Day 1 of the 31st Annual International Yoga Festival
This year welcoming more than 900 participants from 56 nations.
1 MARCH 2020 RISHIKESH INDIA: With the theme of “Vision 2020” the world-renowned Annual International Yoga Festival began early in the morning at Parmarth Niketan ashram today with a renewed emphasis on Union, Unity and Love in these troubled times and a vibrant round of Yoga Asana classes that awakened hundreds of participants to the magnificent potential awaiting them during the coming week on the holy banks of Mother Ganga, as well as to the beauty of a late winter morning in the lap of the majestic Himalayas.
During the seven days of the Festival, participants have the opportunity to join over 150 classes, workshops, playshops, demonstrations, lectures, discourses and interactive sessions on topics ranging from Yoga Asanas (including Kundalini, Power Vinyasa, Iyengar and Hatha), Sound Healing, Ayurveda, Reiki, Meditation, Eastern Philosophy and Medicine and Homeopathy to Ancient Indian Philosophy and Vedanta, Human Empowerment and Motivation, Dance and Musical instruction, Trauma Release and Detoxification and Self-Realization from such globally-recognized experts as Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Rujuta Diwaker, Smita Naram, Kia Miller, Janet Attwood, Stewart Gilchrest, Anand Mehrotra, Anandra George, Joanna Faso, Sianna Sherman, and Katie B. Happyy.. All of this, in addition to the song, dance and musical performances offering the flavor of the culture and heritage of India that take place on the Festival’s Sacred Sound Stage.
The festival was officially inaugurated in the late afternoon by the Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of India, Shri Prahlad Singhji, together with Shri Harak Singh Rawatji, Hon’ble Minister of AYUSH for Uttarakhand and Shri Prem Chand Aggarwal, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who joined HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji and dozens of world-renowned presenters, expert teachers and practitioners from twenty-five countries around the world to welcome the delegates from 56 nations to a week of enlightenment, upliftment and connection to themselves, each other and all of Creation.
Pujya Swamiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, said: “Yoga is all the way from the United Nations to the United Creations on the banks of Ganga!”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of the International Yoga Festival, said, “As we gather on the banks of the sacred Ganga, in Rishikesh, the World Capital of Yoga, the land where the sages, saints and rishis have come for thousands of years to attain enlightenment, we remember that yoga is not only postures on a mat but yoga is who we are. Yoga is love, yoga is peace, yoga is togetherness. This is what the world needs today. Yoga is the answer to all that ails us from terrorism and war to environmental destruction to internal depression. Yoga is union – union with the Creator and union with the Creation. Through our yoga may we become vehicles of peace, love and union for the world.”
Hon’ble Minister of Tourism and the Hon’ble Minister of Statue for Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patelji, said: “I would like to welcome all of the people from all over the world present here in the lap of Maa Ganga, and I thank Pujya Swamiji for making it possible for people from across the country and around the world to connect on a deeper level. Yoga means Union, and Swami Ji has really made it possible for that union to happen. I was born on the River Narmada. What a blessing it is to be here in the lap of the Himalayas, in the arms of Maa Ganga and at the feet of the extraordinary and Divine power that is here. I am overjoyed that so many people from all over the world have come here, and so very proud to call this place the Yoga capital of India and the world.”
Hon’ble Shri Prem Chand Agarwalji, Speaker of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, echoed Hon’ble Shri Patelji’s sentiments, stating: “First of all I’d like to welcome all my brothers and sisters from all over the world and thank them for their presence in this divine place of Uttarakhand. Every year we get an opportunity to meet and greet people from different countries, and even today – as we all know that people from 56 people are present here – it feels as though the entire Universe is in the lap of Rishikesh. I’d also like to offer him my hearty thanks and congratulations for all of the work that He’s done for water, education and the environment. He hasn’t limited His work to just the International Yoga Festival; He addresses so many social topics and concerns.
The morning asana classes began with Vinyasa – Align Up with Your Highest Self Workshop: Clarity in Your Calling with Katie B. Happyy and Paula Tapia’s Therapeutic Yoga Flow, along with Sukshma Yoga with Ganga Nandini and Kia Miller’s amazing Awakening the Higher Qualities of the Heart practice. In addition, Anandra George led a Sunrise Nada Yoga class, with musical vibrations that elevated those on the ghat and anyone in hearing distance with their brilliant tones.
Anandra George, who has devoted her life to helping people feel the awesome power of love through sound and mantra, shared the philosophy of her beautiful practice: “Sound is the yoga of the subtle bodies. In yoga we talk about the physical body and the breath, but the yoga of sound stretches, harmonises, organises and makes the subtle bodies like the mind, emotions and soul come into health. I’m excited to share teachings around that with our amazing presenters all day everyday for 7 days!”
And Katie B. Happyy of the B Inspired, a self-empowerment company, informed about her process by sharing that “The latin root of the word “inhale” is to “inspira” – to inspire. We inhale (inspire) and exhale (expire) hundreds of thousands of times a day and rarely think about this automated biological response. Coming home to Ganga, to Parmarth, to IYF, is an opportunity for us to re-investigate why we were lucky enough for this inhale. We ask Ganga to tell us why we woke up today, and to be a beacon of hope for others in our search and example.”
