With the November 7th inaugural of Veda MeLA fast approaching we are excited to have had the opportunity to sit down with Veda MeLA's founder Dr. Siva Mohan to find out more about what attendees can expect from Veda MeLA and what inspired her to create such a unique event. (The AWAKE film team along with certain interviewees and monastics from Self-Realization Fellowship will be holding a special panel at Veda MeLA on Sunday from 2 to 3:15 PM.)
Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Siva Mohan is one of many authorities in the field who has recognized the critical role that Yoga can play in one’s life. So this November she is launching the inaugural event Veda Mela (www.vedamela.com) in downtown Los Angeles, and we are delighted to be a part of it with a special AWAKE panel discussion – in which we will be joined by SRF monastics and some of the other interviewees from the film – exploring some of AWAKE’s provocative topics.
Veda Mela will take place at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8.
AWAKE: How did you come up with the idea for Veda Mela?
SM: The idea for the conference was inspired by a conversation with a dear friend. We were talking about how amazing it is that Vedic wisdom is surfacing in modern life – in commercials, food packaging, clothing - we are seeing it everywhere. We can also witness the different permutations of how it is showing up. For example, stylists are picking colors based on energetics. I thought it would be a good idea to gather and showcase how Vedic philosophy is present in modern life, as well as to celebrate it. I look at Veda Mela as a celebration honoring the roots of Vedic wisdom. Yoga and meditation in general have rich roots in L.A. You can’t really separate yoga from L.A. culture now.
AWAKE: What is the main goal of the conference?
SM: What we aim to do is to merge the experiential with the didactic a bit more than other yoga conferences. There is a gap between more experiential events like outdoor yoga festivals with exercise and music, compared to a more didactic approach, where participants attend lectures and workshops. I want to find the place in the middle – and I want it to be less serious and abstract. The speakers have all come together, and the line-up is incredible.
I think the bigger question is: Where is it all going? What happens after this year, the inaugural event – how will things evolve? People in general are mobilizing with similar inspirations. There is a spiritual renaissance emerging from the rising popularity of Yoga. It’s exciting to think about where things could go.
AWAKE: How does it differ from other Yoga-inspired conferences?
SM: I want participants of Veda Mela to have this feeling of being held by being in an intimate space. The REEF [where the event will take place] is a very artistic venue. It changes constantly, for each event, which makes it perfect for our purposes. I wanted Veda Mela to have a more artistic and immersive quality, where you walk in and it will feel like a subterranean temple. The environment will reflect India’s spirituality – from the carved Indian doors to the textiles to the sounds.
Veda Mela is designed to accommodate both experienced yogis and new practitioners by offering workshops that are paced according to attendees’ level of experience. So there will be some immersive classes that are three hours long, and other opportunities to just gather, experience and listen. In essence, Veda Mela is for people who are hungry and ready to apply in their lives the lessons learned during the Veda Mela workshops.
Another unique and important feature of Veda Mela is that both evening events are fundraisers, in which Veda Mela will donate 100% of the profits to the designated non-profit organizations that have partnered with us. The purpose is to be aligned with the philosophy of the Vedas – to give and to receive.
AWAKE: Lastly, can you explain to us what Ayurveda is?
SM: Like with Yoga, people have a limited knowledge of Ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda is the dynamic application of awareness you build of your own energetic patterns. Ayurveda is getting to know yourself and consistently making choices in a way that is most energetically beneficial for you. Ultimately, this creates greater alignment, peace, and harmony. When I talk to people, I let them know that everything is energy in the Universe. You can play and modulate according to what works best for you. For instance, I can say: Here’s what I saw in my digestion, or in my emotions. Because of what I saw, I know the choices I should make to help my energy patterns - what to eat, how much meditation I need, etc. In other words, I become aware of patterns. Ayurveda encourages you to ask the questions: How do you make decisions? How are you choosing to react to your experiences? Are your habits serving you? Are you aware of your emotional needs? I am hopeful that the Veda Mela will bring people closer to an understanding of the benefits of an Ayurvedic and yogic approach to life and motivate them to go deeper regardless of what point they are at in their practice.