The Power of Mantras, Heart-Based Yoga (Bhakti) and Community with Govind Das and Radha [Episode #395]
Welcome to the Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder. Our goal is to help you be your most healthy, confident, beautiful and joyful! Our topics focus on health and wellness (physical, emotional/mental and spiritual), holistic nutrition, medicinal plants, natural rhythms and cycles, beauty, meditation, self care and rituals, spirituality and personal empowerment.
Feeling Good means we are healthy, balanced, peaceful, confident and joyful, right in the midst of our perfectly imperfect lives. Feeling Good requires us to tune in and nourish our whole selves, which is made up of the four Solluna Cornerstones: our food, our bodies, our emotional well-being and our spiritual growth. Feeling good naturally leads to also looking good, in a much more powerful way from glowing skin created from within, a beautifully healthy body, radiant energy, and a greater level of overall well-being and personal growth.
Every week, we provide you with interviews with top experts in their field to support you in living your most beautiful, inspired and joyful life, with a focus on physical health, wellness, meditation and spirituality and personal empowerment.
I’m your host, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist. I’m so grateful and honored we found each other!
I am so excited to have my very special guests, Govind Das and Radha, who arerenowned bhakti yoga teachers and kirtan singers whose soulful vinyasa classes and teachings have been a staple of the LA yoga scene for many years. Listen in as Govind and Radha share their journey in their path towards Bhakti Yoga, the spiritual element of chanting, and how you can incorporate it into your lives to start feeling good now, in your mind, heart, and overall health and wellness.
Govind and Radha share what Bhakti Yoga is…
Their path towards Bhakti and what it’s not about…
What the connection between the philosophy of love and devotion, and surrender are…
Breaking down the physical practice of yoga…
How self-discipline plays a role in your asana practice…
We discuss Solluna’s Four Pillars of Wellness in connection with yoga…
We chat about the ancient practices of kirtans, mantras and ancient vibrations and how it can protect and transform the mind and heart…
The spiritual element of chanting and how it integrates with moving meditation…
How being on a like-minded path through community and heart connection helps keep you connected…
How mantra keeps us present…
Incorporating Bhakti Retreats into your life and why…
About Govind Das and Radha
Govindas and his wife Radha are California-based bhakti yogis, kirtan singers, and as their spiritual names suggest, “Servants of the Divine”. They are a husband and wife team with great love and devotion for the Divine, their Guru, each other, and traditional yogic practices of India – This is the essence which is reflected and transmitted through their teachings and music.
Through the sacred practice of Kirtan, repetitiously chanting the names of God/Goddess from ancient India, they will guide you on a musical meditation and yogic adventure deep into the essence of Bhakti—the yoga of the Heart, the yoga of Love.
Through the grace of their teachers, they have uniquely melded ancient Indian mantras with western melodies, yet still playing traditional Indian instruments. Their music has been described as a trance inducing mandala, where the eyes close, voices and hearts open, and meditation, art, and prayer merge together as One. They lead Kirtan concerts, Bhakti yoga workshops, and transformative retreats throughout the world.
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Kimberly: Hey Beauties. Welcome back for a very special interview I have for you today. I’m actually in the room with the amazing Govind Das and his amazing wife Radha, who are renowned Bhakti yoga teachers and Kirtan singers here in LA. They are incredible. They have so much wisdom to share. We are going to have an amazing conversation with them today.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: But, before we get into it, I just want to take a moment to shout out our Fan of the Week, his or her name is INhealthcoach. He or she writes: I truly love you. I’ve been a follower for many years, your podcasts, your five books, GGS, Easy and Fast Recipes, 30-day Road Map. Joined the Feel Good Movement and it is truly amazing. I am feeling so good from being part of the community and the path I’m on with your leadership. I am so grateful for you and Caitlyn.
Kimberly: INhealthcoach thank you so much for your review. Thank you for being our Fan of the Week. Sending you so much love. So much gratitude. Sending you a huge virtual hug and I hope that we can get to connect in person one day.
Share The Podcast
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Interview withGovind Das and Radha
Kimberly: All that being said, let’s go right into our interview today with Govind Das and Radha. Hi guys, thank you so much for being her with us today!
Govind Das: Hey!
Radha: Hi! Namaste.
Govind Das: It’s an honor to be here with you.
Bhakti Yoga Felt Like Home
Kimberly: So I just want to preface this by saying that after college I went to India. I went around the world. I got really into yoga and meditation. Then I moved to New York. I found this Bhakti yoga studio called… It was Dharma Mittra’s studio and it was all about love and the devotional aspect of yoga and connecting with ourselves and connecting with oneness. It felt like I was home. It felt like everything. Then when I moved to LA. I didn’t find a single Bhakti yoga studio anywhere. Anywhere! I lived in West Hollywood, then I moved to Venice, was all around and then one day I found yogi Bhakti…
Govind Das: Bhakti Yoga Shala
What Bhakti Yoga Is
Kimberly: Bhakti Yoga Shala and I walked in and I felt like I was home. Which is your guy’s studio. It is so different than anything else, it is so amazing. First of all, can you explain to our listeners, maybe what Bhakti yoga is. There is still a physical component obviously, but how it’s different than maybe, not better or worse, but how it’s different than going to a power yoga class or a gym yoga class. If you can explain a little bit about, first of all, what it is?
