For the last several years, I’ve asked myself what a “yoga crib” is. This year, I decided to finally find out. According to the New World Dictionary, one of the definitions of a “crib” is something “woven” or a “basket.”
The Ojai Yoga Crib, held the last weekend of October, was a weave of nine teachers leading classes in beautiful venues throughout the quaint little town of Ojai, CA.
Before arriving in Ojai, I received maps and my schedule of practices with the five teachers I had requested. Upon arriving, I went to my room at Meditation Mount, a beautiful retreat center up on a hill overlooking the valley where wildlife is abundant. As I waited for the events to begin, I watched Ojai transform from a little town known for its “no commitments” attitude to a place where hundreds of us came to commit to our chosen practices. There were hundreds of yogis around town getting to know each other and weaving lives together. Since Ojai has one main street, traffic got a little backed-up as yogis were seemingly everywhere. Mats in hand, they floated around at their own pace or in varying states of Samadhi. The headquarters was smack in the middle of town, where the yogis congregated.
The Yoga Crib is put on by Lulu Bandhas, Ojai’s yoga studio, owned by Kira Ryder. Like a mother, Kira held space for everyone at the crib. The 2.5-hour classes were all infused with laughter. There were seasoned yogis and beginners of all ages. It seemed like everyone felt comfortable and had a good time.
My first class was with Dharma Mitra. He kept all of us smiling (even as his series of asanas got tougher) while explaining how God is in everything and should be in our hearts always.
My next classes were with Raye, whose class was a wonderful blend of sukha and sthira (pleasure and steadiness) and Eric Shiffman, one of my favorite teachers. I’m going back next year in hopes of Patricia Sullivan, Dana Flynn, Paul Grilley, and Jason Crandell being there again.
However, the highlight of the weekend had to be the bus ride out to the hills where we hiked up to a beautiful meditation room to hear Joel Kramer
. He is the author of The Passionate Mind and The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Mind, co-authored by Diana Alstad, who was also there. Joel spoke on yoga and evolution even though he had not spoken publicly in 20 years. We laughed and cried as he asked introspective questions.
There were evening programs too—a dharma talk with Edward Espe Brown, and Kirtan with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band. There wasn’t much free time, but I think it’s best to go with a friend that you can pal around with and dine at some of the really good places to eat.
All of this happened in this beautiful “valley of the moon,” as Ojai is sometimes called. Only 1-1/2 hours from LA, Ojai is a spiritual community with many retreat centers, awesome hikes, and lots of yoga. The Ojai valley was a basket, or crib, that held a couple hundred yogis, while we played, practiced, and wove our lives together.