Telluride Yoga Festival: Beryl Bender Birch On Her Game & Back in Town

Telluride Yoga Festival: Beryl Bender Birch On Her Game & Back in Town

Purchase your pass to the the 2019 Telluride Yoga Festival, Thursday, June 27 – Sunday, June 30.

Learn more about the presenters here.

View the schedule here.

Scroll down to learn more about featured presenter Beryl Bender Birch and listen to her podcast. Her history is the history of yoga in America.

“Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft, can you be extremely hard and strong,” Zen proverb.

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel has nothing on this super hero. As the founder/director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, Beryl Bender Birch has been a champion of the greater good, conquering hearts and minds since the 1970s, speaking out on the importance of a dedicated yoga practice combined with activism – which means taking your yoga off the mat to make a difference in our challenged world.

“We cannot retreat to our yoga studios and hide or revert to our ‘business as usual’ mindset. If we are here, we are awake, aware, and privileged. We have an obligation to get out there in the world, dig in, and do the work, to speak out and stand up for social justice, equality, and protection of Mother Earth. With support from our sanga (community) and with strong, committed yoga practice, we can shift our cultural consciousness from faster and farther to balanced and sustainable. We can avoid despair and helplessness and identify and overcome the obstacles that accompany every adventurer on every journey,” said Beryl.

She refers to the people she has trained as “spiritual revolutionaries.”

After a whirlwind few months including nine days in Cuba:

“The trip was intense – we traveled all over the East End of this huge island – from Holguin to Gibara, to Mayari, to Cayo Saetia, to Baracoa, to Guantanemo, to Santiago, and back to Holguin. Very, very few Americans make this trip…

“We made many welcome stops along our route at cigar factories, small farms, rum distilleries, waterfalls, mountain trails, and incredible historical sites. The history and politics of the country has me mesmerized. I am now studying Spanish every day, working on a blog for my website about Cuba, and planning a return – despite Trump’s travel ban. Yogis have ways to make themselves invisible and pass through ‘walls’ of many different kinds,“ wrote Beryl in her newsletter.

Despite four different teacher trainings coming up in four different states, plus a trip to London for more of the same, Beryl was determined to carve out time on her demanding schedule to return to Telluride and teach once again at the Telluride Yoga Festival.

Her classes this year include asana, meditation, pranayama, and yoga nidra, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage, typically induced by a guided meditation.

Beryl is also speaking on a panel titled “Finding Gifts in Adversity.” The subject is how personal trauma, PTSD, discrimination, and the usual bumps in the road help transform the speakers – and all of us.

A favorite presenter, Beryl has been teaching at Yoga Fest since 2011.

Thank heaven. (And festival director Erika Henschel.)

Beryl Bender Birch, more:

Beryl Bender Birch’s history is the history of Yoga in America, a story of assimilation and diversification and now, big business. This spiritual teacher, yoga therapist, and author (“Power Yoga,” “Beyond Power Yoga,” “Yoga for Warriors”) was an early adaptor and pioneer: in the early 70s, the tie-dyed days of drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll, Beryl, a former student of English and philosophy at Syracuse University and biofeedback researcher, became an avid student of yoga and the study of human consciousness.

Beryl began her studies of yoga after moving from New York City to California in 1971, which at the time was a pretty rockin’ place and the epicenter of the human potential movement. There she met and studied with many of the West’s first teachers to come from the East among them Swami Satchidananda, Swami Vishnudevananda, Chogyam Trugpa Rinpoche, Yogi Bhajan, and Munishree Chitrabhanu. She even traveled to India in 1974 to further her studies. When Beryl returned to the US, she taught yoga and meditation to skiers in Winter Park, well, to the whole town.

Six years later, Beryl headed back to New York, the place of her birth, to practice Ashtanga Yoga under the guidance of Norman Allen. (Allen was Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ first American student and the first Westerner to master the Ashtanga series and bring it to the U.S.)

Still ahead of the pack, Beryl introduced yoga to a group of elite athletes, teaching Ashtanga Yoga at the prestigious New York Road Runners Club. Throughout the 1980s, Beryl and her husband, Thom Birch, remained the only teachers in the Ashtanga tradition on the East Coast, teaching tens of thousands of students.

In the late 80’s, Beryl coined the term “Power Yoga” – along with Bryan Kest on the West Coast –  as a way for the Western mind to relate to what was then the obscure, ancient practice of Astanga Yoga, a workout for the mind and body.

Beryl is the director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, which she founded in 1980.

She now teaches classical yoga all over the world, guiding and inspiring students of all levels with her down-to-earth style.

She is also co-founder and board chair of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which supports yoga teachers world-wide in developing give-back projects in their communities.

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