Govind Das: Bhakti first it’s a very traditional, ancient, path of yoga. It’s sometimes described as the path of the heart. The path of love. The path of devotion.
Govind Das: As well too, it’s one way that we could really describe Bhakti is that it’s about the cultivation of a relationship with the divine. A very personal, and intimate, and loving relationship with God. With God as we know there are so many different names of the divine. Whether you call it God or Jesus or Allah or Adonai or Rama or Krishna. Depending on whatever culture you come from or part of the world you may have been brought up in. Bhakti is about that relationship. A loving relationship, with the source, with the supreme.
Govind and Radha’s Path Towards Bhakti
Kimberly: A lot of us are kind of… How shall I say it? Just a little bit put off by organized religion. I was raised Catholic. You were raised Jewish. Sometimes we hear about religion. Oh that’s not what I want. Where is this is very different. It’s spiritual. It not as formal and organized. Can you guys talk about your own path to finding it? How it’s different than organized religion, how it feels different. It’s very inclusive, it’s very loving. When we talk about the divine, it’s not dogmatic at all.
Govind Das: Yes, and I think that’s what we really love about this path is that it is not dogmatic.
Govind Das: Okay. So, the Bhakti, it’s not dogmatic. It’s about love. Love is, as my Buddha Neem Karoli Baba said, a very famous quote, “Love is the strongest medicine”.
Govind Das: Love is what heals us. Love is what transforms an ordinary life to an extraordinary life. Love is the elixir that turns us on, and wakes us up, and heals our hearts. So Bhakti, it’s about love. The essence of it, it’s about love.
Govind Das: Specifically, and this is what’s really interesting, is we’ve heard this from the western spiritual traditions, something like “Love thy God with all thine heart”. Something like that, I wasn’t very good at… You know, and Hebrew school and all that. I didn’t pay so much attention.
Govind Das: But, that’s the essence of what Bhakti is. You cultivate this loving relationship. You surrender to the supreme. And I know that sounds very religious, like those kinds of words, the practices of Bhakti. But, the whole recognition is that God gives us everything. Everything. It is only by God’s devine grace that we’re even here to talk to eachother. That our hearts are beating and our breath is breathing.
Govind Das: And so, with that recognition, naturally what happens is gratitude. So we come to source with that flavor, that feeling that rasa, that taste of gratitude and love. That you give us everything, all the time, every moment, including this very breath that we’re breathing. So, I just want to serve you. I just want to live as a divine servant. I want to do my part. We want to do our part to make this world a better place.
Govind Das: And so, the practices of Bhakti help us to, as it’s described, polish the dust off the mirror of the mind and the heart, so that we can live as that instrument of love and gratitude.
Kimberly S: For me, the somewhat ironic part is, when I went to Dharma Studio in New York and it was devotional. It was about love. It was about community. But at the same time, when you have that focus… I was going into these poses and I felt like physically, I was sort of in the best shape ever.
Kimberly S: And it’s the same thing when I practice with you guys. It is love, it’s oneness. It’s about feeling that. Getting past our ego, getting past the walls we build.
The Connection Between Philosophy of Love, Devotion, and Surrender
Kimberly S: But the physical practice is actually quite strong. So, can you both speak a bit about the connection between the philosophy of love and devotion, and surrender. Serving the community. In the west, some people think of Yoga, they think just of the poses. Just of the physical part. So can you talk about the connection between the two?
Radha: Yeah, well I think Govind Das and even myself, that came for many years, came from Power Yoga.
Kimberly S: Did you? Did you start there? I didn’t know that.
Radha: It’s how we met
Govind Das: Mid 19 [crosstalk]
Radha: Really! So was that a devotional practice at all? Or not really?
Govind Das: Well, it was. I mean that’s what we brought into it. And that was sort of the impetus of it as well, too. Wanting to start our own center.
Radha: Opening our own studio.
Kimberly S: Okay.
Govind Das: Because people would come to our class and they were incongruent in a sense. There’s Power Yoga, strong, but at the same time we were offering this message of Bhakti. So we felt like we wanted to just create a-
Kimberly S: It’s very unique. Like I said.
Govind Das: Specifically.
Kimberly S: To get both.
Radha: And I think, yes. We recognize that the physical practices, it’s a big part of that. But it’s not-
Kimberly S: Everything.
Radha: Yeah, but just all the yoga. So our intention is to, how can we bring this Bhakti and this devotion into the way that we move. So we’re not just listening to our ego. Harder, faster, deeper.
Kimberly S: Right, right.
Radha: Stronger. We’re listening to our bodies. We’re taking Child’s Pose when we need to. We’re taking modifications, or intensifying it if we have that amount of energy, god bless you if you have that energy to do some extra push ups.
Radha: And then, we also have classes that we offer where we’re actually chanting mantras in the poses.
Kimberly S: Right
Radha: So, that adds a whole nother element onto it. Because the Bhakti is bringing the Bhakti into the love and the devotion into the way that we move, but it’s also a big part of Bhakti is kirtan. It’s chanting, it’s devotional chanting.
