Chicago is my kind of town. I was born and raised here. I’ve seen many changes in the city, most of which I see as positive. There’s a special vibe I feel there. I may have moved south 30 years ago, but, I’ll always be a Chicagoan.
It doesn’t take much to give me a reason to head to The Windy City. Summers in Chicago are particularly glorious. It’s a time to relish the beautiful weather. Bike, hike, hang out at the beach or chill at music and art fairs scattered throughout the city.
Now there’s another incentive to go to Chicago this summer. Bhakti Fest, for the first time, will bring a body-mind-soul lollapalooza to Chicago. Bhakti Fest will be held June 24 – 26 at the Midwest Conference Center, close to O’Hare Airport. A pre-intensive will take place downtown, June 23 at Yoga Now.
Bhakti Fest’s founder, Sridhar Silberfein, designed Bhakti Fest Midwest to bring the best in yoga, conscious music, spiritual and wellness workshops, and a healing sanctuary to America’s heartland. For the last five years, it was held in Madison, Wis.
“We decided to move Bhakti Fest Midwest to Chicago where there is a large and active yoga scene,” explained Silberfein. “With our new location, we are excited to offer a deeper, retreat-style event with longer yoga classes, more intense workshops, and a more peaceful vibe that will allow attendees to better experience the Bhakti Fest community.”
This year’s retreat features yoga workshops with veteran Bhakti Fest instructors Govind Das from Santa Monica, Saul David Raye from Ojai, New Orleans-based Sean Johnson, and Chicagoans Lisa Gniady, Amy Treciokas, Wade Gotwals, and Turbodogs Steve & Talya.
Treciokas is psyched that her adopted city is the host of Bhakti Fest Midwest. She’s hoping it will boost the positive vibes in the city. “People are hungry for the excitement, the teachings, and the music that Bhakti Fest is bringing to the Midwest. We don’t have a lot of bhakti (devotion) yoga, and our hearts are hungry for the bhakti vibe. All those good vibes will help us increase our own spiritual growth and bring more peace.”Bhakti is heart-felt devotion, usually expressed through chanting. Treciokas, Raye, Johnson, and Govind Das, all are kirtan musicians that routinely perform live music while they lead their yoga classes. Bhakti is what sets this festival apart from any other yoga festival.
Sean Johnson and his Wild Lotus Band will lead the pre-intensive. His five-hour “Tune Your Heart” workshop is designed to warm people up for the bhakti experience. The multi-talented Johnson will guide retreat participants to explore their own life stories through interactive storytelling, mythology, journaling, yoga, and chanting.
Bhakti has many benefits. Govind Das healed himself of chronic digestive issues through Ayurveda and bhakti practices. Treciokas says that the vibrations of the live music and mantras help people to go further in their yoga practice. “Bhakti Fest has live kirtan music at all the yoga classes, which lifts the energy an incredible amount. I love teaching with a live band and having some of my favorite musicians backing me up. It creates a transformative experience each time.”
Beyond the music, there will be a variety of wellness and spiritual workshops ranging from Vedic studies, tantric energy, alternative health disciplines to sound healing. Radhanath Swami will be one of the featured presenters. Richard, as he was called earlier in his life, grew up in the Chicago suburbs. He took a summer break from college to go hitchhiking in Europe. Ultimately, he found his inner calling. Today, he is a spiritual leader and greatly responsible for several major charitable entities in India and author of The Journey Home and The Journey Within. So, Chicago’s Bhakti Fest is another “journey home” for his holiness.
Treciokas encourages people to attend this special retreat. “It is the most amazing festival ever. Chicago is reachable by highways or flights from almost every city in the Midwest within a reasonable amount of transportation time. This is a gathering of the Midwest tribes, and everyone will want to be there. The teachers and musicians are unparalleled, and they are in a great, easily accessible location. It will be a weekend of divinely inspired transformation.”
Full weekend and day passes are available with discounts for seniors, active service members, and veterans. Visit http://midwest.bhaktifest.com/ for more information.