Kansas City Yoga Festival 2014 featuring MC Yogi

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend the third annual Kansas City Yoga Festival.

It wasn't Wanderlust but it was in my backyard and much more affordable. And totally worth it. Here's a quick overview of what we did and what I learned.

Day 1: Concert with Missionaries of Consciousness Kirtan and MC Yogi/DJ Drez

Really this was night one. The festival kicked off with a party!

My friend Marisa and I were fashionably late because we decided to have a drink downtown first. Expecting to walk into a loud concert, we were surprised to see a group of yogis sitting cross-legged on the ground around a couple of musicians singing about love. At first it was a little too '70s for me (and you know I like hippie shit) but once I got over the initial surprise it was fun.

Next came MC Yogi and DJ Drez. MC Yogi is a musician who raps about yoga. Yes, really. And he's good. Really. In addition to rhymes, he also has some killer asanas. See for yourself:

I took my own video and photos but they aren’t super good. If you’re interested, you can check them out on Instagram.

SuePark-KCYogaFest.jpg

Session 1: The Inward Journey to the "Self" with Sue Park

Description from KansasCityYogaFestival.com: 

Join Sue Park for discussion as well as practice as she guides you through the layers of who we are. We live in an amazing vehicle "the human body" comprising of depth and complexity. We will explore the map starting from the outer layer and on inward These layers or sheaths of our Being provide us with a map with which we can navigate towards an understanding of our true nature.

Sue taught us about the koshas and how to access their layers to get to your true Self. She then led a vinyasa flow class that I really enjoyed. Starting with a base sequence, the focus was on listening to your body, accessing the koshas and moving intuitively. Yummy.

Sue teaches locally at a few studios in south Overland Park — check her out! 

MC Yogi, "Mantras, Beats and Meditations" workshop at Kansas City Yoga Festival. — Balance in the 'Burbs

Session 2: Mantras, Beats and Meditations with MC Yogi and DJ Drez

Description from KansasCityYogaFestival.com: 

A mantra is a word, Repeated in the mind, A Beat creates, a steady Rhythm, Meditation happens spontaneously when we get lost in the groove of what were focusing on. In this yoga session MC YOGI will dive deep into the rich practices, myths and teachings of the Yoga and Buddhist tradition.  

This workshop was the highlight of my festival experience. I've been in classes that incorporated mantras before, but I never experienced a mantra like this. MC Yogi explained mantras briefly as well as the meaning of the mantra he used in the yoga practice he led. Om mani padme hum. (If you're interested in learning about the meaning of this mantra and mantras in general, let me know in the comments — it deserves its own post.)

Om mani padme hum mantra.
MC Yogi at Kansas City Yoga Festival. — Balance in the 'Burbs

While he guided us through the sequence, he had us repeat the mantra (particularly during the challenging parts). When he wasn't guiding us into a pose, he sang the mantra into his microphone while DJ Drez created the perfect background beats. This made the mantra not only sound super awesome, but also made it vibrate through every vein and every nadi in my body.

That mantra has been on repeat in my mind ever since. If you ever get an opportunity to yoga with MC Yogi — DO IT.

Breathe.

Session 3: Breathe and Meditate with Patricia Gray and Sami Aaron

Description from KansasCityYogaFestival.com: 

Immerse yourself in meditation and pranayama (yoga breathing.) Many spiritual traditions tell us the answers are within.  Yet when we look inside, most of us just hear the constant chatter of thoughts.  A calm mind, one free of distractions, IS possible to cultivate through breathing and meditation.  Expand the natural evolution of your yoga asana practice. Sami and Patricia offer simple, practical “take home” techniques.  The session will leave you utterly relaxed with a guided meditation of yoga nidra, deep rest.

After four hours of physical yoga practice, my muscles were tired and ready to relax in this session. Patricia Gray and Sami Aaron are Kansas City locals and teach meditation, pranayama and yoga nidra (BeingOntoSomething.org). 

The information about pranayama was mostly a refresher of things I learned during yoga teacher training, but refreshers are good. This was also my second time experiencing a yoga nidra (yoga sleep), but this one was a little different from my first. My first incorporated music and a singing bowl. This one only used voice. In both cases, it worked. In seconds I was in a half-awake dream state — completely relaxed.

I didn't take any pics at this one ... yoga nidra puts you in a yogi daze.

CC image courtesy of Missy N. on Flickr

Overall I'd say my first Kansas City Yoga Festival experience was a success! I gained knowledge, new friends and managed to come home with a few treasures from the vendors that were there. If you were on the fence and didn't come this year, I hope to see you next time! If you'd like to see more photos, I posted an album here.

Namaste.


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