Radha: And for me, I grew up singing, preforming, even sometimes getting a score on my performance. And it wasn’t until I met Govind Das and I was introduced to this path of kirtan, where I realized that it wasn’t about how I sound, it’s about how I feel when I close my eyes. And I start chanting the mantras, at the beginning I didn’t even necessarily know what these mantras meant, but I knew how much they made me feel. It’s opened my voice and my throat up so much more than-
Kimberly S: And your heart.
Radha: And my heart.
Kimberly S: Wow.
Radha: Through these practices.
The Physical Practice of Yoga
Kimberly S: And these are ancient practices. And when you guys are doing your kirtans, ancient mantras and ancient vibrations, which the yogis said did change our constitution. They did change how we feel, they change how we show up in the world. It changes everything inside of us.
Govind Das: Yes. I want to touch upon that. But I also want to go back to one last thing about the physical practice.
Kimberly S: Yeah, please.
Govind Das: And how a strong physical practice comes into play as well, too. What Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavad Gita is one of the ancient scriptures that we have in Yoga. And one of the shlokas is reshape yourself through your own will.
Govind Das: Well, one of the ways that we can reshape ourselves is though practicing Asana. And I don’t mean just necessarily physically reshaping ourselves, but yes, physically reshaping ourselves as well too.
Govind Das: So, I think what he means when he says reshape ourselves, it’s more so reshape our minds and reshape our hearts in the direction of focus, clarity, truth, love, kindness, compassion, these types of things.
Self-Discipline’s Role & Your Asana Practice
Govind Das: But also, we know that discipline is so important on this planet.
Kimberly S: It’s true.
Govind Das: It’s vital. And self discipline is an expression of self-love. And through the Asana practice, we disipline not only our bodies, but we also discipline our energies and direct the flow of prana. And of course, disipline our breath as we’re in these poses and we move with our breathing in Vinyasa practice. And of course disipline our minds with the way that we focus as well, too.
Govind Das: So I just want to come back to that.
Kimberly S: Yes.
Govind Das: I didn’t want to drop that so easy because traditionally, Bhakti can be brought into anything. It’s not necessarily directly related to physical yoga practice. But, to do any practice, you need Bhakti, you need devotion. You need that sense of dedication.
Solluna’s Four Pillars of Wellness
Kimberly S: Well, here at Solluna in our community, we talk about the Four Pillars of Wellness. One is food, I started out as a nutritionist. Number two is body, how we move. How we take care of our body. Third is emotional well-being. And fourth is spiritual growth.
Kimberly S: So, if you don’t touch on one, then you tend to over imbalance. So I find people that aren’t in touch with their feelings, or are not in touch with the spirit inside of them, they get get obsessed with food, or they get obsessed with their body.
Kimberly S: So, what you were saying Govind Das, about taking care of the body. It is important, because otherwise it’s hard to meditate if we’re sick, if we’re stiff. Then we can’t really sit. So the physical practice is really important.
The Spiritual Element of Chanting
Kimberly S: But for me the experience, and I get goosebumps when I come to Bhakti Yoga Shala, and I’m moving. But there’s this element of the chanting, and the spirituality and the love.
Govind Das: This is what we call a body prayer.
Kimberly S: The integration, it’s a moving meditation.
Govind Das: It’s a moving meditation, but even beyond a moving meditation. It’s a full body prayer.
Kimberly S: Full body prayer.
Govind Das: It’s the devotional aspect, the component is in the asana. And the heart is it. The heart is the center of all of this. There’s this old saying that all yoga traditions, they all converge in the heart. So if we’re not bringing the heart, what lives in the heart? The spirit lives in the heart. The soul lives in the heart. If we’re not bringing the heart in it, we’re probably at some point going to feel like somethings missing.
Govind Das: And that’s we’re Bhakti comes in.
Kimberly S: And that’s where I feel like it’s so integrated. Because it’s not saying oh… Again, not saying there’s anything wrong with different practices, but I feel the oneness in it. I’m chanting and I’m moving my body. And I just feel so connected. It’s not saying I’m going to meditate and then I’m going to do my other class over here.
Kimberly S: But I get out of the class, and I’m like wow, I’m kind of sore, I really… We talk about tapas a little bit too, this fire, this transformation.
Govind Das: And that’s the amazing thing about a physical yoga practice. Everything has to be integrated into the physical world. In this human experience.
Kimberly S: Yeah, we’re having an embodied experience.
Govind Das: Were having it. And that’s the beauty of asana, is that spirituality becomes embodied in a physical experience when we do our yoga practice.
Kimberly S: So-
Govind Das: And that’s why I believe yoga, 40 million people are practicing yoga everyday, or something like that number in America right now, because people are feeling it.
Kimberly S: Do you think… This is a loaded question. There are limitations, I think, people are where they are. Limitations to just a physical yoga practice, because then you miss the heart, too. And of course, that people are drawn to that, that’s where they are. They’re still going to get benefits.
Kimberly S: But I’m so passionate about having you both on the podcast to talk about this aspect. This form of yoga, which is really… If I’m going to do physical yoga practice, I want it to be Bhakti. I want it to be this. And you have to seek it out. You guys have created something in the middle of Santa Monica.
