There’s A Lot More Going On But The Rent:
Where Is My Guru at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, C.O. with guests Elana Maggal, Conference Director and Lisa Rosof, champion of Yoga at the Beach, discusses how seva keeps her practice from becoming stagnant.
Friday, September 23, 2011: Wherever we go, we want you with us, listeners and lovers! Thus we’re here to share the experience of last Friday’s #WIMG show on Here Women Talk as Where is My Guru reported live from the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, C.O. Roving reporter and #WIMG founder and co-host Jessica Durivage shared her first time as an attendee while #WIMG partner-in-crime Diane Ferraro held it down back at the Guru fort. Listeners got the dish about what’s required to run this Grand Poobah of all yoga conferences, and how the conference organizers keep these events mindful and fresh, thanks to special guest Elana Maggal, Yoga Journal’s Conference Director. We discussed the “M” word and whether Elana would like to incorporate her theatrical training to include dressing as a large fire extinguisher while on-site. The fires can get pretty big behind the scenes at a conference, and someone’s gotta put them out.
Diane Ferraro: Ten years ago, yoga was just starting to get hot and heated, and Yoga Journal decides to launch this conference…
Elana Maggal: This particular conference had been running prior to my assuming the role as Conference Director. The Estes Park conference was the only conference at the time. I came on board and expanded the department to three conferences a year and now we do four conferences a year. It grew from a much smaller landscape. The whole landscape of yoga has changed so dramatically over the last ten years. It’s quite different now than it was ten years ago in so many ways.
Jessica Durivage: Do you find that working with such a large scale event among people that are striving to embody the yogic principles, it becomes easier for you to bring those to light in meetings? How do you wrap the conference around being Yoga Journal and embodying the yogic lifestyle, but still work to have sponsors, advertisers, and to make sure people are creating abundance for themselves while being here?
Elana Maggal: Clearly the yogic principles are very important, and a big part of what we do at Yoga Journal. By the same token, we’re also a business. The conference would not be here if it wasn’t for the commercial support we get from our sponsors and our advertisers. We are not a non-profit, we are a for-profit. People ask about that a lot, you know. “Are you selling out, is Yoga Journal selling out”? Well no, but without the support these conferences wouldn’t be possible.
Diane Ferraro: You bring up a good point: whether the words” business” and “yoga” feel aligned. It’s a tough one for people. We live in a capitalist society. Someone once said to me, while we were talking about money, “It’s the physical manifestation of prana.”.I said, “Yes! Thank you for giving me that reference point.”
Diane Ferraro: Can you share with us one of the most challenging things that you come across?
Elana Maggal: There are so many things that come up. Between working with some of the teachers, to working with the production, and things not arriving, planes not landing on time and people having to jump in. We plan. We spend weeks and months putting together grids and outlines. Then you get on site and someone doesn’t show up, or the sound doesn’t work properly, or we can’t find a rug for the Kirtan artist. There are so many different things. You have to roll with it and make the best of it. For me and my team, that’s where the yoga kicks in.
#WIMG also welcomed seva yogi Lisa Rosof to this show, the “grandmother of yoga along the Grand Strand”, and champion of Yoga at the Beach about her work in her hometown of Pawley’s Island, S.C. . Lisa’s mission, as she chose to accept it, is to bring wellness perspective and practices to the beautiful costal communities of South Carolina.
Jessica Durivage: Karma Yoga is the Yoga of service, and here at Where Is My Guru we’re really interested in exploring the Yogic principles and hope we can apply them to our daily lives. On the mat a lot of times we’re seeing how we can utilize the Yamas and the Niyamas, but then we go out into the world and we see how quickly we forget. I didn’t know if maybe you have another teaching or another limb, another principle that really came up as you were working through this project.
Lisa Rosof: The idea of being of service, in the end, for me is the most important step. It has revitalized my practice–it was kind of getting stagnant. I don’t know that there is another limb that comes to mind, but in terms of the Good Karma Yoga, and how it has impacted me, I knew that I needed to do something more. I know that my asana practice was starting to wane and feel less impactful in my life, and I knew that if I took what I know into the community, and gave back completely voluntarily, that I would receive something. I didn’t know what, and I didn’t know how much. It certainly wasn’t going to be monetary, and I was grateful for that.
Just from being of service, and how it’s stimulated and inspired me to continue to take myself off the mat, because there’s so much more to be gained from taking it off the mat and to be of service to others. The reward is just huge.
Many of the other limbs of Yoga come into play when I say I need to do this in the world, and ok let me put my seatbelt on and go for the ride. I don’t know where it’s going to take me. The Yamas and Niyamas are in play for me in doing that. I relied heavily on God and my relationship with my higher power to take me through this. There’s a lot of faith for me in that.
There’s a certain amount of clarity and cleanliness and honesty that has to come forward, and that’s present in the Yamas and Niyamas. I am clear, this is how I want to do this, and I am not going to allow anything to get in the way. The Yamas and Niyamas played into this part of Karma Yoga. That devotion is from Bhakti Yoga. The Bhakti Yoga is my devotion to this work because of the spiritual fulfillment—it is indescribable. It’s huge and I am so grateful that I have that.
The show was totally packed with insightful discussion thanks to our vibrant guests. We also welcomed Megan from The Africa Yoga Project comin’ in live from the Yoga Journal Conference this year, bringing their new book and a viewing of their new movie shot on the scenes in Kenya and Nairobi.
Jessica Durivage: We’d love for you to share with us what the Africa Yoga Project is, and how the Baptiste community has rallied around it.
Megan: The Africa Yoga Project is based in Kenya. We’ve trained forty Yoga teachers, young people in Kenya to teach Yoga. Baron Baptiste came and did a training in 2009. The teachers are teaching free Yoga classes in the community. Most of them live in the urban slums in Nairobi. They’re bringing safe spaces to the communities where they’re teaching. There’s been a huge response. We are teaching over four thousand people a week with the free classes.
Jessica Durivage: How can we see this movie?
Megan: It was finished this week. It aired this week. So we are still in the process of figuring our how to get it out to a wider audience. As soon as we get that figured out we’ll have some details up on the website, www.africayogaproject.org
To listen to the rest of the show, please click here.
This article was lovingly assembled and transcribed by #WIMG’s Incredible Intern, Social Media Maven, and Radio Broadcast Expert Jennifer Cusano. Check out more of Jenn’s exceptionally skillful work and wordsmithery on Here Women Talk, elephant journal, and LinkedIn.