We caught up with Raio last week and captured this totally enchanting glimpse into his inner world and workings and talked about his deep passion for yoga and music.
Raio is a resident DJ for the legendary dances at the Yoga Barn in Bali, where he also leads kirtans, sacred cacao ceremonies, and sound healing journeys, and produces music in a mystic jungle studio. He is also a dancer, percussionist, yogi, ceremonialist, and devoted student-of-the-sacred and we just can't wait to welcome him along with his partner Sophie sôfrēē and the wonderful teacher, healer and musician Carlos Romero to Croatia this summer.
Our beloved Bali crew are in Zagreb on July 8th, offering an unforgettable Ecstatic Dance session, right after Meghan Currie's workshop; followed by a one week programme of Yoga, sound, healing, and all-round deep deliciousness on Obonjan Island July 10-14!
SY: How do you curate a life that you love?
Raio: I strive for balance between meaningful work, loving relationships, communion with nature, and cultivation of my personal connection with Source.
For work: A combination of surrender to the will of the Universe to receive the blessing of soul purpose, and hard work to keep it grounded and real.
Relationships: The quality of presence I offer equals the quality of presence I receive.
Nature: Viva Pachamama! Especially in this time of electronic over-saturation, unplugging from devices and plugging into the elements is essential.
Source-connection: Daily discipline and occasional retreat. I'm at my best when I start my day with a devotional practice like Kundalini Yoga, meditation, or simply counting my blessings and thanking the Universe. And sometimes I need to step away from everything to attend to my inner terrain, so that I can show up with more love, creativity, and presence for all of the above.
SY: Describe your love story with Yoga in its many forms?
Raio: I didn't find Yoga...Yoga found me.
In my last semester in college I took a ski trip to Utah. Perfect powder day, big cliff to drop, landed the jump, felt like an absolute superhero (did I mention the MDMA?) and skied way too fast into a little dip formed by a creek bed...crunch! Lumbar spine compression, ruptured disk.
Three days later back at school a good friend swooped up on rollerblades (it was the mid-90's) and said "Come to yoga with me tonight! It might help your back."
"Yo-what?" I had no concept of what yoga was, but I felt the calling. As it turned out, that night was my initiation into the practice of Kundalini Yoga which has been my loving companion ever since. I fell in love with the energetic harvest of the practice, a state of grace in which feeling blessed and offering blessings are as easy as inhaling and exhaling. And I also fell in love with the caring, supportive community that I've found in every classroom, ashram, and shala along the way.
Looking back at the big picture, that week marked a turning point from my primary focus being the pursuit of external highs via action sports like extreme skiing and aggressive mountain biking, to the pursuit of an inner high (and deeper peace) via yoga, meditation, and conscious music. It was as if the gods had allowed me to fly on my skis to edge of the heavens and then said: "Here's the view. Now you need to work for it. But we'll show you how."
That's the "How we first met" love story. The key to keeping it "happily ever after" is simply this: the more energy and attention I give to my practice, the more she gives back. Her love is unconditional, and even when I've forgotten her for periods and strayed, she is always waiting with arms wide open, ready to help me tap back into the Flow where life becomes a continuous stream of miracles big and small.
Last thing: one of the greatest graces has been to meet a partner who shares my passion for yoga and specifically Kundalini Yoga: Sophie Sofree, who will be teaching at Obonjan. I was a lone-wolf for years...sharing the journey is sweeter than going it alone.
SY: Tell us about your vision for our time on Obonjan Island this summer?
Raio: "Heaven on Earth" / heven än urth / noun:
To be in the company of inspired spirits in a powerfully beautiful natural environment, communing with the elements, diving into sacred practices, dancing our souls free, making music together, and generally celebrating the beauty of Being.
SY: What is ecstatic dance?
Raio: The literal answer: In an ecstatic dance session, the DJ holds the space for dancers to go on a dynamic, deep-diving, uplifting, funky, sensual, sometimes shadowy, definitely fun, and ultimately meaningful movement journey. The music flows through a variety of tempos, genres, and moods, allowing for levels of self-discovery, emotional presence, and self-expression that transcend what typical genre-specific DJ-sets and substance-clouded dancefloors can offer. Dancers are able to connect deeply within, share conscious-connection with others, open and heal the physical and emotional bodies, go freaking wild, kiss the lips of the Divine, and finally settle into profound stillness, all in the space of a few hours.
Personally, I think it's pretty genius.
The abstract approach (in no particular order): Liberation. Celebration. Presence. Devotion-in-motion. A path to extreme joy. Unfit for people who don't want to feel overwhelming love and connection. Modern shamanism. A journey to the center of the Heart. The most fun you can legally have. More fun than the illegal options anyways. Proof of the existence of Goddess.
SY: What's your secret to happiness?
Raio: Gratitude! Not only for the obvious blessings and easy-to-love experiences that life offers, but especially for the challenges, illnesses, defeats, and detours. All of which turn out to be blessings-in-disguise when we can reach a state of gratitude-no-matter-what. A simple inner "thank you" can turn demons into guardians in an instant.
SY: What are your grateful for today?
Raio: Nice timing. Today I am grateful for the patience to be happily attending to crucial online communications while my soul is calling out to make fresh beats :) .
SY: Share something with us that surprises and delights!
Raio: Octopuses have three hearts!