Kimberly S: Guys, their yoga studio is in basically the commercial center of LA, the promenade. This like-
Govind Das: The center of Maya.
Kimberly S: The center of Maya next to Forever 21, some of these stores. And here’s this Bhakti yoga studio with Hanuman, and the deities, and this chanting. You guys put a stake right in the middle of commercialism. This is what’s needed.
Govind Das: I thought that in India, everywhere you go there’s temples.
Kimberly S: Everywhere!
Govind Das: In the middle of the city.
Kimberly S: That’s it!
Govind Das: And so, let’s put the stakes [crosstalk]
Kimberly S: I love it.
Govind Das: And, it’s so important because the work the yogis are doing has always been greatly honored, traditionally. That this work is very, very, very important.
Kimberly S: Yes.
Govind Das: For the collective! Keeping the vibrational waves clean. And countering the negativity as a well too.
Radha: Lifting the consciousness. For us, we came from power yoga, we thought it’s like a block up the street. Everyone’s just going to come and follow. Our students will come. But really, we have to start from scratch, once we move. And we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary, and it’s so beautiful to see the community that we’ve met. People that are getting married now, we’re literally going to have a wedding at the Yoga Shala.
Kimberly S: Really?
Radha: It’s a first. But people have met there. It’s just so beautiful.
Kimberly S: It’s amazing.
A Like-Minded Path Through Community and Heart Connection
Radha: The relationships that have formed. And people come there because they want to meet like-minded people on the path. And as we said, it’s not one way or the other way.
Kimberly S: Yeah. Sure.
Radha: We’re accepting everyone. All religions, all skin colors, whatever your bank account. It doesn’t matter.
Kimberly S: It’s community.
Radha: It’s for us to come together. And people call it their haven, or their church sometimes, or their place to come. And I know we feel that.
Kimberly S: To feel connected.
Govind Das: It’s just we’re all seeking that heart connection. I really, really believe it. Whether it’s little children or adults. Ultimately we all just want a heart connection. We want heart connection with each other, and I think in the highest sense we want that heart connection, the spirit.
Govind Das: We know that things of the material world will never fulfill us. They will never completely fulfill us. They may give us a little bit, whether it’s more money-
Kimberly S: Little dopamine dump, that lasts a little bit!
Govind Das: But the only thing that really satisfies us to the core is that love. That deepest place of love.
Govind Das: In Bhakti yoga, in what’s called prama, which is devine love. Love for god, love for the source. Love for the self, love for spirit, love for life. So we’re taught we have to fall in love with our lives, and people sometimes hear that first. Well, that crazy! With all of the challenge, and all of the difficulty, and all of the obstacles. And all of the death, and all of the divorce and all of it. How can I possibly fall in love with life?
Govind Das: Well, that’s the practice that we have to keep reaching deeper and deeper and deeper into our hearts. And break down the walls, and somehow find that love and trust. That all of it, all of it, the whole play, is just the devine play.
Kimberly S: So, we talked a lot about the practice. There’s the physical part. There is the-
Govind Das: Let’s talk about meditation.
Kimberly S: Yes. So there’s meditation, but let’s finish with the chanting part. Because that is a big part of-
Govind Das: It’s a huge part.
Kimberly S: The practice and for both of you. I know you have a lot of music on Spotify. There music is incredible. They sing together, they sing separate. They have classes where they chant during the class. But you can find it on Spotify. We will link to it in the show notes.
Kimberly S: So, why is that such an important part of the practice? I know we talked about the vibration. But, could you just sum it up. Like what these mantras do to us.
Govind Das: There’s this word, mantra.
Kimberly S: Yes.
The Ancient Practices of Kirtans, Mantras and Ancient Vibrations
Govind Das: Mantra, it means a tool to protect and transform the mind and the heart.
Kimberly S: A tool to protect and transform-
Govind Das: The mind and the heart.
Kimberly S: Wow.
Govind Das: So, it’s ancient technology that the yogis have given us. We all have this crazy mind, that goes into these [crosstalk 00:15:33]. Everybody’s got it. Nobody’s void of it.
Kimberly S: The ego! The self doubt.
Govind Das: So mantra is this direct technology to keep us present, and to keep us in the right place.
Kimberly S: Do you have to say it? Or I listen to a lot of mantras.
Govind Das: Listen to it. Listening is very important. It’s called shraddha. Just listening is great, too.
Kimberly S: I have it on all the time. But, there’s a benefit of actually… Kirtan is calling response.
Govind Das: It’s chanting.
Kimberly S: So, when you’re chanting, what’s going on there?
Govind Das: Well Kim, let me just say one last thing. Long have the yogis known that sound influences consciousness. Sound will influence your state of mind. It’s just the way it is.
Kimberly S: Well there was sound before form.
Govind Das: Yes.
Kimberly S: In the Bible it talks about that. The sound coming.
Govind Das: First was the sound, first was the sound.
