Reporting Live from the Bali Spirit Festival! | Robin Sparks

Reporting Live from the Bali Spirit Festival!

Tri Hita Karana
3 Balinese words that symbolize the heart of the Bali Spirit Festival:
Harmony with God, Harmony in Community, Harmony with Nature

Masters of ceremony, Amsalan Doraisingam and Teresa Hererra, kick off the opening night ceremony

Masters of ceremony, Amsalan Doraisingam and Teresa Hererra, kick off the opening night ceremony

Ketut, owner of Tutmak Restaurant and Joe, local musician

Ketut, owner of Tutmak Restaurant and Joe, local musician

Charlie and Stacy from California

Charlie and Stacy from California

Food prepared "Balinese offering style" on biodegradeable platters
Today's Sun Salutations

Today's Sun Salutations

Renowned yogini, Katy Appleton, in this morning's kick off Yoga Mala

Renowned yogini, Katy Appleton, in this morning's kick off Yoga Mala

Yogi, Mark Whitwell gives hands on instruction to festival participant

Yogi, Mark Whitwell gives hands on instruction to festival participant

It’s official. The 2nd annual Bali Spirit Festival is under way!
A vibrant, uplifting and diverse festival of yoga, dance and music which awakens and nourishes each individual’s potential for positive change within our world.

Festival Vision
*We honour, respect and promote the power of the saccred arts of yoga, dance and music.
*We champion the collaborative power of the global creative community with Bali.
*We strive to strengthen the ecological health and harmonious vitality of Bali and the cultural vibrancy of Indonesia.

Opening night, Tuesday April 28, 2009 –

I park my Yamaha motorcycle with hundreds of others feeling like I’ve arrived at an outdoor rock concert in California. Except that this is different. This is Bali.

For one thing, most everyone I know on the island is here. Claude from France, Rama from Venezuela, Glenn from New York, Orly from Tel Aviv, Marie from Sweden, Charley and Stacey from California, Ketut from Ubud, Bill from Australia, Paula from Singapore, and more. Each of us arrived in Bali once upon a time on holiday – and stayed. Why? Because we are better here than we were at “home” – and a big thank you to the Balinese who so graciously share their island and spiritually-infused lifestyle with us.

Locals, young and old stand to one side, watching us curiously. The air is balmy, the dress, tropical casual: shorts, sleeveless shirts, tevas, and long flowing sexy Goddess.

Attendees meander among the stalls of the Dharma fair, checking out handcrafted jewelry, hand-tailored clothing, and organic food and drinks. Eventually we make our way to the main stage, where we spread out on the grass. (Over 1000 tickets have been sold). Stars sparkle overhead throwing palm trees into silouette, and bamboo mats are spread out on the lawn.

Local dignitaries welcome the crowd onstage. Ketut, a Balinese healer, reminds us that we are much more than our physical bodies – which he compares to wrappers discarded on the side of the road (which is by the way far less common here than it was even 1 year ago). I Made Gunarta, co-founder and producer of the concert along with wife Meghan Pappenheim, welcomes us first in English and then in Bahasa Indonesia.

Pooja Bhantangar shimmers and shakes to haunting Indian music.

Rocky Dawuni, his waist length dreads swaying in the tropical air, performs fusion Reggae, Afro Beat.

Nick Woolsey spins fire, flames tossed into the air, spun round, streaking the night.

Larisa Stow and The Shakti Tribe huddle in prayer on a darkened stage preparing for will be the last performance of opening night. Lights, action! Lusty goddesses chant in Sanskrit, whipping the crowd into a spiritual fervor. Sofia Thom, ecstatic dancer,undulates stage right like the tantrika she is.

We are here not only to enjoy the music and the dance and to catch up with friends, but as part of a collective effort to be better than we were – yesterday, 15 minutes ago. It is about spotlighting the divine in everyone and celebrating it. It is dedication to living a life that supports and nourishes ourselves, every living being, community, and the planet.

Party on!
Your humble blog Gloddess,
Robin Sparks

Day One at the Balispirit festival, April 29, 2009:

I cycle through an outdoor Bali Hai movie set of rice paddies as the sun rises. Uniformed Balinese children fill the streets walking to school. The warm sun licks my bare shoulders. I pull over to the side of the road next to a football field where boys and girls in bright yellow uniforms fill the field like happy bees. I hear the deep resonant chanting that I often hear wafting on night air usually near temples. Incredibly enough, the sound, I discover, is coming from the coach who stands peacefully at the side of the field, the children buzzing around him. He wears a white flower behind his ear.

Right there on the side of the road, I speak into my voice recorder: Bali is beautiful without trying. So beautiful it hurts! In a good way of course. (-:

I climb back onto my bike and arrive at the festival in time for 8AM sun salutations guided by globally renowned yogis, Mark Whitwell, Ravi Vempati, Katy Appleton, and Uma Inder.

Eckhardt Tolle says actual consciousness cannot be defined in words. That consciousness is the space beyond and around thought. Awareness. Presence. A way of being that is beneficial to one’s self, to others, and the planet – in every walking moment.

Consciousness surrounds us here: Organic whole food served on biodegradeable banana leaves. Toilets that compost. Recycling bins everywhere. Integration of the local culture with the foreign. Friends hugging. Love. Lots of it. And gratitude to spare.

I join journalists in the media tent to speak with yogis Katy Appleton, Eoin Flinn, and Mark Whitwell.

Eoin, surfer, author, yogi, and a self-proclaimed “blissoligist” from Vancouver, says his temple is the ocean and that his students are regular people, many of them formerly entrenched in a life of work, consumerism and television.

Katy Appleton, answers a Balinese journalist who asks why we need yoga, that yoga liberates us. Helps us to define what binds us so that we can let it go. “Yoga asanas help you turn the noise down so that you can settle into a full feeling of abundance”, she says.

Mark Whitwell proclaims that there is a yoga practice for every person, young or old, religious or not, regardless of physical location, environment, or politics. He points out that the Islamic world has more yogis than anywhere in the world. “After all,” he said, “Muslims perform full body prayers five times a day.”

Speaking of Muslims, Pujiastuti Sindhu, from Bandung (near Jakarta) represents Muslim yoga practioners this week on Bali, an island of hinduism in the world’s largest Islamic country. Puji has been in the forefront of recent yoga fatwa debates across Indonesia and Malaysia.

Yogini, Pujiastuti Sindhu

Yogini, Pujiastuti Sindhu

She discovered yoga in a second hand bookshop seven years ago whereupon she began to practice yoga and within 5 years was teaching it herself. “Yoga softens the heart, lets it open up – and only with an open heart can we receive the truth,” she says. In spite of recent government “laws” which discourage Muslims from meditation and chanting as part of their yoga practice, she says that there are many headscarf-wearing, Muslim yoga teachers in Indonesia. She believes that Indonesia is already loosening its anti-yoga rhetoric.


So all you yogis, yoginis, dancers, musicians, wanna-be-in-Balians and already-in-Balians…that’s it for today. I am headed back to the festival to dance with the Goddess Tribe.

Your Bali Spirit Blog Gloddess,
Robin Sparks

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