[photos coming soon]
It is difficult to find a scene which compares to the serenity of the beach if one wishes to calm the mind, body and soul. Well, maybe a fat bong rip, but all the same the Santa Monica beach is infamously a den of tranquility for yuppies and yogis (one who practices yoga; not to be mistaken for a bear) alike yearning to enhance their calm.
Enter Tadasana fest (Ta-Da-Sauna), the first year of this soon to become annual gathering of yoga fanatics and new age music lovers, both of which there are plenty of on the Westside. While celebrity hippies and progressive musicians are abound along with the many intensive workshops and insightful lectures, we set out to discover what drives this emerging force of positive karma citizens. Why exactly does the yoga community have such a deep seeded desire for abundance in comparison to the average all-consuming Joe – to selflessly aid the community, local and abroad – what motivates the internal activism which manifests a cultural creative?
Not quite new age and far from hippies, this inclusive community is not rooted in spirituality, although many practice Taoism, Buddhism, Atheism, Christianity, and beyond. Allegedly improving external society begins with improving the internal self, seemingly the focal point of yoga; when coupled with optimal healthy eating it seems like a recipe for universal improvement. Who is to say what is selfish and what is selfless, be it wanton acts of hedonism or the mental masterbatory act of blogging… oops!
The festival goes from sunrise to sundown and classes run concurrently within six separate tents on the parking lot adjacent to the beach, in addition to one tent set up for lectures, The Daily Love. The vendor village is outside of the actual festival, giving regular beach goers the opportunity to check out the organic clothing and health foods. A great variety of classes exist, from simple meditation to yoga stretches to dance parties and a holistic rave.
Let’s talk about the holistic rave class for a moment. Seeing this on the schedule, you know I couldn’t pass it up. This is a group of about 100 men, woman, and children coming together under the instruction of two teachers to throw off their inhibitions without the use of intoxicants. Fabian Alsutany played a good variety of music during the course of this two hour class, from buckets of energy to bedside tranquility, all flowing with the class speakers. Students are encouraged to dance whimsically, sensually, and just plain silly. (“Put your arms out and pretend you are an airplane like when you were 6 years old!”) Finally, everyone is bid to mug and kiss everyone else, opening the floodgates of love (and sexual harassment). The genuine smiles don’t come unglues during the entire course – all of this with no intoxicants other than the mojo of love.
The music portion of the festival is second to the spotlighted yoga. Many of the performers play alongside class instructors and play in several classes throughout the day. Fabian Alsutany is among the headliners, dishing out the aural tofu – both good for you and adaptive to its surroundings. Chebb I Sabbah is another brilliantly forward thinking musician and DJ performing very unique sets every day at Tadasana after his inspiration triumph over cancer. (watch out for our upcoming video interview with Chebb I!) DJ Drez played some great sets, also very receptive to feeling the crowd. Earthrise Soundsystem and WAH! Both bring the impromptu jam sessions to energize any yoga class with live percussions and strings respectively. What makes all of these musicians so talented is their keen ability to flow with the vibe of the crowd, be it yoga or a dance party.
The talks variety greatly. Many were about the benefits of organic and holistic nutrition and there were just as many motivational and inspirational speakers in attendance. Surprisingly enough, not every lecture ended in a sales pitch; people seemed genuinely interested in touching people’s lives and planting the seeds of social change.
Vendors came from all over the states to sling their organic hippies wares. Mostly woman’s clothing, suitable for yoga and made with no harm to the environment. Health foods and nutritional supplements, showing the world that raw vegan food can actually be made tasty. Some booths consist of charities such as Off The Mat, a nonprofit who hosts the Global Seva Challenge, working towards liberating human trafficking in India, as well as leadership training. Again, I am reminded of the godly state the yogis which to achieve by self and social improvement.
And so, my search for the M.O. of these yogis brings me to a tent with a cryptically convenient banner, “ORIGIN”. Just celebrating their one year anniversary, Origin is a yoga culture magazine available nationwide, not surprisingly, at Whole Foods. It also highlights the contributions to society practicing celebrity yogis have made on every continent. Thumbing through the pages, I chatted with the founders of the bi-monthly magazine. While some articles depict celebrities on their slippery soap boxes preaching their own self interests, many fresh yoga teachers within the community had been involved in charitable movements their entire life. In fact, many do yoga for the sake of doing yoga. They brag to their friends about the benefits of “being centered” and how good they look naked. For others, however, the inverse of our thesis is true. Those who feel like they have a commitment to society; those who can’t help but endeavor to actively better the world around them; for those who lust for a reality that more closely resembles what a fair reality ought to be, these people often discover yoga later in life and learn the tools to improve themselves in between acts of social improvement. What is the underlying force at work here which drives all of these cases? At the risk of sounding cheesy, the answer is a genuine love for all things.
Yoga won’t make you a better person. It might make your ass hotter, although it’s not difficult to look good in super stretchy pants. If the agony of the downtrodden motivates you to be a better person, and to cultivate a better community, and if you aren’t quite sure where to start, then one could do a lot worse than turning to yoga. Tadasana Festival is full of worldly inspiration, and since the first year was such a smash hit, there are certain to be many to come.