Radha: And I mean, I know for myself, I could be feeling like really not good going into a kirtan. Maybe sometimes we’ve had an argument right before. I mean, we’re real. We’re humans. But, buy the end of that kirtan, I promise you. It happens all the time. Whatever we were bickering about, whatever I was feeling-
Kimberly S: It’s gone.
Radha: It’s gone. Now it’s the love.
Kimberly S: It resets you.
Govind Das: And the traditional teaching is that chanting these sacred mantras, it cleanses the heart. It’s a very mysterious thing.
Kimberly S: Yeah. We don’t know, but it’s doing something.
Govind Das: It cleanses the heart. And we want to know why in the West. The scientific reasons, and now they’re actually starting to recognize when people chant together their heartbeats start to line up.
Kimberly S: Right.
Govind Das: Their breath starts to line up.
Kimberly S: Their nervous system calms down.
Govind Das: Yes. There is something about chanting these vibrations that cleanses us. And you feel this opening in your heart.
Radha: And there’s all different moods of kirtan. There’s just a mellow mood, where maybe it’s like more inward. But usually, every single chant ends up and we’re dancing.
Kimberly S: Yes. Joyful.
Radha: The drums are just going off, and it’s like that ectatic feeling. And I see it. I can see it every Sunday. Govind Das guides the class, and I’m singing the whole class. And throughout that class, we’re not singing every single pose for the whole two hours, we drop it in. And then eventually, we end up in a dance party with drums.
Radha: And, I can see sometimes people’s transformation. Maybe they’re a little resistant at the beginning, thinking oh gosh, what did my friend bring me to? By the time the drums rocking and we’re chanting, they’re just like a little kid! Dancing. And I see that.
Kimberly S: Wow.
Radha: Because I felt that myself. I still do but every once in a while really see that person whose struggling. And then by the end all that ego is gone. And they’re just right back in the heart.
Kimberly S: Amazing.
Govind Das: And the beauty of that particular style of kirtan is that it gives us an opportunity to celebrate the gift of life. The gift that we’ve been given, the present moment. And we need to celebrate because in that celebration it nourishes our joy.
Govind Das: It’s so easy, in the world that we live in, to become overcome by all of the negativity. The depression, the hatred, all of this kind of stuff. So, we need practices to actually lift us up. And that singing and dancing, there’s nothing like singing and dancing together, truly.
Kimberly S: What I feel like is such a beautiful counterpart to meditation, which is the stillness going inside. The singing, the kirtan, it’s connective. Community, celebration.
Kimberly S: So then, the meditation part is part of class. It is part of your personal practice.
Govind Das: Yes. Absolutely.
Kimberly S: And are you following some of the… I know Neem Koroli Baba is your guru. So is it a specific breath practice?
Govind Das: Well, it could be mantra, it could be breath practice. We’ve both been influenced by also different styles of meditation. But, I think meditation is how we connect with our devine self. It’s where we play.
Kimberly S: Everything.
Govind Das: It’s where we find out those intimate, intimate part of ourself when we quiet down the noise. Then we can really let go.
Kimberly S: It’s everything.
Radha: And I think for us, we use the practice of Japa a lot, which is with your beads and repeating mantra. I think 99% of the time, more recently. I just love it. I just have really good beads, I feel naked without them because I didn’t bring them. I just like that, repeating the mantra. And you can repeat any mantra.
Govind Das: You can even repeat an English mantra. You can repeat love, love, love.
Kimberly S: What is the one you usually use?
Govind Das: Well, Neem Koroli gave us this mantra, Ram.
Kimberly S: Oh yeah.
Govind Das: What is Ram? Ram is one of the names of god. But Ram could be related as well to us as integrity, and truth, and perfect compassion. Of love. And just all goodness.
Kimberly S: Yes.
Govind Das: Embodied. And so, these deities from India, they can be used in many ways. And one of these ways that they can be used is archetypes. Is that we can begin to model our own behavior after that particular deity.
Kimberly S: Because it’s inside of us.
Govind Das: They’re all inside.
Radha: In all aspects.
Kimberly S: When I started getting into yoga, growing up in the Christian lineage, there was so much misunderstanding. Like Hinduism is about a million different gods and all these things. And you realize that’s not so. It is Brahma. It is the devine.
Kimberly S: But you guys see here in my room, I’ve got a million of them. I love my Durga for strength, and Saraswati, and Hanuman. So to me, I see it as you were saying Govind Das, just an aspect that we’re trying to call forth. It is inside of us. But it’s not like we’re just worshiping a monkey or an elephant, or all these different things. It’s all one.
Govind Das: Yes. And that’s I think the common mistake that people consider Hinduism a polytheistic culture, vs a monotheistic culture. And anyone who has any depth of understanding knows that these different expressions, or faces, whether it’s Hanuman or Durga. They are just all faces of one god. That it is really at the core of monotheistic. It is just all brahma, it is all sub ec.
Radha: And as Maharani said, yes. Sub ec.
Govind Das: Sub ec. Just one.
Kimberly S: Wait, what’s the word? Sub ec?
Govind Das: Sub ec. In Hindi
Kimberly S: Sub ec.
Govind Das: It’s just one. There’s just one supreme-
Radha: Many names.
Govind Das: One supreme, devine, loving intelligence.
