Transcendence in Telluride

P1010190The Inside Scoop on this year’s Telluride Yoga Festival

with featured teachers Allison English, Tias Little, and Karl Straub

We are getting pumped for this summer’s festival on July 11-14th. You are all internationally acclaimed teachers and have taught all over the world. What makes this festival different from others where you’ve taught?

Karl Straub: I have taught in many countries over the past 8 years, and I can report that the Telluride Yoga Festival experience is truly one of the best in the world.   Definitely part of that is the stunning environment, but it`s more than that, too.  The festival organizers make the participants as well as the instructors feel entirely supported, and so everyone feels a great sense of camaraderie and fun.  Not all festivals are so lucky.

Allison English: Yes, it’s an intimate setting. The teachers connect with one another more deeply than at other festivals and because TYF takes over the town, everyone ends up hanging around together and making friends.

As returning teachers, what keeps you coming back? 

Tias Little: Teaching in the midst of the grand granite peaks and riding the gondola with dear students and colleagues.

AE: Speaking of gondola rides, last year during my first ride up the gondola there was a GIANT bear below us. The gondola stopped for a few moments as it does from time to time and I got to see my first real lumbering bear from high above. It was magical and fascinating and that bear was BIG!

KS: Expect to have some epic adventures during the festival. Last year, I was hiking the Bear Creek trail with a few friends.  It was a warm sunny day, and when we reached the impressive cascade of Bear Creek Falls, the cool mist felt inviting, so after some preliminary toe testing, a couple of us waded out to a boulder which sat directly under the cascade.  We plunged into the rush of icy snow-melt.  I guess the water was just a few degrees above freezing.   This has a peculiar stimulating effect that yogis will appreciate.

First, holding involuntary pranayama: (gasp!) then holding…the….breathe…in….um…yes…still…in…not…by…choice…just…can’t….seem… to….move…ribs…diaphram…frozen…, then an involuntary exhale, AH-HA-HA-HAhhhhhh, then inhale (gasp!)…. holding…holding… and exhale, YAAAAAAAAh-Haa!  Inhale (gasp!) … WHOOOOOOOO-HA!  I distinctly felt the blood temperature shift hit my brain, and it gave me a physical sense of merging with the river.   For maybe three magical minutes I heard and felt only the Cascade.  No thoughts, just the sense, the experience newly carved in my breath and blood and skin. Invigorating! Then I became an amphibian after the first thaw, and creakily climbed out of Bear Creek Falls, directly into immediate luxury: embracing the biggest dry sun-heated boulder I could find.

Haha, yes, Colorado does have a power that transforms us radically.  I take it that even if you weren’t teaching, you would make the pilgrimage to the festival and be a student?

TL:  Definitely.  The mountains, valleys, and rivers of Telluride really stoke the pranic fires within.

KS: It is the perfect place to meet new and old friends, recharge on clear mountain air and sunshine, and catch a few classes with renowned yoga teachers from around the world.

AE: Yup, its like a yoga retreat and world-class yoga conference all wrapped up in one: physical beauty, incredible teachers, outdoor activities, great food.

Obviously, people come here to gear up their asana practices, being that the festival offers up to 8 hours of daily practice.  But what’s there to do in Telluride when you are not on the mat?

AE: Honestly, my favorite thing to do is get gluten-free pizza from Brown Dog Pizza or watching for the eagles down by the river that flows right through town.

KS: Hiking, chilling by the river, or gondola cruising!

TL: One image:  Doing pranayama at 11,000 feet!

AE:  Speaking of doing pranayama at high altitudes, here’s my memorable TYF story:  The first time I came to Telluride I was really nervous. I have never taught at high elevation – heck I’d never even been at high elevation! I didn’t know anyone except the students who came with me. As I was practicing one afternoon to prep for my session the next day, an eagle came flying by and was in view from my hotel window the whole time I practiced. I came up out of savasana and the eagle dove and was gone. Eagles are powerful medicine in my tradition – keepers of wisdom and the power of seeing the bigger picture in our life. Its message brought a great deal of Beauty to what I taught the next day.

We are pumped for this summer’s festival.  Any last words of encouragement for yogi who are still considering taking the journey?

KS: Now is the time!

AE: Honestly, this gathering of kind, brilliant and inspiring teachers combined with the power of the mountain environment is truly special.  You will leave feeling recharged, refreshed and revitalized. As a teacher, communing with others at this festival in this locale leaves me feeling uniquely stronger and more connected to my true self than any other festival out there.  See you there!

IMG_2237*photos curtesy of Karl Straub