Culture Shift~ Yoga in West Virginia​

Last week, I traveled to West Virginia to play, perform and teach at my first Yoga Festival!

 

The Mountains for West Virgina 

Yep, it was an awesome experience! Wanderlust Snowshoe in West Virginia was a beautiful event. We had instant rapport with staff and artists on our ride up from Pittsburgh to Snowshoe setting the tone for a wonderfully inclusive experience over the weekend. I found the festival participants so gracious and appreciative of the music, education and experience I brought to the classes and performances. It was a lot of fun to customize the blend of traditional Indian raaga and contemporary sounds of the album to match the tone of each yoga class, enhancing their experience on the mat.

 

I wasn’t always keen on playing at Yoga festivals, mainly because of my own bias on how I experienced the Yoga community in Los Angeles;  like the portrayal of yoga as fitness and fashion & cultural appropriation of Indian traditions, such as wearing bhindis and Henna as “temporary tattoos”.  When I was growing up in Southern California I was made fun for just being Indian, asking me what tribe I was from, mocking the food I would bring to school, having Henna on my hands from my Indian classical dance performance. Then all of a sudden in high school it became popular and trendy to wear bhindis and Henna, using Sari as decor materials, displaying Hindu deities on t-shirts, kirtan as the signature representation of Indian music in the yoga scene and the list goes on.

 

 

While I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years, I stayed on the periphery of what felt like a yoga scene.

AND, at the same time, I may not have had the opportunity to practice as a young woman, since in my family “only boys are allowed” to practice Yoga (unless you are married and your husband give you permission ;)  As an American woman, I have had the privilege to set my own conditions and terms for my spiritual practice, to choose and decide what is right for me.

 

Over the last 10 years my practice expanded from Yoga as asana and meditation to include Naada yoga & Shabda yoga – Sound yoga. I have cultivated my music through the container of yoga, as sound healing with classical Indian music as a strong foundation.

 

As a musician I have been committed to bringing authenticity to the culture of Yoga, particularly in the west and what has now expand back into India.

In 2010 I was encouraged by my friends to bring my voice and sound to the surface. I decided it was time to stop judging and embrace the open container of transformational community where I could make an impact in bringing authenticity and having impact in how we respect traditions and culture.

 

Teaching and performing at Snowshoe as my first Yoga festival was empowering and  healing of any residue bias I held onto when I was younger. I worked alongside teachers like Kia Miller and Yotam Agam who have decades of learning, practice and experience with Yoga and Indian culture. They were both so loving and gracious in their authentic approach to the practice. I also felt embraced what I was bringing in my musical expression and vocal education.

 

So this brings me into a full circle, creating a new experience of witnessing Yoga in the west,  beyond the fitness or diluted trends, I find authenticity and receptiveness to the art and science of Yoga lineages. As I align with my own purpose of self-expression and devotion through music, I come into gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to an audience who is ready to receive, listen and practice with me.

 

PRIYA deepika

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