Govind Das: And the beauty is that these forms that we have, the different deities, give us different ways to express our devotion as well, too. That we can meet the goddess. We can meet God in these different moods and energies. If we need to call on strength, we call on Durga. If we’re artistic in our health, and wellbeing and beauty and good fortune, Lakshmi. Saraswati for any artistic expression.
Radha: Ganesha, remover of obstacles.
Kimberly S: Obstacles. Yes. And remind us how resourceful we are.
Govind Das: These are all forms of the one. Just energies of the one. And they all live inside, because god lives inside of us.
Govind Das: And for people… We’ve seen it though the years a lot. We live in a Judeo-Christian culture, and some people they can’t cross that boundary. And respect. If that’s where you are we respect that and honor that.
Kimberly S: Right, right. But I think a lot of it is misunderstanding, and just a little bit of information to know that it’s aspects. It’s not that.
Kimberly S: But, in our times now, there’s anxiety, insomnia, unprecedented amounts of pharmaceuticals. Opioids, addiction.
Kimberly S: I heard you say in class once, Govind Das, that yoga is one of the most potent medicines of this time. You’ve had the studio now for 10 years, you were teaching before that. Can you talk a little bit about… We keep talking about oneness, and it seems like a lot of these disorders, to me, feel like we’re just not remembering who we really are. There’s fragmentation within ourself.
Kimberly S: How can yoga really help these very modern issues? Which are timeless, but now it seems like they are getting more and more. There’s social media, there’s stress, comparison, there’s a lot.
Radha: There’s just so many distractions that are keeping us away from really just listening to what we need. And so, yoga, meditation, kirtan, it gives us an opportunity. We carve this time out of our precious life. There’s so many things that we could be doing at every moment, living in this big city as human beings. And it gives us an opportunity to carve that time out and go within, and listen.
Radha: And I think that in this world that we’re living in there’s just so many distractions, so much stimulation taking us outside. Okay, I can do this, I can do that instead of just going within. And so I feel like this is a very big part of the blessing of yoga.
Kimberly S: It’s an inward practice.
Radha: Yeah. Helps quiet the mind. To listen really what’s going on. How can we quiet the mind, quiet the ego. To really feel and listen to what we need, and how we can be of service.
Govind Das: Yeah, we’re sick. We’re a sick culture. It’s very very clear. We’re the sickest. And you just said it, most medicated culture that’s ever lived on the planet.
Govind Das: And we look at why, is because we’re so busy. We’re chasing things on the outside. We’re constantly in this sympathetic nervous system. We’re excited. We’re activated at all times. We’re in this fight or flight state. And because of that, the body is experiencing inflammation. And if that inflammation isn’t taken care of, it can lead to much more bigger health concerns. And lead to problems. Heart disease, cancer, all of these types of things.
Govind Das: And so, one of the things that we’re doing is shifting into more of this what’s called a parasympathetic state. Which is more of a calm, an inward relaxed and at ease with life itself when we do our practice. When we meditate. And this is huge, because this is where the body heals itself. And this is where the body repairs itself on a physical level.
Govind Das: But, on a more inner psycho and spiritual level, this is where we begin to remember who we really are. And find the answers. The old yoga teaching is you don’t have to look outside of yourself for the answers. That the answers are within. But we have to take that time to turn within, and be very patient with ourselves. And as Radha just said, get very quiet and really listen.
Radha: Slow down.
Govind Das: And slow down. And those answers will reveal themselves to us. But we have to be willing to take that time everyday for ourselves. And we’re so exited and so busy, we wake up, the first thing we do is check our phones.
Kimberly S: Get our phones!
Govind Das: Our phones, and all the way until we go to bed at night.
Kimberly S: And then we can’t sleep. We have to coffee in the morning.
Govind Das: We need to break the link. We need to break the chain somehow. And that’s what self-care, and what your doing such amazing work-
Kimberly S: Thank you.
Govind Das: Is helping us to remember the importance of wellness and self care.
Radha: Because it says-
Govind Das: Though diet. I mean this is part of the important one.
Kimberly S: First. Yeah. Certainly not the end, but the beginning.
Govind Das: Friends and teachers, her names Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. And she really believes, I’ve heard her say this multiples times, that all of the problems that are happening in the world right now are because of diet.
Kimberly S: And what it does to the mind, and the vibration, and the body and everything.
Radha: Yeah, and you know all the great yogis and teachers… If we can’t take care of ourself, we’re not willing to give back and nurture ourself from food to meditating, to getting out in nature, then how are we possibly going to love anyone else.
Kimberly S: That’s right.
Radha: It’s not as easy to do, but that’s the practice of Bhakti. To remember that it’s not just something that we want to practice at Bhakti Yoga Shala, it’s a way of life.
Kimberly S: It’s a lifestyle.
Radha: It’s what we want to bring into the way we make our food, the way that we play with our children, to everything. We’re bringing that devotion into everything that we do.
Kimberly S: We talk about the word remember a lot. And Ram Daas, Be Here Now, says love, serve, remember. What do you think we need to remember? What do you think is the core thing that we’ve forgotten? I know that’s a big question!
