Aimee Sicuro

and are interwoven with yogic philosophy at the deepest levels. But they have their roots in the Rig Veda, the most ancient and revered of Hindu scriptures. "What the Rig Veda suggests is that the purusharthas are the inherent values of the universe," explains Douglas Brooks, a Tantric scholar and professor of religious studies at the University of Rochester. "The cosmos is considered a living being, and the issues of law, prosperity, desire, and freedom belong to it. These are not just human concerns or psychological concepts. When we engage them as human beings, we are aligning the microcosm with the macrocosm. The cosmos is all laid out for you; your job is to get with the program."

To fully grasp the purusharthas, Stryker says, it pays to parse the meaning of the word itself.

Purusha means, roughly, "soul"— the essential Self that is unchanging, that isn't born and doesn't die, but belongs to the universe. Artha means "the ability" or "for the purpose of." Taken together, Stryker explains, purushartha means "for the purpose of the soul," and the very concept asks that you take the broadest view of your life. Are you managing the day-to-day in such a way as to support your inner work?

Each one of the purusharthas has many scriptures dedicated to it (the Kama Sutra, the Dharma Shastras, and the Artha Shastras, among others). To truly understand all four would require a lifetime of study. Still, learning the fundamentals is useful, especially to the contemporary practitioner who's simply looking to find more joy and meaning in life.

Here, we provide a guide for working with the four aims — dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Once you have an understanding of the individual components of each of the purusharthas, you can assess the role they play in your life by contemplating the questions related to each one. You can then begin to analyze how well balanced they are in your life.

"The purusharthas are a sophisticated way of living in balance," says spiritual teacher and Toga Journal columnist Sally Kempton. "But they demand reflection. You have to constantly ask yourself,

Which of these areas am I emphasizing too much? Am I having a good time but not being as ethical as I could be? Am I a great yogi but haven't yet figured out how to make a living? Am I incredibly ethical but still at the mercy of every passing feeling or thought? Am I so rigid in my practice that if I can't do 90 minutes, my day is ruined? Anything you don't deal with will come back to bite you later."

Put simply, the purusharthas can offer a way for evaluating your life, making good decisions, and contemplating pragmatic dilemmas—like whether to spend time with your young child, or go back to work to save for her college education—in a way that honors the highest ideals of life. 'At the end ofyour life, you will ask yourself, 'Did I live this life well?'" Kempton suggests. "And in my view, you will feel good about it to the degree that you balanced the purusharthas."

1) DHARMA I duty

Let's just say it up front: dharma is a big word. It's translated to mean "duty," "ethics," "righteousness," "work," "law," "truth," "responsibility," and even the spiritual teachings related to all the above (as in the Buddha dharma or the Hindu dharma). The meaning of the word is synonymous with your very purpose in life—with having the strength to get up each day and do what needs to be done.

continued on page 104

Fine-tune your life

The four aims are the pillars of a fulfilling life. In the following self-inquiry practice by Sally Kempton, you'll consider where your current priorities lie and how you need to shift them to create a deeply satisfying life. Don't worry about getting your whole life in order at once-do the exercise each week, and you'll become more in tune with yourself, more present with the world around you.

Here's how:

> Find 30 minutes in which you can be alone and undisturbed. Create a cozy space, and settle into it with a journal, a pen, a candle, and a comfortable seat (a meditation cushion or a chair).

> Light the candle to signify that you are in a sacred space. "A candle symbolizes the flame of the inner witness," Kempton says. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and relax for a few minutes.

> Begin to think back over your activities of the preceding week. Consider all of the things you did related to your DHARMA. How did you serve your family, your community, and yourself? What were your obligations? Did you meet them with ease? What ethical tests did you face, and how did you deal with them? Record the answers in your journal.

> When you've exhausted your thoughts about dharma, consider ARTHA. What did you do this week for the sake of your livelihood? What did you do to maintain your health? What did you need to support yourself? Did you get it? Write the answers in your journal; note your concerns and anxieties.

> Next, think deeply about KAMA. What actions did you take solely for the purpose of creating more joy in your life and in the world? What were your

greatest pleasures? What were your strongest desires? Were you able to realize them? Write down your thoughts.

> Then, record the activities you engaged in for the sake of MOKSHA. These might include yoga, meditation, prayer, chanting, spiritual reading, or self-inquiry. Did you find a feeling of freedom? Which areas of your life feel constricted or burdened? What do you need to do to liberate yourself? Write down the answers.

> When you've gone through each purushartha individually, analyze the balance between them. Looking at what you've written, see where your emphasis was in the past week. Which parts of your life were unattended to? Are you working too hard in one area? Not hard enough? What are the consequences of your priorities? Formulate a simple statement about the way the purusharthas manifested themselves in your life, something like, "This week, I worked hard to meet my obligations, but I felt burdened. I took the most pleasure from my friendships. I didn't find time to work toward liberation."

> Finally, formulate an intention for the coming week. You might set an intention related to each of the purusharthas, or you could focus on one or two that need more of your attention. Record the intention in your journal. Then say it to yourself-first out loud, then inwardly. Close your journal, blow out the candle, and ease back into your day with a new understanding of your soul's priorities.

