Today was the fourth day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. This year there are approximatwely 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.

Today, after the early morning Kundalini Sadhana with Gurushabd Singh Khalsa, the morning classes began with a Kundalini yoga inspired class on Flexible and Free with Kia Miller, Journey through the Chakras with Anand Mehrotra and a discussion of yogic diets with Padmashri Bharat Bhushan.

Kia Miller explained that: “Creating intelligence in the body leads to an intelligent approach to life. This class will take you on an exploration into your own innate power to create. Our work with the breath through pranayama helps us to dissolve the veil that covers our True self. Therefore, in the end, you will see that we are only uncovering that which is already there. That is the true state of Yoga.”

After a beautiful breakfast in the gardens, the intensive classes included Jivamukti Yoga with renowned presenter Jules Febre of New York, Stretch the Limit Iyengar class with H.S. Arun of Bangalore, Turning to the Frequency of the Divine with Tommy Rosen, Devi Sadhana with Laura Plumb and Kundalini yoga class on Developing courage with world famous Kundalini Yoga teacher Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.

The participants then had the wonderful blessing of inspiring and uplifting discourses by Pujya Sri Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji who spoke on the Gift of Peace and how to find it inside ourselves, and world famous eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva who spoke on our Spiritual Union with Nature. The question-answer session following the discourses was full of enthusiasm and eagerness, and it was difficult to bring the enlightening session to a close.

Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke with passion and eloquence on the sacredness of our connection to Mother Earth and how losing that connection cuts us off not only from nature but also from ourselves and from the Divine. She explained the deep connection between the soil, the gut (digestive tract) and the brain, and how when we pollute and toxify our soil, it negatively impacts our digestion and then leads to neurological and psychological issues in the brain. She said “Organic food is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity. All the chemicals and toxins are the luxury which neither our health nor our planet can afford.”

Participants enjoyed a beautiful lunch in the sunshine, under the trees after nearly 3 days of rain!

Afternoon sessions included a deep question-answer session with Dr. Vandana Shivaji, following up on her lecture of the morning, during which she delved into many areas of spirituality and consumerism as it connects to the health of the planet and ourselves. There was also a special talk by Rujuta Diwekar, bestselling author, famous nutritionist and dietician to the stars, titled “Mitahar – the yama of eating,” Chanting of the Sanskrit Alphabet with Anandra George, a chakra awakening meditation with David Wei, Indea Yoga Inversions with Bharath Shetty and an overflowing workshop with Dr. Vandana Shiva on How to be the Change You Wish to See.

Rujuta spoke passionately and convincingly about the correct way of eating which is the exact opposite of the deprivation and restriction so many “diets” espouse. Rujuta explained: “It is so important to bring back the lost wisdom about food. Yoga inspires us to eat local, seasonal, fresh food using timeless recipes handed down from one generation to another. This allows us to have both the inner and outer environments in a state of balance and harmony, bringing us closer to the very purpose of yoga.” Her talk was hugely popular and everyone walked away looking at their daily menus and their relationship with food in a brand new way.

This was followed by another beautiful, deep, inquisitive and thoughtful satsang question-answer session with Pujya Shri Mooji, in which he brought the questioners and the entire audience into a beautiful state of experiential understanding. After the satsang everyone took part in the sacred Ganga Aarti.

For the evening program there were cultural performances by Balinese Dancers Swara Semesta Balinese, led by Indra Udayana, titled “Bali-India Sangam: Sacred Art from the Paradise Island of Bali,” and Dr. Prakriti Bhaskar who did a beautiful Bharata Natyam dance.

Quotations from participants:

“This is my second year attending IYF and I’ve brought a friend with me. The teachers are great, the food is great and I am really enjoying myself” Mathias Mandmeir, Munich Germany

“This is my first time attending IYF. I really enjoy meeting the beautiful people from all over the world” – Bernd Jessel, Munich, Germany

“I attended the festival last year, this is my second time back. It’s confirmed once again how good and intense these classes are.” – Rodrigo Canelas, Lisbon, Portugal

“This is my second year back at the festival. I am really enjoying the workshops, they are so powerful. I like that the classes are in both Hindi & English which adds a lot of value to the experience. The vibration is a great spiritual experience.” – Palomi Sheth, Los Angeles, CA

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