Govind Das: It’s a great question. Because in Bhakti yoga, there’s nine limbs. And one of the limbs is called Smarana. And that word, Smarana, it means to remember.
Govind Das: But it’s a really interesting remembrance. And the remembrance is that God’s presence is always here with us. And maybe we’ve heard this teaching from many spiritual traditions, that god is omnipresent. Omnipresent, omnipotent, omission. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present.
Kimberly S: So that means we’re also remembering that we are part of god.
Govind Das: And that we are a part and parcel of that devine energy. And that spirit. We have this solo, it was a lyric in one of our songs many years ago, “Have no fear, spirit is here”. Spirit is always here. But we forget that.
Kimberly S: We forget.
Govind Das: So we just live on the material level. And living on the material level, we are setting ourself up to be unhappy. Because, we feel like something’s missing. What we’re remembering is who we are, is that we’re a spiritual being. And we come into a human body, as a soul. We suffer from that amnesia, spiritual amnesia. We forget who we are. We get overly attached to the material world. Which is a part of it. We don’t want push away [crosstalk]
Kimberly S: But it’s not going to give us what we’re looking for.
Govind Das: It’s not who we really are. Maybe you’ve heard the teachings, I am not my body. I’m not my thoughts. I’m not my car, I’m not my house, I’m not my bank account, I’m not my emotions. Who I really am is a spirit and soul being.
Govind Das: And so we have to remember that. And as we remember that, we start to feel more whole. And then we start feeling like we’re not lacking. It’s that feeling like we’re lacking, that we start chasing things outside of ourselves. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail, that never catches itself. And we only perpetuate non-happy, unfulfilled state.
Govind Das: It’s the moment that we start to remember who we really are that the sense of forgetfulness dissolves, and we don’t need to chase outside. That were actually happy right here, right where we are.
Kimberly S: Messiness and all.
Govind Das: Messiness and all.
Kimberly S: Imperfections is all.
Radha: And we need to remember that we remind ourselves that this life is a gift. This life is a blessing. And just the fact that we’re alive right now, I mean what a miracle.
Radha: And how can we just keep reminding ourself of that. And bringing that energy into everything that we do. And we’re certainly not saying that we’re perfect, and we walk around like in Bhakti love all the time. We’re human beings. We’re parents. We’re husband and wife. All different roles that we play, but it’s a reminder. It’s a remembrance.
Govind Das: And I think the ultimate thing, this is kind of trippy for some people, but in the yoga tradition we’re always taught to meditate on death. And the thing is, truly, we think we’re in control of everything. When we live in the material world we’re trying to control material reality.
Govind Das: We never know when our last breath or last step will come in our lives. And truly, we never know what the next moment will bring in our lives. And how many times we’ve heard it, a friend gets in a car accident. Someones diagnosed with cancer. Someone died. We never, ever know.
Govind Das: And why we’re taught to meditate on that is because when we meditate on death, actually it wakes us up to life.
Kimberly S: Oh my gosh.
Govind Das: It wakes us up to the present moment, and the precious miracle that life truly is.
Radha: As Ram Daas says, be here now. It’s all we got.
Govind Das: Be here now. And all we ever truly have is the present moment.
Kimberly S: That’s right.
Govind Das: And one of my favorite quotes, that I just was turned on to from Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Vietnamese monk, he says “It’s in the present moment. That’s where you experience the kingdom”. The kingdom of life, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of god. It only happens in the present moment. That the sacred dwells in the present moment. And that’s what this remembering is all about. Remember to come back to the present moment. Remember that spirit is always here. That God’s presence is right now, is this moment. The messiness and all of it is the perfect unfolding of that devine cosmic blend.
Kimberly S: Beautiful.
Govind Das: And we have our own ability to co-create with that. To participate intentionally. Because, we are a part of it. We are a part of the devine, as we just said.
Kimberly S: But I like that, co-creating. Because, it means we’re not fully in charge. But we do have will, since we do have God in us, we are very powerful. But if we come at it from the perspective of co-creating, then we know that we’re not alone. We’re always supported. Even if it doesn’t always look like the way we want it to look! It’s for our growth. There’s that surrender part.
Govind Das: We have to surrender, and that’s what we’re taught. This old saying, “Not my will, but thine will be done”.
Govind Das: People think of it, so just this religious thing. But in my opinion, it’s the most practical thing that we could ever practice.
Kimberly S: That’s right.
Govind Das: It’s practical. Because the moment we start to live in that deep trust that every moment is exactly the way it’s supposed to be, God puts me in the perfect place at the perfect time, the perfect moment, always. Guess what happens? We live in that vibration, the inflammation starts to decrease. This is what Deepak Chopra teaches.
Kimberly S: Is we’re not fighting against how we want it to look, or how we want it to be.
Govind Das: The inflammation decreases in the body, the organs start to function more effectively. The mind’s more on point. We feel more energy and more vibrancy. So what could be more practical?
Kimberly S: It’s transformative.
Govind Das: It’s an incredible time in human unfolding where we have all of this information, of all of the great spiritual traditions available to us. And now it’s up to us to actually live it. To practice it, to work it in our lives.