Taking time each week to think about the purusharthas will enable you to see how your life's priorities are constantly shifting and let you do some troubleshooting whenever unease and unhappiness arise. "Yoga is one of the great tools humans have for recognizing meaning, and the purusharthas let you see whether you are living a good life," Kempton says. "If you are not finding joy in your practice, there is something wrong with your practice. If you aren't able to operate ethically, you'll know that changes are needed."

celebrate

QoOd times

Part workshop, part yoga party, a yoga festival is just the place to enjoy practice, community, and fun.

by Neal Pollack

to a yoga festival this year, and you might find yourself trying to hold a wobbly Tree Pose on a slackline strung between two trees. Maybe you'll cross paths with clowns on stilts, juggling torches. You might go for a rigorous morning Ashtanga practice followed by a soothing vipassana meditation, or run from a rock 'n' roll vinyasa flow to a meditative Yin Yoga session—all before lunch. A Trance Dance could be in the offing, or your postyoga glow could be enhanced by an outdoor concert. You might find yourself swaying and chanting kirtan in the desert, taking a ski gondola 8,000 feet up a mountain to do asana with the best view ever, or locking arms with a stranger for support in an eyes-closed balancing pose. No matter where you live or where you're planning to travel, a sweet yoga circus is probably nearby. The era of the yoga festival has arrived.

Across the country, in venues small and large, people are gathering to practice. The festivals are as varied as the styles of yoga practiced, but they collectively cement yoga's reputation as a permanent American cultural force. "Yoga festivals are really great for people who are

THE PHOTOS ON PAGES 66-71 WERE TAKEN AT A VARIETY OF FESTIVALS, INCLUDING WANDERLUST, BHAKTI FEST, YOGA ROCKS MOUNTAIN FEST, TELLURIDE YOGA FESTIVAL, AND SOLSTICE IN TIMES SQUARE.

newer to yoga or who want to try different kinds of styles," says Jenny Sauer-Klein, co-founder ofAcroYoga (who is pictured'flying"upside down in Baddha Konasana on page 69).

Yoga, for the most part, is a serious, personal, introspective activity, a centering oasis of sanity amid the chaos of life. But, says Sauer-Klein, "Festivals give you more of a chance to play outdoors in the sunshine—and celebrate and enjoy and have a more ecstatic experience. There's more freedom and spontaneity."

Festivals allow you to put aside your reflective practice for a few days and enjoy your yoga like a party. You hang out with like-minded people, listen to music, make new friends, and share dinner and laughter after a day of hard-core asana. Often you're learning something new in a low-stress atmosphere, and sometimes you're giggling on your mat—amazed by the communal vibe, the rocking music, the great instructors, and an awesome view.

Jf I Kristine Pauls ofAus-tin, Texas, went to her W rr"^^^ first yoga festival last ^^ year—Wanderlust, in Lake Tahoe, California. "There were types of yoga I'd never experienced," she says. "Unless you live in California, you get your hatha and your Bikram, but you don't get other creative forms from people who are energizing the yoga culture." She found herself inspired by San Francisco teacher Rusty Wells. "Even though he did ridiculous chanting, I was like, All right, I'm for it.' I chanted, and I don't chant. If you can do yoga to Led Zeppelin, then I'm for you."

The inner quiet of daily practice is replaced at festivals with a community buzz. "You know how, after a yoga class, you feel that yoga high, that yoga bliss? Well, you spend a whole weekend feeling that way," says 26-year-old Ashley Lowe, who's been going to the Ojai Yoga Crib festival for several years.

At festivals, yoga practice becomes a social experience, with limitless possibilities for good conversation and fun. "Everyone's energy resonates. It's easier to connect with people," adds Lowe. "You don't feel anxiety. You just feel

Yoga festivals are popping up all over the country. For a sampling of the fun, read on.

more full. I remember laughing really hard with friends after it was all over. We got a burrito, and things were just funny."

Yoga festivals are popping up all over the country. For a sampling of the fun, read on.

SING OuT LOuD: BHAKTI FEST

The deserts of California echoed with kirtan for 58 consecutive hours during the first Bhakti Fest, held in September 2009 on the grounds of the Joshua Tree Retreat Center inJoshua Tree National Park. The main organizer, Sridhar Silberfein (who says he arranged for Swami Satchidananda to give the invocation at Woodstock), booked dozens of kirtan musicians such as Wade Morissette, Dave Stringer and Jai Uttal as well as yoga teachers like Sara Ivanhoe, Saul David Raye, Shiva Rea, and more. Neither in 100-degree noontime heat, nor at 3 a.m., did the chanting stop for a moment. Yoga classes, in a variety of styles, went on from dawn to dusk in a separate tent.

The inaugral Bhakti Fest drew 2,500 people, most of whom camped in the desert. The festival offered inexpensive packages starting at $100 for the whole weekend, and then donated half the proceeds to charities such as Embracing the World, Oxfam, the Seva Foundation, and the Love Serve Remember Foundation (run by Ram Dass). "The driving force of the festival is dedication, service, and helping people out," Silberfein says. "Certainly not money. That's way down the list."

"These festivals are really introducing people to that creative conscious energy that we try to home in on when we teach yoga classes," says Kasey Luber, director of yogamates.com and teacher of Kundalini Yoga classes continued on page 98

2010: A YEAR OF YOGA

Great practice opportunities to put on your calendar.

june january

Jan. 23

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