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Kaitlin Quistgaard

sweet harmony

Is your yoga a practice or a party? How do you balance your inner life with worldly life?

One weekend last summer, my friend Ann and I packed mats, kids, and babysitter and headed to the Wanderlust yoga and music festival in Lake Tahoe, California. We are both "serious" students ofyoga; we study asana, chanting, philosophy. But for a couple of glorious days, we let our practice be a party. We let our Warrior Poses pulse to the hip-hop beat of MC Yogi (see "Pay It Forward," page 22). We joined a chorus line in Utt-itha Hasta Padangusthasana, supporting each other's outstretched legs as we arched back toward the mountains behind us. We giggled and joked and even tickled each other in class. Then we collected our kids and kicked back with some great music and yoga buddies. We had a blast!

It's one of the great luxuries of this modern era of American yoga—you can dive deep into the teachings, and you can also indulge in free-spirited yoga fun. Amazingly, both of these experiences are on offer at many yoga community gatherings —just read Neal Pollack's "Celebrate Good Times" (page 66). To join in the fun, check out our 2010 yoga trip planner, 'A Year of Yoga" (page 70).

I do hear criticism that a "yoga party" is a distraction from the true aim of practice—a quiet, steady mind capable of resting in peace. And I won't argue that rocking out on your mat has much in common with a contemplative practice, but I think a satisfying life is possible when we balance our desires for fun and for the fruits of discipline. This kind of harmony has been celebrated for centuries in India through thepurusharthas, or four aims of life, which suggest that a well-lived life balances the pursuits of pleasure (kama), duty (dharma), wealth (artha), and liberation (moksha). In 'Aim High" (seepage 62), writer Hillari Dowdle shows us the benefits of focusing energy on each of these four areas in the new year. It looks like a great model for a happy and purposeful life. *

My pal Ann Austin (in turquoise), me (in flowers), and a few friends working on "Wild Thing" at Wanderlust.

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