Colours of Oneness and Love in a Special, Eco-Friendly Holi Celebrations by participants of the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan from more than 70 countries with World Famous Percussionist Sivamani

Interfaith & Indigenous Leaders Pledge for a Cleaner & Greener Planet

The flow of Yoga unfolds in Day 2 of the International Yoga Festival with multi-cultural classes and workshops, teachings, prayers, and performances

RISHIKESH: After a joyous and bright opening day, the 2019 International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, in association with Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, carried the energy from yesterday’s beautiful inaugural ceremony and Padamshri, World Famous Percussionist Sivamani’s concert last night, with a schedule full of exciting classes and opportunities to embrace the divine power of Yoga.

The day began its second early morning in the Temescal sweat lodges. Pre-breakfast classes were kicked off by Paula Tapia, Yoga Therapist and Mindfulness Advisor at Attune Health, in her “Flow Terapéutico En Español” class. Participants also had the opportunity to attend Sacred Sound Healing with Michelle Button Vrinda Devi, President of the Institute of Music and Healing Arts for Peace; and “Soothe Your Insides: Mindfulness, Meditation, Pranayama, and Yogic Storytelling” with Dr. Eden Goldman, Yoga, Mindfulness, and Wellness lifestyle expert from Los Angeles, CA.

At 6:45 am, Anandra George led “Nāda Yoga Musical Meditation” alongside a Ganga sunrise. Anandra, who studies Hindustani classical music at the feet of master teacher Pandit Baldev Raj Verma, said: “If singing to God has always been a deep wish of yours, but you tell yourself you “can’t” sing, it’s time to change that. The spiritual roots of Indian classical music invite us to sing for connection and not for performance. This is a critical reorientation that can help you release your authentic devotional expression. I can’t tell you how many people who “can’t sing” have fallen in love with the sound of their own voices through the vocal meditation methods I teach. I always say “If you can speak, you can sing!”

After a light breakfast, the two-hour Asana classes began with Tommy Rosen—founder of online program Recovery 2.0, which uses the values and energy of Yoga to help those struggling with addiction. Tommy’s message to his “River of Kriya” class was: “Anyone can access the supreme state of yoga and be free. It simply requires steady practice and constant surrender.”

On the Ghat, Seane Corn of New York City led the Yoga of Awakening, inspiring students with her words of reflection: “I didn’t know the ways in which Yoga would hold a mirror up to my humanity, challenge my perspective, and ask me again and again and again, can you love now?” At the Sacred Sound Stage, Karen Neumann, Reiki Master, Nada Yoga teacher and medium who channels Oneness and Unconditional Love to her followers and pupils, offered “The Great Healing Mantra: Mahā Mrtyunjaya” for those interested in beginning their day united in mantra.

At 11am, the Spiritual Lecture Series continued with the HH Pujya Sri Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji and H.H. Pujya Radhanath Swamiji. The series was enriched by the presence and knowledge of South American spiritual leaders and healers Taita Julio Muñoz, Berito Kuwarwa, and Marceliano & Abuela Tonalmitl, in their discourse “Healing Medicines.”

H.H. Pujya Radhanath Swamiji said, “What a leader does for common people that becomes the standard of what is truly valuable. The greatest need in the world is leaders, and everyone, in whatever situation, whether it affects a few people or large quantities of people, we all have the opportunity to be leaders, to live with integrity, to live with compassion. But it’s only truly possible in a sustainable way when there’s a deep foundation within our hearts of inner-peace, inner-satisfaction, inner-love and compassion”

HH Pujya Sri Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji shared, “It [Yoga] does not purify just our physical body, but it also purifies us mentally, it purifies our mind, it purifies our intellect, and even, it purifies us to the extent that we can understand the secret behind our Soul.”

Abuela Tonalmitl & the native elders from South America added: “We are weaving together with Mother Ganga for the preservation of the cultures. We honour all of the world’s indigenous cultures- their customs and ceremonies and we recognise on the holy banks of Mother Ganga that water is the common thread that makes us one.”Special Guests Maulana Waleullah Qasmi, Principal, Madani Darul-Uloom, Deoband, Sharanpur and his son Maulana Abdul Hanan Qasmi were warmly welcomed to the International Yoga Festival during the Spiritual Lecture series with Parmarth’s traditional and sacred Rudraksha sapling.

