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Create a Community at Bhakti Yoga Shala

By Jake Levin

In 1994, a health concern caused Govind Das to seek out yoga.

Living in Los Angeles, he tried a variety of yogic mediums (hatha, Ayurveda, Buddhist meditation, just to name a few). While taking a Power Yoga class, he met his wife-to-be, Jacqueline. Soon thereafter, the duo teamed up and shifted directions towards Bhakti Yoga. Fifteen years later, the end result was Bhakti Yoga Shala, a yoga studio established in the heart of Santa Monica, Calif.

"We have a very open and welcoming atmosphere," Das said. "Commonly instructors will invite people at the beginning of class to introduce themselves to their fellow classmates. We strongly believe in creating community."

Bhakti Yoga is often referred to as "Yoga of the Heart," or other times as "the Yoga of Love and Devotion." Weekly Kirtan nights at the studio, featuring chanting and live mantra music, display the love and devotion Bhakti students possess. There are several other instances of students at Bhakti Yoga Shala building that sense of community Das and his staff instill, such as Reiki healing trainings or special guest singers and bands. Every Sunday morning, Das and his wife teach a Kirtan class which is among the studio's most popular.

Sound healing, a deep sound-based meditation practice, feature guest teachers and have become incredibly popular classes. The medium uses the sound of vibration to help students open up and receive the healing energy.

"A sound healing practitioner might use gongs, singing bowls, drums and other instruments during an event," Das said. "But singing and music is intertwined throughout many of [our] yoga classes and other events because it is an important part of Bhakti yoga. Sound Healing, chanting, and music is a great way to raise one's vibration and strengthen the connection to Spirit."

It's an honor when a perspective student walks through the doors of Bhakti Yoga Shala, Das said. As he recalls, there's an old yogic saying, "Treat anyone that walks into your home like God," which is certainly something he and his staff adhere to at Bhakti Yoga Shala.

"Our family is dedicated to sharing these practices in a joyful and spirited way," Das said. "We want the person who is trying yoga for the first time to feel welcome as well as the experienced yogi. Everyone is on a unique path and it is our commitment to offer a nurturing path of healing, balance and joy."

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