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Monday, September 24, 2007

a yoga hangover

what do you get when you immerse yourself in an entire weekend's worth of yoga and yoga-related shopping?

in my case, a tired body, a happy soul, and a mind that's still trying to reconcile the financial repercussions of my spending spree :)

the big global mala project + yoga walk shindig finally came to fruition this past weekend, sept 22-23, at the los angeles convention center. interestingly enough, there were two other conferences also going on in the center's south hall: a black business expo and an adult entertainment convention. so while we were grazing on tofu burgers and veggie wraps on our side of the wall, the aroma of creole, caribbean, and soul food continued to tease us from the BBE side. in the meantime, men waiting in line for adultcon tickets on the lobby level had their fill of eye candy as young, lithe yoginis made their way to and from the parking areas. what a mix... gotta love LA!

my saturday started bright and early. after checking in for my 8am-to-noon shift, i acquainted myself with the general tasks that needed to be attended to at the global mala booth, then dropped by the surrounding booths to see who and what were there. it was like having all my different yoga worlds converge in one place at the same time -- the friendly faces from studios, retailers, and websites were all there! i eventually had to pull myself away from all the socializing so i could get back to my volunteer duties...

luckily for me, i was able to get myself assigned to press and media duty. i was stationed at the press check-in desk in the lobby with barbara, another volunteer. we were tasked with assisting katy saeger and joy burch from the saeger media group, the PR group for the global mala event. we checked press credentials, handed out event information, and answered questions. it was a kick; i was able to meet representatives from the different organizations covering the event, not only those with whom i'd interacted with before (like LA yoga's felicia tomasko and other familiar names and/or faces), but also people i wouldn't have met otherwise, including a TV crew who flew in all the way from japan.

once my shift ended, i reserved a spot near the main stage with my yoga mat, then started shopping in earnest. while i browsed the bargain bins, i kept a close eye and ear on the stage goings-on: the kirtan artists, the meditation leaders, and the yoga instructors. after all, the point of the GMP was to practice with and be inspired by the the luminaries that were invited to the event (although from the way i was madly plunking down the plastic, you'd never know it). and as a pre-mala warm-up, i treated myself to a ten minute chair massage from paul at the exhale spa booth.

by the time gurmukh kaur khalsa took the stage early in the afternoon, i realized it was about time i participated in the activities. i stashed away my purchases and rushed to my yoga mat to join the class that had already started. by the time the hour-long class was over, my arms and legs were exhausted from all the pushups, the jumping up and down, the bending and swaying, and the circling around and around. in normal circumstances, it wouldn't have mattered, but this time, i still had those 108 to do! not only that, but i had already put in 27 sun salutes and 108 minutes of kirtan the night before...

after a brief kirtan intermission, it was finally time for the main event: the yoga mala with its 108 sun salutations, led by shiva rea and members of the core yoga team. an announcement was made over the PA system, and one by one, those still standing around the vendor booths dropped what they were doing to join the large group already assembled around the stage.

after a brief introduction and demonstration by shiva and peter sterios on how to do the sun salutes, including less strenuous variations, we began.

round 1... we were led by michael beckwith and shiva, while girish inspired us with his chanting. we were held to a nice and easy pace, and before we knew it, the first 27 were over. piece of cake.

round 2... this time it was krishna kaur khalsa sharing the stage with shiva, with wah! and her electric guitar providing a rock beat to keep our spirits high. with the next 27 completed, we moved on.

round 3... shiva was joined by seane corn, who fired up the crowd with her words as we moved through each iteration. the musical offerings of govindas and radha helped get us through another set of 27. it was getting tough, but i was still hanging in there.

and for some reason, maybe because i was mentally and physically spent by then, i thought we were done. just as i was about to let out a celebratory whoop, i realized we had one more round to go :(

round 4... michael beckwith rejoined shiva, and this time donna de lory and her band helped see us through the last 27 with their infectious om namah shivaya. by then, i could no longer hold my chaturangas and my jumpbacks had gotten weak and sloppy. thank god it was finally over!

the rest of the evening was a blur...

... freshly-squeezed apple carrot juice... jeremy piven... warm and crunchy french fries... sheila chandra... larabar samples... jai uttal... "will power" h2om water... the agape choir...

by the time dj cheb i sabbah's throbbing world music set was cut off by the convention staff shortly before midnight, i had trance danced myself into a state of mindless bliss. still holding on to the invite to the VIP after-party at the yogamates office a few blocks away, i realized that i needed to go to bed; i had to pass on the chance for more food, more music, and more freebies. sigh... i must be getting old :(

and yes, compulsive me was back the next day to fulfill yet another volunteer shift i'd signed up for. besides me, there were only four others who showed up to man the GMP booth, so since there wasn't much activity going on that day, we all took turns holding down the fort while the others took yoga classes and/or shopped. and for our noble and dedicated efforts, we were all rewarded with limited edition manduka eKO mats and jade harmony mats as parting gifts. thanks, daphne and dhyana!

as i write this, the floor around me is strewn with the acquisitions i have yet to put away: the yoga mats and the other freebies that i received for volunteering my time, a limited edition GMP yogitoes skidless towel, a dali mama meditation cushion, a yoga tribe and culture tank top, a shiva shakti cami top, a hardtail t-shirt and yoga pants, an energy muse bracelet, a tara home wooden buddha that decorated the event's altar, some white swan CDs and acacia DVDs, and a brightly-colored scarf that i picked up from a clothing vendor to keep me warm as i walked back to my car at the end of the event. and yes, almost all of them were on sale :)

hopefully, the global mala project will become an annual event; i can't wait to do this again!

** postscript: i totally forgot about two other CDs that i bought over the weekend -- one was the best of wah!, which wah! was gracious enough to autograph for me while we were packing things up at the GMP booth late saturday night; the other was naked rhythm's frequency, a fantastic world music album that i first heard at the expo sunday and haven't stopped listening to since i popped it into my CD player at the office! (and why didn't i think of having them autograph their CD when i bought it from them?)

2 Comments:

Blogger Rona said...

hi so i found your website thru a google search...i was at the global mala too & there was a vendor there...they had these amazing shirts with gandhi and MLK that said "be the change." they have a website but i didn't write it down & now i'm trying to find 'em online to buy one! you don't happen to remember seeing this booth or the vendor's name do you? anyhoo, if you remember lemme know: rona.sarah@gmail.com THANKS! (i liked your recap of the event btw.)

3:29 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi rona --

yes, i remember them! in fact i made a comment to them about how there were only men on the shirt... how about mother teresa and/or any other female? :)

let me think about this a while and see if i can come up with their name...

5:31 PM  

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