Today was the third day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. This year there are approximately 1000 participants from more than 55 countries. There are classes from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm with more than 60 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from nearly 20 countries around the world.
The morning began with Kundalini Sadhana with Sukhmandir Singh Khalsa in which he explained, “Happiness is a natural state of consciousness. Everything else is disease. Everything else is imbalance. Happiness is who we are, what we are. This is our birthright.”
Highlights of the morning classes included Indea Yoga Foundation: Co-ordinating Body, Breath & Mind through asana by Bharath Shetty of Mysore, Painless Spine: Twisting to Backbends with anatomy & biomechanics of Hatha Yoga by Yuva Dayalan of Hong Kong and T.K. Krishnan, and the Art of Love, Yoga and Meditation with Chandanni Miglino.
Bharath Shetty of Mysore, explained: “Nā hathath, nā bhalath’ (no force, no pressure). Connect every movement of your asana with your breathing…. Feel the yogic energy around you at Parmarth and connect yourself with the bliss of Himalayas and the flow of Ganga ”
Chandanni Miglino of Iran explained, “We’ve traveled here for all corners of the earth to come together in celebration of Life, of truth of Unity. What better way than to bow together towards our heart in recognition of the tie that binds, our Divine Breath. We are here together in one of the greatest gatherings of Unity and peace on earth at the International Yoga Festival at the beautiful and sacred Parmarth Niketan Ashram. “
The morning intensive classes included Jivamukti Yoga by Jules Febre of New York, USA, mantra meditation with Surakshit Goswami, Iyengar Yoga twists with H.S. Arun, Bharat Yog with Padmashri Bharat Bhushan, and Kundalini Yoga class on Appreciation and Gratitude by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.
These intense classes were followed by a beautiful bhakti-filled discourse on the “Yoga of Love” by Radhanath Swamiji and a discourse on “Life as Yoga – Living in Union,” by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati.
Radhanath Swamiji shared beautiful stories from the life of Bhagawan Shri Krishna and stanzas from the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatum which emphasize that the practice of devotion, full, complete, surrendered love for the Divine, is the highest and most complete path of Yoga. He shared the story of the telling of the Srimad Bhagavatum here on the banks of the Ganga, and emphasized how blessed the participants are to be in the same place.
Sadhviji explained that “The problems in our lives are caused by the artificial borders we erect between different aspects of our lives — this is my spiritual time, this is my work time, this is my family time. Then we try to ‘balance’ those aspects and it leads us into stress management classes or onto anti-anxiety medicine. When we realize, instead, that everything is our spiritual life — whatever we do, wherever we go, whomever we’re with — it’s all part of the sadhana of seeing the Divine in everything, it’s all a sadhana in love, peace, presence and true, divine union, then the stress disappears, the depression disappears and the Self appears.”
After lunch, the participants had the opportunity to take part in a program on Yoga in Life – Finding Your Passion with New York Times bestselling author Janet Attwood, a beautiful Sanskrit mantra chanting workshop with Anandra George, a Rumi love meditation with Mert Guler and Shinto Yoga with Hikaru Hashimoto.
This was followed by a deep satsang with renowned spiritual leader Shri Mooji, originally from Jamaica and now living in Portugal. In a beautiful advaita Vedanta format, Sri Mooji took questions from the audience which he turned back onto the seeker, sending him/her deeper into the inner quest to find that ever-present answer within, and simultaneously to realize that there is no questioner, there is no answer-er and there is no question….
In the evening, after the divine Ganga Aarti, the participants were treated to a special sound and chanting program with Regula Curti of Switzerland who has produced beautiful DVDs with Tina Turner, and then an enthralling dance performance by the rishikumars of the Parmarth Gurukul. By the end of the night all the participants were dancing joyously on the stage with our Rishikumars.
Quotations from participants:
“I have been coming for 8 years now and I keep having a better experience. I already can’t wait for next year. To experience so many different types of yoga and spiritual practice on the banks of Ganga is such a blessing!” – Mira Khagram, Nairobi, Kenya
“The Yoga Festival is amazing! It is so much more than I expected” – Eric Dorfman, New York, USA
“This is my first time to IYF and so far it has exceeded any expectations..For me it’s a platform to discover myself.” – Mary O Brien, Melbourne, Australia