This fall, Elena Brower was one of 19 yoga instructors asked to teach at the 2011 International Ojai Yoga Crib in Ojai, California (along with fellow Gaiam blogger Jill Miller). In this photo essay, Elena shares her experience at this life-affirming event.
Erich Schiffman provided the most brilliant context for the Love and Light that is the Ojai Yoga Crib in his opening night talk. He shared that we are tasked to watch who populates our inner world, and that we must name them appropriately, “brother” or “sister.” Anyone who lives in our thoughts — our parents, our kids, our colleagues — all brother or sister on this Earth. We felt that truth, and I’m still sharing it with anyone who will listen.
Mijanou Montealagre and Courtney Grueschow (Anoushka Shankar’s sitar player) were my wing-women angel Goddess force field; Kira Ryder was the most incredible host, now my friend for good. And, of course, the sky was quite blue!
Both of my classes were here, on this mountaintop overlooking the valley and staring into the faces of other mountains. Wherever we rested our eyes, we landed on the soothing green of the leaves or the luminosity of the blue, blue sky. Or, in the case of this photo, the beneficence of the rays of the sun.
All around the Crib venues were gorgeous white gauze prayer flags, decorated by attendees of previous Cribs who’d organized prayer circles in their hometowns and decorated each flag with sweet, juicy artwork. This one speaks for itself.
In 1999, I used to come to Los Angeles to study with the teachers who were defining the yoga for the coming decade. Among them was Saul David Raye, who continues to pave a path of such authenticity in our community through his offerings of asana, ritual, movement, dance, song and true Heart. Saul is devotion to Mother Earth, personified.
Just the most perfect image of a typical sighting in Ojai. Magic really does abound there — everywhere we turned was the perfect turn of events, from the brilliant glimpses of Nature to the most exalted expression of nourishment through food, or hugs or yoga practice. I know it sounds excessive; but it’s exactly how Ojai presented herself to me. And yes, I’m teaching there next year, and for years to come.
This smile reflects the Love, sensations of service, belief in myself, my teachers, and the practices that I recovered and redefined on this trip. Thank you, Mijanou of Mystic Mamma, for being my wingman and bringing this Bhakti baby back to life.
And thank you, Mijanou, for this awesome vignette of the weekend. Feels like a vision board for the whole year to come.