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Bhakti Fest Midwest Day One: “We’re in Wisconsin, drop your udders. Drop your pretenses too.”

Bhatki Yoga: the yoga of love and devotion.

“We’re in Wisconsin, drop your udders. Drop your pretenses too.”—Darlene Vander Hoop

That’s the kind of cue she gives yogis flowing through cat cow pose in her Yin Aroma Master Class workshop at Bhakti Fest, in Madison WI. Five minutes later, she’s anointed your third eye center with frankincense, your second chakra is spinning with sensuality and creativity (oh yeah, say svadisthana—second primary chakra—three times real slow, it’s sensual), and you’re holding hands with strangers. Welcome to Bhakti Fest Midwest.


We hit the ground running in Justin Rivas’s Bhakti Flow Friday morning. We heard people (women) calling him a rock star, gossiping about his style (his lips) before class. He’s the 29 year old yoga teacher who wears really tight shorts and teaches a balls to the wall vinyasa that closes with the sweetest triple round of Om Namah Shivaya imaginable. It’s fair to say he had us in the palm of his baby soft hand.

The yoga high held strong through Karen Erstad and Jackie Meacham‘s Spark Your Inner Fire power flow. Two Baptiste style instructors, a hell of a lot of warriors I, II and III and 50 willing and able yogis transformed Yoga Hall II into a sea of love, sweat, and tears. Tears of joy, of course, as the last chaturanga bit the dust and it was time to roll up our mats and bounce to Donna De Lory, Dave Stringer, and Jai Uttal.

Music filled the air all night, along with the earthy scents of seitan, kombucha, hookah and hippies. The midwestern strong work ethic was on display on the grassy carpet in front of the show. Brothers and sisters from all walks of life were workin’ it like being in the Bhav was their job.

Donna De Lory performs at Bhakti Fest Midwest.

Donna De Lory said it best as she wished us all a goodnight. “You keep bringin’ it. I’ll keep bringin’ it. Consciousness and bliss.”

What will Saturday and Sunday at Bhakti Fest bring, Madison, WI? Keep your eye on YOGANONYMOUS.



Hally Marlino is a blue collar yoga teacher and writer from Madison, WI. She's a spirituality skeptic with a BA in Theatre Performance from UW-La Crosse. Years ago, she held a low rank in the U.S. Army. When she’s not teaching freestyle vinyasa around the isthmus, you’ll find her bike-riding and beer-appreciating with her family. Hally is exactly half ballerina, half professional wrestler. Connect with her on Facebook at YogaBeast or Tigress Press.

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