When my boss at Yoga Basics asked me if I wanted to cover the Hanuman Festival, I couldn't have said yes fast enough. Free tickets to a yoga festival in Boulder, Colorado? Count me in. I had heard of the Hanuman Festival, but I didn't know much about it other than that it was a weekend of yoga. Of course, I didn't need to know much more to know I wanted to be there.
Going in with no expectations is always a good idea
Before this I had only been to one festival in my life (namely Envision in Costa Rica last February). I knew this wasn't the hippie-village scene of Envision and I knew there would be yoga. That was it. Sometimes it can be nice to know what you're getting into, but I say if you are going to do it either way, why not keep the expectations low? It gives you more space to be pleasantly surprised. And boy did the Hanuman Festival surprise me!
The Hanuman Festival attracted a fascinating crowd of people. On the one hand you had the modern yogis in their lululemon leggings, sipping Kombucha, and posting every second on Snapchat. On the other hand you had the barefoot hippies sporting extra-long armpit hair and discussing the state of their chakras.
I loved it all.
Everyone was welcome and everyone was able to find something there for them. Even the yoga classes were catered to the varied population. You could attend power vinyasa classes and therapeutic yoga classes if you wanted a purely physical practice, or you could head to the Five Elements yoga class or the Chakra Tuning Workshop if you wanted to go a bit deeper.
Because I didn't know what was in store for me, I was amazed by all of it. The teachers were spectacular, the vendors out of this world, and the weekend itself a powerful weekend of self-growth.
All good things happen outside of your comfort zone
This is by no means something I learned at the Hanuman Festival. In fact, it is one of the main reasons I keep traveling/exploring. However, the Hanuman Festival definitely reminded me of the extraordinary power of diving outside your comfort zone and opening yourself up to whatever experiences happen to come your way.
In the case of the Hanuman Festival, I opted to got to all the hippiest things on the schedule. To be fair, yoga classes based around the elements, chakra tunings, and kirtans are not entirely outside of my comfort zone. I've been living in the hippie world too long for that. But they are definitely closer to the border than a class about foot health. So I opted for full on crazy town.
Full disclosure: I'm totally into all that woo-woo stuff. I have a line of crystals on my windowsill. Sometimes I chant in Sanskrit. So when our yoga teacher had us stomping around the grass shouting/singing praise to Pachamama, I was way into it.
That being said, I was still glancing uncomfortably at everyone else, asking myself, "Is this normal? Are we really letting out our inner fire-goddesses right now? Is that even a thing?" I had found the jagged edges of my comfort zone and I was pushing on them, once again forcing them to expand. Still, as could only be expected, I had a blast and I was exposed to all sorts of wild ideas that would never have come up if I'd opted for the foot health class.
When all is said and done, nothing beats some good me time
Because I hadn't paid for my tickets, I didn't feel obligated to spend every second at the Hanuman Festival. I dedicated a good portion of time to exploring the city of Boulder, but even that I did at a leisurely pace. What I really loved was having the time to just relax in the apartment I was staying in or spend a few hours writing in a quiet coffee shop. Yoga festivals are supposed to be about diving in and learning about yourself, so I tried to spend a lot of time with me.
When I was 18 I spent over 500 hours alone in a room in Ethiopia over the span of two months. It was intense. But it also gave me a healthy understanding of how important it can be to spend time with yourself. Since I've become a more active traveler I've found I am hardly ever alone (ironic, since I am a solo traveler). I can tell when I haven't had enough time with myself and everything else in my life starts to suffer. During my time in Boulder I had a lot of time alone and it was exactly what I needed.
It was my chance to press the restart button. I had recently been diagnosed with OCD and it was exactly the solo time I needed to figure out what that meant for me. I was able to reconnect with a side of myself (namely my spiritual side) that I had been drifting away from. I was able to recommit to self care. I was able to fall in love with myself again.
Every travel experience I have ever had has been powerful. I always walk away with a bowlful of lessons learned and a slightly altered way of looking at things. The Hanuman Festival was no exception. I am so glad I went and I hope the opportunity will come again sooner rather than later.