Shri Ma Goddess Kirtan, Govindas
Jai Sri Radhe, The Mayapuris
Hare Krishna, Temple Bhajan Band

* * * * * * * *

i still can’t over the fact that august is just about over.

and what a busy month it was! — two back-to-back yoga festivals (moksha and the south bay yoga conference), a week-long stint at the KCRW pledge drive, evenings under the stars at the hollywood bowl, kirtans too many to remember, an art-inspired bike tour around santa monica, a backyard wedding attended by the movers and shakers of the westside yoga scene. and that’s not even counting the yoga classes i took. or wished i did.

with an eye to september, which happens to be national yoga month, and the upcoming labor day holiday, an inner voice told me that i needed to focus the show on different aspects of yoga and how it can be practiced at one’s leisure… which then led me to the topic of yoga books. but with all the yoga books currently on the market, which ones would i feature? hmmm…

two of the officiants at the wedding i attended (of the FOUR who married the couple!) were lorin roche and his wife camille. and their contribution to the celebration was a reading of one of the passages from lorin’s book, “the radiance sutras“. it was loving, and sensual, and joyous. who knew that ancient sanskrit texts could still be so relevant? it also happens that lorin will be leading a radiance sutra workshop at bhakti fest next week, so he made my short list of authors to contact.

sometime mid-august, william broad, author of the controversial (at least in the yoga community)  “the science of yoga” and the new york times article “how yoga can wreck your body“, tweeted about the upcoming release of the paperback version of his book. and i realized that i’d wanted to interview him on the show when the book was first released and never got around to it (yes, i tend to procrastinate. a lot). so i tweeted back that i wanted to interview him and he tweeted back that he was happy to; all i needed to do was send him an email request. so i did. and voila! he’s on the show.

there was another author i reached out to who couldn’t make it… and who will remain nameless until he’s available to be on a future show. yup, a cliffhanger.

short one guest, i reached out to meredith leblanc and her cohorts in the yoga book club — via twitter, of course — figuring that this would be the perfect time for a #YOBC update. she was happy to step in at the last minute and fill us in on the virtual group’s latest book, “fierce medicine” by ana forrest.

now for the music.

last week’s musical treats were all new releases from musicians who’ll be at bhakti fest next week. and they were all kirtans with a contemporary twist. so to provide some balance to my coverage of the bhakti fest kirtan offerings, i decided to include the more “traditional” musicians. i found quite a few in my CD collection: arjun baba, gaura vani, prema hara, SRI kirtan, govindas and radha, temple bhajan band, the kirtaniyas, and the mayapuris. while they’re all notably talented and inspirational, i had to limit myself to those with tracks that were short enough for radio play. all i can say is that if you want to hear the longer versions, you have to go to bhakti fest to experience them in their entirety. and yup, that was a plug. 🙂

it’s bhakti fest time again!


August 22, 2012

This week’s topic: It’s Bhakti Fest Time Again!

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Sridhar Silberfein, Executive Producer of Bhakti Fest
Phil Goldberg, author of “American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West”
Parvati, musician

Featured Music:
Hari Om Shiva Om (Cheb I Sabbah Desi Remix), Deva Premal
Gayatri, Benjy Wertheimer & John de Kadt
Sri Ram Jai Ram, Prajna Vieira & Ben Leinbach
Sunlight, MC Yogi
Lokah, Parvati
Unity, Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band

* * * * * * * *

since this was to be my second annual bhakti fest show (it feels special to be able to use the term “annual” since i’ve now been on the air for over a year), i wanted to focus on things that weren’t covered in last year’s show.  in that episode, i had bhakti fest emcee shiva baum in the studio with me; we chatted with musicians ben leinbach, sirgun kaur, and moose ali khan and played their music plus much more from other bhakti fest musicians. my plans were a bit too ambitious — we went way over time and spanned almost two hours!

this time, thanks to a fortuitous meeting at krishna das’s workshop at bhakti yoga shala last week, i managed to snag the uber-busy sridhar silberfein, executive producer of the festival. with the promo flyer in hand, we went over the list of teachers, speakers, and musicians who’d be there and the wheels were set in motion.

i decided to focus on the people i knew nothing about. and i was surprised to find out that there were quite a few of them! after a bit of research, i reached out to some and landed two with very interesting stories to tell: phil goldberg, who’d authored a book on the influence of traditional indian spirituality on modern western culture, and parvati, who’d created a yoga/dance/music blend called yoga in the nightclub. if anyone ever thought that a festival focused on bhakti was too woo-woo for them, these guests would quickly change those perceptions!

as for the music, it was clear to me that if i wanted to highlight was new this year, i had to feature music that was new. so i rummaged through my kirtan CD collection and picked out albums that were released this year. among them were:

– deva premal, “deva lounge” (sounds true)

– benjy wertheimer and john de kadt, “one river” (mantralogy)

– prajna vieira and ben leinbach, “amrita” (mantralogy)

– MC yogi, “pilgrimage” (white swan records)

i also found a new song (actually a video) from sean johnson and the wild lotus band that was on their website, so since they had created an indiegogo page to raise the money to produce their next album, i thought it rated a play on the show. here’s that video:

moksha festival highlights


June 27, 2012

This week’s topic: Moksha Festival Highlights

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Dave Stringer, musician
Dr. Siva Mohan, ayurvedic practitioner
Mark Whitwell, yoga instructor

