Today was the 2nd Day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. Since 1999, Parmarth Niketan has been hosting this world renowned event which has grown to international acclaim and which grows in size year after year. Yogacharyas, teachers, students and seekers come from every corner of the globe to participate in this program. This year there are approximately 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.

The beautiful morning began with 4:00 am Kundalini Sadhana by Gurushabd Singh Khalsa followed by the pre-breakfast classes including: Lila Yoga Sun Salutations with Erica Kaufman of Pennsylvania, USA traditional hatha ashtanga yoga with Sadhvi Abha Saraswati, a meditation by David Wei, renowned yogacharya from China, and “Pain-free Body, Stress-free Mind,” with Dr Krishna Raman & Dr Fharzana Siraj of Chennai.

After breakfast, the morning intense asana classes took place with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa of California, USA teaching Kundalini yoga, Tommy Rosen teaching about how to move from addiction through yoga, Sri H.S. Arun of Bangalore teaching forward bends in Iyengar Yoga, and Laura Plumb of San Diego, USA teaching Hanuman Namaskar – including asana, mantra and kirtan. Also Mark Robberds of Australia and Deepika Mehta did a joint class in the traditional Mysore Series of Ashtana Yoga.

While teaching Hanuman Namaskar, Laura Plumb explained: “As the Son of Vayu, Hanuman represents the power of prana, and the power of a mind turned inward to the light of the heart. Focus your mind on that light within, and breathe into that power. Feel your divine self alive and true.”

H.S. Arun, renowned Iyengar Yoga teacher from Bangalore explained: “Yoga is not workout it is working in. Yoga is not about burning calories it is to preserve energy by stopping the seeping energy.”

After the intense asana classes, the participants had the wonderful opportunity to listen to renowned and revered saints Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji Swami Divyanand Teerthji and Pujya Radhanath Swamiji give inspiring and uplifting spiritual discourses. Pujya Radhanath Swamiji spoke on maintaining equanimity in the face of turbulence in life. He shared beautiful stories of yogis at the end of their lives experiencing true, divine bliss, and how we should live every moment like it may be our last and simply immerse ourselves in the flow of bhakti and love. Pujya Sri Shankaracharyaji spoke about the message and meaning of yoga as found in the Vedas and how it truly leads to oneness. He emphasized removing the “isms” which divide us by culture, religion and country, and focusing on our essential oneness for true peace – inner and outer. Following the discourses the saints graciously took questions from the captivated audience.

After enjoying their lunch, some highlights of the afternoon included Sufi meditation by Mert Guler of Turkey, Jyotish with Komilla Sutton of USA, Yoga Therapy with Mohan Bhandari originally of Rishikesh and now from China, Shinto Yoga with Hikaru Hashimoto of Tokyo, Ganga Flow meditation with Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Self-Inquiry — Undoing Limiting Beliefs with Janet Attwood and a class on Kundalini Yoga – finding the pharmacy within by Tommy Rosen.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, in the Ganga Flow Meditation class, explained, “Just as the waters of Mother Ganga flow and flow, never getting stuck, continually dynamic, and yet with an essence that is eternal and unchanging, so our consciousness and awareness should flow – present with each changing moment, yet rooted in an eternal, unchanging essence of the Self.”

Tommy Rosen said, “”Feelings left unprocessed are buried alive! They will act as an energetic blockage to the happiness and health of an individual. Later, if left unprocessed, these energetic blockages will cause a variety of emotional and physical symptoms, which will get more and more serious unless the person shifts onto a path of healing. The minute you start to look away from discomfort, pain and trauma is the minute you allow the seeds of addiction to be planted. We habitually avoid the present moment. That has become our addiction. In the final analysis, we are primarily addicted to looking away.”

In the evening, all participants took part in the sacred and divine world famous Ganga Aarti ceremony at Parmarth Niketan which was graced also by the presence of the Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh Shri Ram Naikji who came from Lucknow on Pujya Swamiji’s invitation just to experience the divine festival. He was so deeply impressed and glad to see the nearly 1000 participants from 55 countries.

Dinner was followed by a satsang and question-answer session with Pujya Sri Shankaracharya, Swami Divyanand Teerthji, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji in which the participants opened up their hearts and asked questions about a wide range of topics ranging from Indian philosophy and culture to personal, intimate questions about their own lives and how to live in a peaceful, yogic way. Even when it was time to end at 9:30 pm, there were still participants with their hands in the air to ask more and more questions and receive wisdom, inspiration and guidance.

Quotations from Participants:

“I’m very happy. As a yoga teacher it’s a dream to come to Parmarth Niketan for the International Yoga Festival” – Paola Acuna, Montvale, Uruaguay

“It’s a magical experience to be at the Yoga Festival with folks from 55 counties all following the yogic path. My heart swells with love being here” – Sue Melbourne, Pennsylvania, USA

“Yoga is my hobby. I want to learn as much as I can here during the IYF. This is my second time to the festival and it’s wonderful to be here again”. – Rashmi Kochar, Ranchi, India

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