Indigenous and Interfaith leaders present during the lecture series joined together in a collective pledge in Yoga as a union of religions and a celebration of unity admist diversity. The pledge symbolized their commitment to work together for the protection of the environment, conservation of our sacred rivers and fresh water bodies. Sivamani also joined the interfaith and indigenous leaders along the banks of the flowing River Ganga to pledge for this noble cause.

Deeply touched by the visit Maulana Waleullah Qasmiji said, “Pujya Swamiji is a real beacon of oneness and brotherhood. Under his leadership and vision it’s so wonderful to see so many large-scale and multi-faceted events happening in Rishikesh, across India and the world that spread and create greater peace, oneness and love. We look forward to continuing to serving together, hand in hand and heart in heart, for a cleaner, greener and more harmonious world for all of humanity.”

Back due to popular demand, a special curtain-raiser Eco-Friendly Holi* Celebration gave participants a glimpse of the rich Indian cultural traditions and holidays. Vibrant dance celebration was led by the incredible drumming of Sivamani in the Yoga Garden as colours of oneness and peace flew through the air. From our lawn at Parmarth, in the lap of the Himalayas, a release of love, peace and positive energy was sent out to the corners of the world most in need.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, said: “To me this is Yoga! Yoga is not merely a fitness regime but it’s really a practice whereby our body, mind and spirit are aligned to be instruments of the oneness and love in all of creation. Yoga is unity amidst diversity. Yoga strengthens our bodies and minds so that we recognise that we are one, we were always one and we will be one. Today in these eco-friendly colours of oneness and togetherness we pledge to protect our planet and create a more sustainable and peaceful world for all beings.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of the International Yoga Festival, said: “The International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan brings to us an opportunity to not only get the teachings but the divine touch from some of the most sought- after Spiritual leaders, Yoga Masters and Yogacharyas who share this deep and profound wisdom of life so simply and so beautifully. They share that no matter what path of Yoga we may practice, whatever style or tradition we follow, the most important thing is for us to live and share this union with all. With our interfaith, indigenous leaders or individuals from all across the world here today celebrating the colours of oneness and peace we can really see that while we may speak different languages or come from various walks of life we are all united in the language of love and the quest for true liberation.”

Lunch was followed by an exciting opportunity to experience Kundalini Yoga in Spanish—or English!—with Jai Hari Singh, teacher and healer from Mexico City. Of his sacred practice, Jai Hariji said: “Kundalini Yoga is a technique that allows each of us, if you practice, to relate to your inner greatness and to your divine talent, as to face your everyday life—what is called your destiny—with courage, grace and devotion”.

The early afternoon offered “How to Look Younger than Your Age with Health Tips” with Dr. G.S. Gupta, Homeopathy and health care professional from Hyderabad, and “Vedic Mythology & The Four Devis of Awakening” with Ayurveda teacher and writer Laura Plumb. At the Sacred Sound Stage, The Love Keys led a beautiful devotional session of Soothing Mantra Śavāsana.

At Parmarth Niketan, we say Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam—“the world is one family”—a Sanskrit phrase embodied by Nrityavali’s ability to unify their audience through Indian culture, heritage, and love. Today, they graced the festival with workshops and performances: an Indian Classical Dance Workshop at 3:30, an enriching performance during Aarti on the Ghat, and a spirited concert of both classical and Indian folk dance that encouraged participants to jump from their seats and join in.

Other highlights of the afternoon were “Harmonic Spine: Music as Medicine” with Joseph Schmidlin, teacher, sound practitioner and osteopath physician from New York City, and an energizing session of “One Love” with Dana Flynn at the Sacred Sound Stage. In Gabriela Bozic’s active and motivating session “Hot, Hip & Holy”, she told her students: “Yoga is not about the shape your body can make. Yoga is about deep healing and making a connection within and without. It’s an internal experience not an external physical form.”

The evening featured divine Ganga Aarti, with Nrityavali adding the flavour of Indian culture and heritage to the Aarti, and then to the hearts of all gathered through their energetic performance. The day ended with Ganga flowing through the mind, heart, breath, and body, of all Yogis sharing the experience of the International Yoga Festival.

*Traditionally Holi falls during the Festival but this year participants and presenters especially requested a pre-Holi celebration admist the beautiful music of Sivamani as to many of the IYF participants that has been a very special highlight of the festival.

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