Radha: And to share it with our children so they can see it. And we were just in Costa Rica last week, and we did a family friendly retreat. And it’s just so beautiful just to see these kids just watch and observe, and see how loving everyone was. And how kind they were, and chanting and meditating. And as Mark Whitwell told us, you don’t have to make your children do those practices. They were just going to watch you and see and absorb that.
Govind Das: And they’re going to do what you do, typically, not always. But they’re going to-
Kimberly S: But that’s somewhere in their consciousness.
Govind Das: [inaudible] perfect lives.
Incorporating Bhakti Retreats Into Your Life
Kimberly S: Well, and speaking of retreats. I think for a lot of us having a break from the pattern of our everyday life, and going away, and being in the energy. In the field of people that have been practicing this, living this, where you can learn a practice. That’s been a huge part of my own learning. And I think that kind of yoga retreat can be life changing. It’s not just… There’s nothing wrong with going and partying and having a fun time. But if you’re really looking to incorporate Bhakti into your life, to incorporate this deep, this heart opening practice, it’s beautiful to go on retreats.
Kimberly S: And I know you guys have a Indian retreat coming up?
Govind Das: We lead four retreats a year. Costa Rica, Peru, India and Bali. So we take people to these very special places. And it’s very simple, the equation essentially is first of all, leave home. Leave all of your responsibilities. Spiritual practitioners have been retreating since the beginning of spirituality. Going into the mountains, going into the woods, going into the caves.
Govind Das: Okay, leave the laundry at home. You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to make meals.
Kimberly S: The to-do lists.
Govind Das: The to-do lists. Okay just for a week, drop that. All right? One.
Govind Das: Two, do these practices for many hours a day. Three, four hours in the morning, afternoon and evening practices. And turn within.
Govind Das: Three, go be out in an incredibly beautiful part of the world.
Kimberly S: Nature.
Govind Das: Nature heals us. It’s just the way it is. Mother heals us.
Govind Das: And then lastly, eat incredibly high vibrational really good food to nourish ourselves on a different level.
Govind Das: And last is what’s called satsang, or sangha, which is just being with other people. Like-minded-
Kimberly S: Community.
Govind Das: Yogis, or a spiritual community. And you can never underestimate that. That’s what Buddha considered one of the three most important things, is community. Sanga.
Kimberly S: Really? I didn’t know that.
Govind Das: Buddha, dharma and sangha. The three most important things.
Kimberly S: Really.
Govind Das: The triple jewels. Buddha is a guru, having great teacher. Dharma is the teachings.
Kimberly S: Living the life.
Govind Das: The philosophy. And the practices. And then sangha is your community of spiritual practitioners that you hang out with.
Kimberly S: Wow.
Govind Das: So we can never underestimate the power of community.
Kimberly S: Amazing.
Govind Das: Because we become who we hang out with.
Kimberly S: That’s right. And Yogananda says that too, besides meditation the most influential thing is who you surround yourself with. Because their energy’s impacting you and your energy. And just your perspective of life. So it is important.
Kimberly S: And as we grow, I’ve had these moments, almost quantum leaps spiritually. And then you attract people that are interested in that too. So your friendships can shift over time as well. Who you are with.
Govind Das: Somehow we’ve attracted you into our lives.
Kimberly S: I know, I attracted you! I love it!
Kimberly S: Thank you guys so much. I think what you are doing, from the bottom of my heart, I think it’s so special. It’s so sacred. I’ve not found a studio like this anywhere, except for Dharma’s in New York. It’s really sacred. And I love that you’ve put a stake in the middle of busy Santa Monica Promenade Mall. And said, no, this is where the most spiritual yoga studio in L.A. is going to go.
Kimberly S: So the website, Beauties, is bhaktiyogashala.com. And this is where you can find information about Govind Das and Radha’s retreats. They also have music on Spotify. Will you just google Govind Das… Oh it’s linked from the-
Govind Das: And teacher trainings.
Kimberly S: And teacher trainings.
Govind Das: And kirtan trainings. Yin yoga trainings.
Radha: Upcoming events.
Kimberly S: Amazing.
Govind Das: We host a lot of great teachers and saints. Next week we have Radhanath Swami coming.
Kimberly S: Oh yes!
Govind Das: So lots of great things happening. Come by, we’d love to meet you all and say hi.
Kimberly S: Again, bhaktiyogashala.com. Thank you, beauties, so much for tuning in today. I hope that you loved this interview. I could talk to you guys all day. I know! I love this! I love it. But it was amazing, and I’m just glad you guys have these resources to offer everybody. Whether you live in LA or not. You can certainly listen to the amazing kirtan music, come on a retreat, or when you do come to LA, make this one of the places to come. It’s very, very special.
Kimberly S: And Beauties, remember, that besides the show notes over at mysolluna.com, we have links to other podcasts you may be interested in. Blogs, free meditations, free recipes, lots of other offerings. We also have daily inspiration for you on Instagram at @_Kimberlysnyder.
Kimberly S: We will be back here Thursday for our Q & A podcast. Till then, take care. Remember how amazing you are, remember how unique you are. You are whole and complete just as you are. Just like Govind Das was talking about. We send you lots of love, and we will see you back here soon.