I’m a yogi. But even before I started meditation and asana practice as a teen, I was attracted to all things Indian. The food. The music. The religion. The traditions. Henna. The saris. Bindi. Back to music. Bhakti. Shakti. It’s all pure bliss to me.
I traipsed through India; soaked up the spiritual energy at the glorious temples from Chennai to Trivandrum to Goa and Mumbai. I felt deep appreciation and peace in each sacred space. I entered, barefoot, as early as 4 a.m. to bask in the glories of the chanting, the candles, the garlands and the tilak.
For those who think India is just a dream, they can experience some of the culture and traditions of India in Texas: Yoga and Kirtan. I’d never make the trip to visit the Galleria. Now that my daughter is grown, I wouldn’t drive up to go to the Space Center. But give me some good yoga, chanting, kirtan, and pure veg food, and I’m there.
Houston is the site of the sixth annual Texas Yoga Conference, February 20-22. What makes it even more attractive to me is that it’s not taking place in a cold cookie cutter chain hotel or conference center. This year’s venue is the newly completed 24,000 square foot ISKCON Temple and Cultural Center on West 34th Street.
I’ve visited the ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) center in Mumbai, and was in awe. My favorite place to eat, shop, and sing kirtan in Dallas is the ISKCON temple. Both of these temples feature elaborate sanctuaries filled with three dimensional deities and walls painted with images of Lord Krishna, Radhe and others. Regardless of your religious leanings, or lack of them, you can enter and experience the divine peace and energy within, and outside of, the walls of these palatial shrines.
The Houston center began construction began in 2004. Its grand opening was in May of 2014. Several of my friends drove up to Houston for the fanfare, and the San Antonio Express News featured an article with ample photos to announce the opening. Leaders from multiple faith communities made prayers of invocation in their own faith language and tradition to bring blessings and goodwill to the Houston center.
This is the first year the Texas Yoga Conference will be held in its new home at ISKCON, Houston.
“The ISKCON temple is a beautiful cultural center organized and developed by some of the most supportive and loving people in our community,” said Jennifer Buergermeister, founder of Texas Yoga Conference. “We are honored and blessed to be invited into their amazing space – a home of absolute devotion to the path of acceptance and love. If you like to walk on rose petals and feel absolutely seen and accepted for who you truly are, regardless of race or religion, join us and let’s support a movement and walk together along on the path of grace.”
Buergermeister, an entrepreneur and yoga instructor, expects plenty of people from outside the Houston area to be drawn to her weekend event which offers full conference passes, day passes, and single activity admission. Basically, something for everyone. Concerts. Ayurvedic cooking demos. Lectures. Yoga sessions for beginners or advanced practitioners including acro yoga and pole yoga. There are also many therapeutic workshops and sessions, including one on how Sugar is the New Fat. As a diabetic, I’ve known that, and am always wanting to learn more about blood sugar management which is my specialty practice area.
If you read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I’m a bhakti fan. So I’m also eager to see Vish from The Mayapuris perform. The popular traveling bhakti (devotional) kirtaneer was at the Houston ISKCON grand opening, and performs yearly at BhaktiFest in California, among other places. This will probably be the third or fourth time I’ve chanted and moved to his beats.
Dini, who lives in Dallas, has seen Vish perform four times. “Vish’s kirtan opens the heart letting The Divine infuse you with true love. He beautifully fuses the ancient sacred mantras and tunes with contemporary influences bringing kirtan to new highs. You won’t be able to resist the urge to dance or sing along,” she says.
Vish will lead kirtan with Gaura Vani Friday night at 8 p.m. and Saturday with the Juggernauts at 11:45 a.m.
Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon, The Bhakti House Band will perform fusion percussion-driven instrumentation and rich harmonies that enlighten the soul. Since the 2011 release of the Bhakti House Band’s first award-winning album, Nada Bhakti: The Sound of Devotion, they have gained thousands of loyal fans in more than 50 countries.
The concerts are open to the public with tickets priced at $10 pre-paid, $15 at the door. To reserve your tickets, view the complete schedule, or register for the conference, visit www.texasyogaconference.com. For information on the venue, visit www.iskconhouston.org. For more on India, kirtan, and ISKCON, read older posts at http://thenamastecounsel.com/yoga-blog/ or articles.