After a light breakfast, Janet Attwood beautifully encouraged her students to undo their limiting beliefs, while Tommy Rosen offered paths for a breakthrough to the real selves of the capacity crowd in his long-awaited class. Dr. Indu Sharma, a dedicated teacher and practitioner at Parmarth for over 10 years, also led a traditional Hatha Yogasana, while Stewart Gilchrist offered remedies to remove the obstacles to yoga in our lifetimes and Dana Flynn conducted a vibrant and dynamic Soul Sweat class that left participants, well…soul-filled!
At 11am, this year’s Spiritual Lecture Series commenced with highly-motivational addresses by Dr. Bruce Lipton, Bharat Mitra, Prince Ea and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati exploring the universal truth that “We Are One!” Said Bruce Lipton about Yoga and Union: “What happens here at Parmarth Niketan is the harmony of love, consciousness and community. What is Yoga? Unity. Union. Coming together. You are creating a union of consciousness. And what happens when we all come together in harmony? The more power that we wield. Each of you is a seed of evolution, and where are you getting your strength from? Yoga! It’s not just the body, it’s the Creation. I want to thank every one of you because when I come to this environment, to the International Yoga Festival, to Parmarth Niketan, I can feel the evolution. The energy is so strong I have good vibes. Because your energy is harmonizing with the energy of love, peace and evolution. And, so I want to thank every one of you. Each one of you is a seed of evolution that can bring us back to the garden that we came into before separation. Union. Unity. Yoga. Thank you for participating in our world.”
During the 1st Spiritual Lecture at #IYF2020 w/@SadhviBhagawati @biologyofbelief @PrinceEa Bharat Mitra @a_hewitt Chris Deckker and Ron ji we rediscovered & reinforced the cord between our hearts that is part of "The Unified Field" and proves that "We Are All One."@UpliftConnect pic.twitter.com/MPrCjV4xcd
— Int'l Yoga Festival (@IntlYogaFest) March 1, 2020
Similarly, with almost a quarter-century of life filled with experiencing and sharing the divine principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji stated: “The illusion of separation that we talk about is something that all of us were raised into from early childhood, assuming you were raised by humans. Because the humans that raised each of us were humans that were interacting with their own karma and their own programming. And everything that we encounter reinforces that separation. We reward that which is of the body, of the action, and of the illusion. What we end up with is this very, very deep belief that we are what we do and what we look like and how we behave. The fastest, easiest way and most-powerful way that I know to plug yourself in…to connect…to end the separation…to counteract the programming… is to love. Just love.”
After lunch and prior to the inauguration in the afternoon, illumination and enlightenment continued with classes such as The Importance of Detoxification in the Modern World with Dr. Alejandro Junger and Food Rules for a Sattvic Life with Rujuta Diwekar, while Maa Gyan Suveera offered insights into Cosmic Intelligence Plus (CI+) Meditation and Anand Mehrotra shared his wisdom about Cosmic Prana and Cosmic Self. And, Joseph Schmidlin bathed attendees with his beautiful Therapeutic Sound Bath.
Finally, after the official inauguration, with hearts full and minds opened, participants joined Anandra and the Sacred Sound Stage musicians and the Kirtaniyas for a jam session of ecstatic chants and Kirtan along the blessed waters of Maa Ganga, awaiting the exciting start of Day 2!
Special Highlights from this year’s festival include:
- The Divine Spiritual Lecture Series, featuring an august body of spiritual and wellness masters and advisers from around the world such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Rev Michael Beckwith, Prince EA, Dr. Alejandro Junger, Gaur Gopal Dasji, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa and Tommy Rosen.
- Inspirational Musical performances by world-renowned Sufi Singer, Kailash Kher; Ecstatic Rhythm and Soul percussionist A Sivamani; Ecstatic Kirtan with the Love Keys; Ecstatic Chant Jam Sessions with Anandra and the Sacred Sound Stage musicians; a Hafla Music Night with Gil Ron Sharma; a very special performance by The Bluegrass Journeymen; concerts by the Kirtaniyas; and, nightly Kirtan Family Hours, featuring an open mic and our beloved family of international musicians.
- Cultural Union of the World: An Evening of Cultural Song, Dance and Theatre Performances by Parmarth Rishikumars, Sufi Dancing with Mert Güler, and IYF Participants from Around the World.
- The Global Days of Unity – UPLIFTing the World – An interactive community session exploring the Global Days of Unity initiative and featuring Bharat Mitra, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Sadhvi Bhagawatiji, Gil Ron Shama, Prince EA and Chris Deckker.
- A special meditation session at the Maharishi Yogiji Ashram (The Beatles Ashram).
- Exclusive and Premier screenings of the documentary Agniyogana, followed by a Q&A with its subject Gulcin Ozsoy, and the feature film Mantra – Sounds into Silence.
- Sacred Havans and Divine Ganga Aartis along the holy banks of Mother Ganga.