Pranafest 21- A Thorough Summary, Highlights, and Take-Aways from the Hardcore Yogi
“Humans are at their healthiest when they hug twelve times a day,” was a common sentiment this weekend. High on hugs and pure prana, there were many transformations at the Sunshine Coast’s first Pranafest.
This festival struck me as different, compared with the raunchy raves and folk shenanigans of old. I do love a good party, yet the qualities of Pranafest were refreshing. Early to bed and early to rise, keeps a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Sleep quality is one of my highest values, and with the Pranafest program running from 6am- 10pm, I was able to swim in some deep Z’s.
Sobriety and drug use was another quality I valued. At the volunteer meeting on Thursday night, someone asked, “Is this a drug and alcohol free event?” “We don’t promote drug and alcohol use,” said the manager Brett, “But we won’t be policing it. People are free to experience Pranafest however they like. We want to show that you don’t have to be smashed off your face to be high vibe.” The weekend took shape accordingly. People were free to have a little something here and there, but by and large people chose to be clean and clear as the predominant flavour of the weekend. I have seen this done for one-night events, yet to see it done for several days of music in the bush was something different and special. It helped everyone feel more connected, in my opinion.
Onto the program highlights. At 6am Nirvair Devi and Dan Pauro kicked things off with their respective Kundalini Yoga and Sunrise Activation. Nirvair had us singing Sanskrit Mantras while Dan had us jumping in the ice-cold lake. Both included breathwork. It was a refreshing way to spend the morning, though some feedback floating around was that people craved a little more movement on such a cold early morning. In any case people got their quota of movement throughout the day.
A few workshops really stood out to me. Two of them were the New Earth Metta Breathwork and Sound Healing. During the breathwork session I had some emotional releases, and gained tremendous clarity about my newest niche and offering: Athletic yoga. Next was The New Earth sound healing, which had glimmers from The Beyond. Ben looped the didge and hang pan, while Sarah spoke powerful affirmations for each chakra. I often work with the chakras, yet she embellished them with even fuller and finer meaning.
Another couple of workshop highlights were Gwyn William’s Zenthai Flow and Lauren Cuthbert’s Art of Connection. They each shared a quality I enjoyed. There was an element of movement, followed by walking around and interacting with each other, touching each other, and coming together into a group huddle. I’ll never forget when Lauren directed us to all lay on the ground in a massive cuddle puddle of 100 plus people. She then quoted something Gwyn had said: “Wellness is a ‘we’ game, illness is an ‘I’ game.” If a hug gets you high, this got me magnitudes more high. I was seeing kaleidoscopes.
There were other amazing workshops I did not fully attend. Like Jackson James Kubian’s transformational dance and Trent Banyan's high on Chi. Yet from what I know of these men, it was quality.
On the music front we had some epic contenders. On the first night Oka and Sound of Hemp blasted us with some fast paced electronic roots, interwoven with the didgeridoo. I was throwing my arms and legs around like never before. Andy V and Raw Ordio pumped it on Saturday night, with their phat looping, remixing, and improvised lyrical shredding. There was a special moment where one of the artists invited the audience to say their life philosophy in seven words or less. Some of the lines I appreciated were,
“Everything has cracks, that’s where the light gets in” “No emotion is wrong if you remain the observer and not the reactor” “Hug more people longer”
On the acoustic front, I enjoyed Olivia Rosebery and The Stewards singing their earth songs to the beat of a medicine drum. And Nick Grivas from Liquid Lyrics interspersing some profound spoken word among his emceeing of the program.
The final night was the best. It always is, as the true faithfuls ride the wave of energy and unity which had been building for three days. After the closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon, we partied the night away. DJ Chilacayote kicked us off with a monstrous set. I had my shirt off in sub 10 degree weather. Then Andy V took over, allowing an inclusive jam over his jazzy hip hop tracks. I jumped on the mic for the first time in a while, rekindling my love for hip hop. It was a beautiful night, and out the window went my early sleep schedule.
This festival has re-awoken the sleeping giant within. 2021 had been very challenging, as I was struggling to regain direction and clarity in my life. I had tried both counselling and plant medicine as tools to regain this clarity. Yet they pale in comparison to the downloads from this weekend. Fully sober, bathing in the vibe, I dived deep into the transformative workshops. I suddenly had clarity for my newest niche and offering; Athletic yoga. My old passion of hip hop was rekindled. And I discovered a new love for the festival scene.
The direction now is to cultivate these offerings in movement and music, and to be more involved on the festival circuit. This is my calling and priority. My day job and personal budget will have to be more flexible, even if I live on the beans and rice diet from time to time. Stoicism is a great way to weather the storms of transition.
Much love and Namaste.