Featured Music:
Govinda Jaya Jaya, Dave Stringer
Tribal Nam, Marti Walker
Hari’s Rapture (Radha Ramana Hari Bol), Jai Uttal

* * * * * * * *

i recently landed myself a small gig helping to promote the moksha festival this coming august, so i thought: why not dedicate an entire show to the highlights of the festival? of course, i’d already done that for last year’s event, but as long as all the guests were different, it would be an entirely different show, right?

so i looked at the list of yoga teachers, musicians, and speakers, crossed out those whom i’d already interviewed on previous episodes, and started sending out feelers to find people who could call in to the show.

long story short, i got hold of dave stringer (whom i’d run into at the city yoga studio city AND lululemon studio city grand opening parties), dr. siva mohan of svastha health in long beach (who had reached out to me sometime ago and i’d finally gotten around to inviting her to join me on the show), and mark whitwell (whom i’d run into at lightning in a bottle and who had just published his new book, “the promise of love, sex, and intimacy“).  hmmmm….

considering how moksha was a yoga+music festival, i’d figured that i’d have a wealth of  music to choose from, but strangely, most of the musicians, while relatively well-known here in the LA kirtan scene, haven’t released any albums. at least not yet. so i started off with music from the festival headliners — dave stringer and jai uttal — and started picking and choosing from among the CDs i had from marti walker, govindas and radha, momo loudiyi, emy berti, dan blanchard, and the breath of life tribe. needless to say, i couldn’t fit them all in; but then again, there’s more than a month to go between now and the actual festival. so they’ll all get air play, sooner or later. in fact, all of them have already been played on this show. so there. 🙂

except for some sound level problems i seemed to have on the callers’ end (which forced me to crank up their volume in the edited version of the podcast), the show went well and i thoroughly enjoyed all the conversations i had with my guests. i was mesmerized while listening to dave’s story about how saul david raye (who’ll be teaching at moksha) produced his first album, siva’s story about how she integrates her medical school background with her ayurvedic training, and mark’s story about how yogic breathing can improve your sex life. how, you ask? read the book!

i kept glancing at the clock, wondering if i could buy myself more time. and i eventually realized that i’d completely used up not just the allotted interview time but also the time i’d set aside for some music. which is why i ended up with just three songs this show. but i’m sure the witty repartee more than made up for it (you don’t agree? then maybe YOU should be a guest on the show!).

as far as the meaning of the lyrics to marti walker‘s “tribal nam”, i found a website with the lyrics and their meaning: hari haraye namah.

silly me mentioned this blog at the end of the show but forgot to provide the url. if you’re reading this, you’ve obviously figured out what it is!

i’ll look into getting the links for the groupon and goldstar deals that i talked about during the show and post them here. so stay tuned.


here’s the link to the groupon deal: Up to 51% off a One-Day or Two-Day Festival Pass (deal available until midnight 6/30 or sold out)

and here’s the link to the goldstar deal: 50% off the Sacred Music Pass (deal available until sold out)

bhakti in the heartland


June 6, 2012 – Bhakti in the Heartland

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Taz Rashid, Bhakti Fest Midwest Street Team Coordinator
Pascale LaPoint, musician
Ragani, musician

Featured Music:
Hare Krishna (Preston Klik Remix), Devi 2000
Guru Kripanjana, Dave Stringer & Kim Waters
Om Narayana, Brenda McMorrow
Gajaananaa, Kirtan Path
Vishnu 360, Ragani
Hare Om Shivaya, Michael Cohen

* * * * * * * *

it was monday, and with just two days to go before air date, i still had no idea what i was going to cover on this week’s show.

i checked my go-to source of inspiration — facebook — and saw a note on the yoga chat page from pascale lapoint, a member of the bhakti fest midwest street team. scheduled to be held june 29th through july 1st, the festival in madison, wisconsin was just three weeks away. it sounded like the perfect time to highlight this first-time event, so i asked pascale if she would be available for an interview on the show. not only was she available, but she could also get the street team coordinator, taz rashid, to call in, too. perfect!

after scanning the kirtan line-up for the event, i realized that there were many midwest-based musicians set to take the stage, among them dave stringer (wisconsin), ragani (wisconsin), mike cohen (michigan), pascale lapoint’s kirtan path (minnesota), devi 2000 (illinois), and even brenda mcmorrow (ontario – which technically isn’t in the USA, but just across the water from michigan and wisconsin). hmmm… wouldn’t it be nice to score an interview with another musician? i’d always wanted to meet ragani; at the last minute, i got her to agree to join me on the show. sweet!

ragani was nice enough to send me radio edits of some of her newer music, so along with that and the other tracks i had on CDs, on itunes, and on the internet, i had more than enough music to fill a show.

the plan was to go heavy on the music and light on the talk. it didn’t quite happen that way; as usual, we talked too much 🙂

for those of you who want to participate in ragani’s kirtan video, the deadline to submit your video is june 30th. here’s the link with instructions: worldwide virtual kirtan. and here’s the video. have fun!