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Ubud, Bali May 4-7, 2023

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Shiva Rae – Prana Flow Yoga

When I arrived yesterday morning 15 minutes before the start of Shiva Rae’s first class of the festival, there was already a line outside the door. I unfurled my new mat, purchased that morning at the Dharma fair, into one of the few vacant places left on the periphery of the crowd. People just kept flooding in – well over 100, spilling out onto the grass and into the full on sun of a tropical mid day.

And then she arrived, the headliner of the yoga festival, a yoga teacher who devotees regularly pay thousands of dollars to study with on retreats in Costa Rica, Morocco, Lebanon, and beyond.

Shiva’s style is to flow and pulse through asanas. She explains that everything alive pulses and flows with the life force, right down to the cells and molecules in our bodies. And that when we move with this pulse, we flow as if riding a wave. No stiff, holding poses in a Shiva Rae class!

When I attended my first Shiva Rae class a year ago, I fell back in love with yoga. Yoga for me had been about stretching and breathing and going into a meditative space. With Shiva Rae I took it to another level, entering an almost trance-like space during my practice, a way of being which stayed with me throughout the day, the week, for months.

What makes Shiva really shine is her apparent lack of ego. She shuns center, front stage in favor of the floor where she teaches surrounded by her students, moving through the crowd. And she connects eye to eye and respects and pays homage to the locals, whatever country she is in.

And so, in tropical heat that hovered in the high 30’s, and crowding that had us nose to stranger’s bottom, we flowed with Shiva.

After class, first time Shiva Rae student Patricia told me , “Normally when I go to a yoga class I look for release through alignment and holding a pose. What I took out of Shiva’s class is freedom and peacefulness in movement and flow of energy. It felt amazing and the music made me come alive. To think you can do a graceful downward dog, and pulse while in the pose. Graceful and flowing. What is downward dog anyway and why do we call it downward dog? What is your downward dog? What do you feel like doing? What feels good? It’s tuning in to what’s going on during the pose and altering it to what feels good to you, not just what someone tells you you’re supposed to do. That’s the connection I got from class. Shiva Rae took yoga out of the box, off the mat.”

Written by : Robin Sparks

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