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San Francisco: YJ Conference (Rod Stryker and Michael Franti)

I just got home from the first day of my first Yoga Journal conference. Whew! If you attended any of the events today, you know the buzz of excitement in the air. I'll be posting a blog every night about the conference—PLEASE write in and share your own stories!

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So, this morning I scraped in just 10 minutes before my first class (yeah, I admit, I couldn't find the hotel at first—a little embarrassing!). Despite the crowds, registration went pretty quickly and I arrived at Rod Stryker's day-long course, Tantra Yoga: Asana, Bandha, and Beyond, only a few minutes late. Rod's practice, which is also known as ParaYoga, is a combination of three aspects of yogic tradition: ayurveda, classical yoga, and Tantra. We focused mostly on Tantra, but Rod was great at pointing out the places where Tantra and classical yoga (derived from Patanjali's sutras and that sort of thing) differed. For instance, in Tantra, moksha (spiritual liberation) and bhoga (delight from worldly pleasures) are not seen as mutually exclusive, whereas in classical yoga, it is generally deemed that you must limit bhoga (like, say, sex and chocolate) to reach moksha.

I love philosophical discussions about yoga and we had a lot of them aboutthe different tantric paths, the use of bandhas, and the acceptance of desire. We also practiced some asana, and Rod held us in some poses—like dhanurasana—for long periods of time to generate heat and prana. We closed meditatively with a mantra called Maya Mitron Jaya, which Rod said was good for eradicating fear.

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After a long day spent with the brilliant Mr. Stryker (and also socializing with all of the familiar faces at the conference), I was truly beat. I had a ticket to see Michael Franti's benefit concert for YouthAIDS, but I had to drag myself there. I am so glad I did. I'd never seen him play live before. Wow. That someone can sing about peace and war and love and justice with such gentle passion and strength moved me to shake my tired booty—and, at times, shed a few tears. Michael's guitarist was equally talented, and Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer did AcroYoga for the crowd. It was such a phenomenal show. Did anyone else attend?

Off to rest in preparation for day two. Please let us know how your time at YJSF 2008 is going!

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