With more than 200 different workshops, classes, talks and events offered, the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud brought together yogis, music lovers and spirituality seekers from all around the world. Combining fun with a mission, the Bali Spirit Festival stands out: it sponsors children’s programs in the local community, environmental conservation efforts, an HIV/AIDS outreach program and has made it a priority to give back to the community.
Founded by Meghan Pappenheim, I Made Gunarta and Robert Weber, the festival brings yoga, healing and music to Ubud, preserves a variety of Balinese creative forms and culture and positively impacts the consciousness of people around the world. 2017 marked the festival’s 10th anniversary, a truly special event to experience.
The festival was divided into daytime events – mainly yoga and dance classes, talks and seminars – at Bhanuswari Resort and Spa, Ubud and nighttime concerts at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) featuring Bhakti Night performances and One World One Stage concerts.
Nearly impossible to choose from the abundance of choices in classes and workshops, a narrowed-down itinerary for the week resulted in a fun mix of yoga fusion workshops, dance classes and interesting talks. Many proved to be unforgettable festival highlights:
Attending Leslie Salmon Jones’ serotonin-enhancing Afro Flow Yoga class, a high-energy 90-minute session of yoga, dance, rhythm and amazing drum beats played by Leslie’s husband Jeff W. Jones, marked one of many highlights of the festival. The duo that hails from the East Coast of the US uses their unique approach to yoga, dance and music to promote healing, balance, peace and the elevation of all humanity by incorporating the traditions and teachings of dances of the African Diaspora to yogic practices.
Interesting, as well, was witnessing a healing session conducted by world-renowned yoga teacher and Native American Medicine practitioner Ana Forrest, who, together with her Australian partner Jose Calarco and didgeridoo player Dr. Didge Dolphin, performed the healing as part of a press conference. They recounted how their methods had just recently healed a woman from breast cancer.
Ana Forrest and Jose Calarco
Learning from author, teacher and ayurvedic astrologer Jeffrey Armstrong about finding one’s purpose, choosing the right career as well as making smart decisions in interpersonal relationships, was not only a daily educational lesson but also an interesting introduction to his innovative fusion of Western technology/psychology and Eastern wisdom. His talks teach how to integrate universal spiritual values, a healthy lifestyle and the desire to protect the environment for future generations.
Insiya Rasiwala-Finn from India – now based in Canada – a yoga teacher and ayurveda practitioner, introduced festival attendees to ayurveda. Her love and passion for the practice was highly contagious and inspired one to learn more about the field.
Movement Class at the BaliSpirit Festival
It wasn’t only the daytime workshops and classes that were memorable. The Bahkti night evening concerts brought world-class artists to the BSF One-World Stage. One night the eclective arist collective/7-person band Brooklyn Gypsies rocked the night, another the beautiful spiritual singer Jai Jagdeesh moved many to tears with her enchanting voice and healing music. Accompanied by one drummer and a former Celine Dion cellist, Jai inspired the audience to sing along to her meditative chants, leaving everyone with a truly special night to remember.
The pinnacle of the week was a nearly 2-hour performance by Australian singer-songwriter sensation Xavier Rudd whose socially conscious lyrics and music marked a fitting end to an unforgettable festival.
Once a year, the BaliSpirit Festival brings together people from all around the world for all things yoga, workshops, music, shared wisdom, love and consciousness. Check the festival website and social media for info on the next event in early 2018.