It was the end of the June when I packed my knapsack to leave for Crimea, Ukraine. The knapsack was about to burst open because of my sleeping-bag, tent, and a percussion drum (I still don’t understand what evil forces made me pack it).
It was my fiancé who told me we had a chance to get into an annual international conference of ‘YOGA’ magazine. My fiancé is a yoga teacher himself, so it was almost a point of honor for him to widen his experience by attending this conference and practicing with his colleagues. As for me, I was just another yoga amateur, so I could hardly help myself from rolling my eyes when I heard his enthusiastic words of “yoga conference” and “contact with yoga adherents”. My dream was to spend a vacation in solitude practicing yoga away from experienced eyes. Though my dream didn’t come true, I’m now pleased that I’ve had the experience.
After all I’ve seen and experienced in July of 2006, I’d say that Crimea seems to be a giant magnet that steadily draws people who are interested in spiritual and physical practice. Crimea is not only a place of unique beauty; it’s a place of Power. That’s what numerous spiritual pilgrims believe.
For several years, a small cute settlement called Simeiz (“sign” from Greek) has been picked as a location for the ‘YOGA’ magazine conference. In fact, it is a Kaciveli-village (this word probably comes from Turkish or Georgian, it means “wild man”) that was always a place for yoga followers’ sympathy. Both of the settlements are situated on the southern coast of Crimea, separated by the Cat Mountain. (The name for the mountain is really well suited, because it looks exactly like a cat’s silhouette).
The conference involved followers and renowned teachers of the world, but mostly from the post-Soviet area (Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Belarus). I’ll never forget Reinharg Gammenthaller, Swiss, an adherent of Dhirenda Brahmachari, who came to Crimea this year and who amused (or shocked, maybe) Crimean inhabitant and holiday-makers with his unusually tattooed body. It was he who called Crimea “a little heaven” because of the combination of sea and mountains.
Slavic instructors at the conference prove their professionalism in yoga by years and years of experience, and often are the winners of World Yoga Championship; in short, they are people with a deep understanding of yoga. Some of the names are Andrey Sidersky (Ukraine), Leonid Gartsenshtein (Moldova), Andrey Lappa (Ukraine).
The formal aspect of the conference took place in lectures and seminars that were notable for the distinct way of teaching that is inherent in Slavic instructors. I suppose this way can be explained as mixing traditional yoga methods with personal, intuitive interpretations, and also introducing some of the other eastern teachings (such as Tai Chi Chuan and Zigong, for example) into yoga practice.