Shiva and Shilpa came together at Parmarth Niketan’s International Yoga Festival

Bollywood Actress, Yoga Teacher, Entrepreneur Shilpa Shetty shared the secrets of success by being on a path of Yoga and led participants from across the world in a fun, refreshing outdoor Yoga Class in Parmarth’s Yoga Garden

RISHIKESH- The International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, being held in association with Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, was joined by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director of the International Yoga Festival, in welcoming Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty for “Simple Soulful – Yoga for the Soul”. Opening the series were skits and dances performed by various attendees of the festival. With her humility, simplicity, and grace, Shilpa Shettyji sat in lotus position on the floor of the stage, watching intently as performers conveyed a message and plea for clean water and a cleaner world.

In opening the day’s Spiritual Lecture Series, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji made a distinction between conditional love, which causes us to contract, and unconditional love, which allows us to expand, to open our breath and our hearts in our practice and our relationships.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, said: “Expanding in love means through loving you, I have turned on my internal love manufacturing machine. Yoga is living in divine love—such that through loving, we deeply connect with love and truth in ourselves. Only in the connection with our spirit and essence can we truly love the spirit and essence of others. The goal of life, love and yoga is to expand to know we are the ocean, such that when rocks, stresses, etc fall into it, we are not shaken but stay grounded and centred in Self.”

Sadhviji then turned to special guest Shilpa Shetty, asking: “In the world of celebrity, of movies and TV, flying across the world, shooting from morning to night, how do you find time to practice Yoga?”
Shilpa Shetty replied: “Yoga is a lifestyle for me, not just a fitness regime. I didn’t find Yoga but Yoga found me. I feel I have become a famous actress to propagate and spread Yoga and Wellness.”

Speaking about the role of women and young girls in Indian society, Shilpa said: “When you start doing Yog, it will make you realize that you must respect and love yourself first, in order to love the other person in front of you. When we say Om Namah Shivaya, we are actually “I love myself” and realising that in loving ourselves we are loving the Creator.”

Sadhviji also asked Shilpa to share the thinking behind her new phone app “Simple, Soulful”, currently in development, and how it will serve and support those who are turning to Yoga. Shilpaji explained: “Women who feel that it is difficult, and most people do feel this general myth that you must be flexible in order to practice Yoga. I want that myth to be dispelled. Schools need to embed Yoga in children’s education, to make it more accessible across the world, not just in India. I would have loved to launch the App here at my Himalayan Home but unfortunately it’s not quite ready it but I take the blessings from here for its success in touching and inspiring people to live a life of Yoga.”

“Simple, Soulful” should be ready for release within the next 15 days.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji shared on the occasion, “Shilpa is such a beautiful and powerful example of being like the lotus amidst the muddy pond, of being grounded and centred in our smile amidst all trials and turbulences. She shines and provides great inspiration to so many young people, women and people to keep discovering and uncovering their infinite potential. For celebrities to be proponents of Yoga helps us understand that Yoga is truly for all. So Learn Yoga, Live Yoga, Love Yoga, Do Yoga and Be Yoga.”

Pujya Swamiji and Sadhvi Bhagawatiji offered Shilpa Shetty a beautiful, green Rudraksha Sapling, so that the tree of Yoga may continue to grow in her life giving shade and life to all. They also blessed her with the sacred waters of the Sangam as blessings from the Kumbh Mela.

The Day 5 Spiritual Lecture Series ended with a powerful prayer from our indigenous friends and an energetic and vibrant dance performance from the Nrityavali group, in honor of Lord Shiva and Maha Shivaratri yesterday. Tribal leaders from the 2019 Kumbh Mela Kiva ceremony offered a beautiful medallion of the sun (Surya) to Shilpaji, as part of the Kiva tradition that honours the source of light- the Sun.

Our fifth day on the Mother Ganges began with Gurushabd Singh Khalsa for a Kundalini Sadhana course alongside a vibrant sunrise. Parmarth welcomes Gurushabd and his wife Gurmukh, co-founders of Golden Bridge Yoga, back for another year of healing and learning at IYF. As with each morning, participants had the opportunity to purify in the Temescal sweat lodges.

Before breakfast, yogis could attend Katie B. Happyy’s “Align Up with Your Highest Self Workshop: Clarity in Your Calling”, Traditional Hatha Yoga with Parmarth seva and Yoga & meditation teacher Indu Sharma, or the Five Tibetans with Joseph Schmidlin. This early morning section concluded with “Sunrise Nāda Yoga Musical Meditation”, led by Anandra George, who said: “The honor of sharing the sacred practices of Sanskrit mantra and nāda yoga with an international student body has forced my teaching delivery to become clearer, more concise, and more focused largely on their direct experience and skill enhancement.”

Deepika Mehta led the “Dance of Prana” at 8:30 a.m., while Sandeep Desai exposed participants to Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga. “Soul and Soma: Awakening the Power of Inner Flow, Rejuvenation, and Intuition in Yova” was led by Saul David Raye. The morning classes also included “Sounds of India – a Musical Journey Story” led by Keren Popat Snapir. In “Becoming Sensory Human Beings”, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa encouraged her students to “be in the light” by leading dances and bowing exercises which allowed them to let go of the things deeply holding them back.

At 11 a.m., the Spiritual Lecture Series heard from Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati and Bollywood superstar Shilpa Shetty, who both offered insightful discourses into the heart, soul, and lifestyle of Yoga.

After lunch, many of the courses focused on Earth preservation and how yoga and natural remedies can help craft a better future for our planet and ourselves. Dr. G.S. Gupta spoke about “Natural Remedies for Beauty and Hair” and “The Yoga of Mother Earth” was led by Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti, founder of VRINDA, the Vrindavan Institute for Vaishnava Culture and Studies.

Mid-afternoon kicked off with “Simple Soulful Yoga” led by Shilpa Shetty in the Yoga Garden, drawing participants from around the festival to practice in the light and grounding energy of Shilpaji. Reoccurring courses such as “Rumi Love Meditation” with Mert Güler and the Indian Classical Dance Workshop were offered, this time with the Uttaranchal Classical Dancers of West Bengal. Waka held an Indian Rhythm Tala Workshop that reverberated across Parmarth Niketan before participants refuelled with tea and snacks for Sacred Haven and Divine Ganga Aarti.

After chanting and singing through another divine sunset, the evening continued with Kīrtan Family Hour, where international musicians delved deeper into song. The day concluded with a “Cultural Union of the World”, a series of spectacular performances, including Parmarth’s own Rishikumars, a Sufi dance with Mert Güler, and a showcase of talents from IYF participants.

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