Over the last 3 years Yoga festivals have become all the rage within the Yoga world! Years ago, students went for yoga classes – and then when they developed enough of an interest they went for Yoga retreats. These were quiet affairs at Ashrams and later at exotic, beautiful locales around the world – from Hawaii to Greece and Thailand! Slowly though, Yoga was inching itself up the mainstream ladder and Yoga teachers were becoming accomplished celebrities within the firmament of the New-age, Alternative lifestyle. We hit a tipping point when there was enough momentum for Summer Solstice Yoga to happen at Times Square, NY! And then the first Yoga festivals started blossoming. Wanderlust introduced us to the idea of a full-blown YOGA+MUSIC festival atmosphere! Wherein we didn’t necessarily come to ponder on and ruminate life’s mysteries; but to unabashedly celebrate everything that YOGA and alternative living stood for! From being a solitary practice, the West transformed Yoga into a celebratory, community experience that exuded full-on Energy! And so now, that celebration visits the shores that got the ball rolling in the first place – INDIA!
ZAMBHALA is definitely an initiative that’s been meaning to happen. We often joke that urban, upwardly mobile Indians really started taking yoga seriously when they discovered in 1999 that Madonna does Yoga! Till then only their grannies did it! And my word, have we come a long way in the last 14 years. The Yoga landscape has changed from being something that a Baba-ji or Guru-ji taught your family to something you can learn from your neighbour’s track-pant clad daughter! We’ve seen an explosion of Yoga teachers in India. To a large extent, Bollywood embracing Yoga has helped redefine our generation’s fitness world. The stage has been ripe this last year for an Indian yoga festival to burst into your collective consciousness – and that’s certainly happened with ZAMBHALA. For the first time, I’ve come across Yoga festival ads on the radio and newspaper; and I’ve heard people talking about it. It’s almost as if a generation of young Indian yoga teachers had been waiting for this moment when they could be a part of a festival that was huge, that was mainstream and that brought them to a place where they could congregate. Over the years, a lot of Teachers have had to leave high-paying careers to pursue their passion for Yoga; and over the years we had to slowly overcome inhibitions about getting into yoga full-time. This moment is a vindication to all of us that our time has arrived! ZAMBHALA is much more that a Yoga festival – it’s a watershed moment in the history of modern yoga. The Motherland re-awakens to YOGA!
So all of you fellow Yoga teachers and students; I’m coming to Zambhala to meet, learn and feel this new vibe that’s going to slowly blow across the Indian yoga scene. And I’m hoping to meet and share your stories; stories of how you decided one day long ago that you’re going to be different – that you’re going to be a YOGI!
– MANISH POLE: Yogi, Storyteller, Gypsy and founder-director of Total Yoga (www.totalyoga.in)