A festival with no police and no security guards wandering around, lots of music and dancing, and large crowds under one roof. Sounds like an illusion in a world where people are so cautiously on guard in the presence of more than 10 people in a confined space. Byron Spirit Festival has been providing an inherently safe space for hundreds of spiritual pilgrims since 2011 and this year, ran a festival attended by thousands with not only no trouble (aside from weather!), but a sense of warmth and welcome.
Attendees of the three day festival – which was held for the first time at the Cavanbah Centre and Elements of Byron Resort – were treated to ecstatic dance in a silent disco, sound healings, meditation, huge yoga classes with tons of partner work and opening and closing circles, acro yoga, drumming circle, massage, breath work, talks, chanting, and live music into the night from Tijuana Cartel and OKA amongst others.
The stand out session for me, though, was the massive human mandala yoga session on Friday night. Accompanied by music from Murray Kyle, Si Mullumby, Rebekah Ray and Temple Step project, Gopala facilitated the largest yoga session I have ever seen, a feat in itself. However, having the group form a huge circle and perform the yoga poses in sync whilst joining hands and arms not only provided a beautiful vision of energetic flow, but created trust amongst the crowd to perform the asanas effortlessly with the support of neighbours on either side. Falling over would have created a domino effect within the mandala but this didn’t happen. “Alone the poses can be difficult, but together they are easy” was the simple but beautiful lesson Gopala imparted.
It’s easy to be cynical about a group of hippies paying to do weird stuff in large groups. But there’s a reason the Byron Spirit Festival and similar gatherings are so popular. There is a true sense of freedom, joy, connection and sometimes even enlightenment that comes from letting yourself go in an environment where you feel supported. Can’t wait for 2019.