Today was the 4th day of International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, where nearly 600 participants from 50 countries have come to take part in courses and classes given by more than 50 world renowned yogacharyas.

Today, the morning began with Ashtanga Series of yoga taught by yoga-teacher to the celebrities Deepika Mehta from Mumbai; Movement, Flow & Transformation with Roberto Milletti of Italy, Ci plus meditation with Maa Gyan Suveera, Lila Sun Salutations by Erica Kaufman, and Sukshma Yoga taught by Swami Yogananda.

Deepika guided the students to: “Keep the heart lifted and radiant, yet at the same time drop the tailbone to balance the flow of prana and aparna. The essence of ashtanga vinyasa is to find the sushamna nadi (central axis) in every asana of the practice through the alignment, keeping our dhristi (gaze), ujjayi breath and vinyasa (movement & breath connection) with awareness in the bandhas.”

The morning intensives included Devi Sadhana with Laura Plumb from USA which included a practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation dedicated to the Mother Goddess in all Her forms, Power of Yoga with Sherri Baptiste of USA, Kundalini Yoga with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa and Iyengar Yoga with H.S. Arun of Bangalore.

The spiritual lecture series included discourses by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati on “A Divine Balance — from Stress Management to Self Management” and ”Rewire your Consciousness with Mantra & meditation: A Talk & Guided Mantra Meditation” by Chandresh Bhardwaj founder of the Break the Norms movement.

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, highlights of the afternoon included: Chandanni Miglino taught Submerged Yoga, Hikaru Hashimoto taught Shinto Yoga, Anandra George led a beautiful chanting of the Sanskrit alphabet, Yuva Dayalan & TS Krishnan led Yuva Yoga, Gabriela Bozic led a Bhakti filled Jivamukti class, Akira Watamoto & Roberto Milletti led a joint hatha class on posture and movement, and Radhanath Swamiji shared a discourse on his personal experience with Himalayan yogis, much to the delight of all the participants.

Anandra, a well-known kirtanist from Hawaii, explained that: “So many of us chant the Sanskrit prayers and mantras without knowing exactly how to properly pronounce the sounds. I remember once a student asked me ‘which n is the n in Ganesha?’ I had no idea and it was from that moment that I decided to immerse myself in the study of the Sanskrit alphabet.”

Akira Watamoto, a renowned yogi from Japan who frequently appears on TV shows and in print media, shared: “Sometimes we get stuck in our asana due to the stubbornness of the mind and old patterns. Let’s experience, through the liquid movement and fluidity of asana, a pure expression of the body’s intelligence. Just observe one’s breathing and harmonize the movement with the breath. We will then be able to experience the working of sacred Nature inside our own skin.”

After the evening sacred Ganga Aarti, the participants had a special dance performance given by Arushi Nishank, on Ganga, followed by the special experience of dancing to the matchless percussionist Sivamani who played the drums with such joy and prowess that it had all participants dancing.

Sasch Franchinia- age 40, from Bergamo: “I come to Parmarth Niketan to International Yoga Festival every year to recharge my batteries and to find my center again.”

Chisako Kurihara-age 31, from Tokyo: “I decided I wanted to be a yoga instructor so I quit my job and came to the International Yoga Festival to dive in to the deep end and learn the best yoga.”

Amilee Myson – 23, from Sydney: “I came to the International Yoga Festival to meet the yogis of the world and to validate my life choice to be a yogi by being around others who have made the same decision. My favorite part so far is the encounters with nameless yogis! Serendipity and anonymity combine at IYF for incredibly authentic experiences.”

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