How many yogis does it take to create a light bulb moment? Well, at last count there were some 45 yoga teachers involved in last weekend’s Byron Spirit Festival and most of the classes I looked in on were packed to the rafters.
So no wonder the energy in Mullumbimby last weekend belied the wet weather.
One teacher said she believed the rain was nature’s way of cleansing. Other, alternatively evolved spirits, were taking great pleasure in rolling in the mud. Most of the rest of us scurried from space to space, clutching umbrellas, with gumboots or bare feet the footwear of choice.
With so many yoga classes to choose from I was suffering a severe case of over-choice. So Harjiwan’s kundalini class titled ‘Tune up the nervous system and eliminate stress’ sounded just the tonic I needed.
There was barely room for another mat when I arrived at the Anglican Hall, which was fine, as I had forgotten to bring mine anyway.
The first part of the class was to sit and listen to a little parable Harjiwan read out: the story of a mule who falls into a well. When the farmer decides to simply bury the mule alive, the animal has other ideas. Shaking off each shovelful of dirt, he steps on up until, of course, he eventually steps right out of the well.
And shake it off we did too: by the end of an hour I felt like I had spent a night on the dance floor. With every part of my body tingling, I enjoyed the chance to dip into some lower key activities. Chanting and yoga nidra topped off the class nicely.
If you have ever had a kahuna massage you may, like me, have marvelled at the intuitive skills of the masseur. A million miles from the prodding and pummelling of a standard Swedish massage, kahuna is like being caressed by strong yet gentle ocean waves.
So I was excited about the opportunity to meet one of the goddesses of kahuna in Australia, Mette, whose High Spirits institute is well known around the country and the world.
We laughed our way through Mette’s class: she is a true teacher and a great guide as well as being something of a standup comedian.
We found ourselves effortlessly gazing into the eyes of strangers, practising ‘flying’ and laughing a lot. We discovered the seven principles of ‘huna’ philosophy, such as ‘all power comes from within’ and ‘to love is to be happy’. For once it seemed like human perfection might almost be within our grasp.
No we didn’t get a chance to practise any of the massage strokes – you need to do the week long course for that – but I certainly felt touched by Mette.
Sunday morning 8 o’clock seemed way too early to be scheduling a class called ‘orgasmic yoga’ – and so it proved for me. By the time I stumbled into the class about 10 minutes late people were already at the sharing stage.
The core concept of the work, as introduced by Deej and Una, is a combination of controlled, conscious breathing mixed with expressive movement and gentle, guided touch from a partner.
The aim is to unlock our bodies’ emotional armour and expand our capacity for both stimulation and relaxation.
I have done similar work in the past and it can have a profound effect. Doing it before my morning cup of coffee left me slightly tired but still thoroughly blissed out.
It was over my coffee and breakfast with Deej and Uma that they suggested I try what turned out to be my final class of the festival, titled ‘How to move your G-spot (for men and women) from the first chakra to the seventh chakra’.
The presenter, Margot Anand, is the self described ‘grandmother of tantra in the West’. She studied with Osho in the seventies and currently works with such household names as Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins.
Margot spoke about the coming together of science and tantric teaching on a number of levels but specifically about the importance of the pituitary gland, which aligns with the ‘third eye’ and ‘crown’ chakras of tantric philosophy.
Whereas most tantric traditions aim to ‘raise’ the kundalini energy from the ‘root’, Margot – true to the title of her workshop – chose to open the crown chakra directly. This was done with a combination of breathing, chanting, meditation and gentle touch.
The effect was remarkable. I left the workshop feeling exhausted but at the same time completely open. But doing any more classes that day was out of the question for me.
Later that evening I saw a bright light – literally – alas it was only a migraine descending, perhaps sweeping away all sorts of sloughed off stresses and tensions. When it left me, though, I did feel unusually calm and clear.
In answer to my cryptic opening question: it only takes one yogi to create a light bulb moment but of course you won’t know you’ve found them until you’ve become enlightened.