Today was the fifth day of the 16th annual world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan ashram. 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.

Today’s 4:00 am Kundalini Sadhana was led by Sukhmandir Singh Khalsa, an American Sikh and disciple of Yogi Bhajan, and the focus was Exploring the Frontiers of Consciousness. The early morning, pre-breakfast classes included Ganga Yoga- With Asana, Pranayama and Mantra with Laura Plumb of California, USA, Journey from Here to There: The Five Koshas with Bhavini Kalan of South Africa, Journey from Here to There: The Five Koshas with Vishwaketu and traditional hatha yoga with Sadhvi Abha Saraswati and Indu Sharma.

In the Ganga Yoga, founded and taught by Laura Plumb under Pujya Swamiji’s inspiration and blessing, Laura said: “Go with the Flow. Let Go & Let Ganga. Surrender to divine will. Open your heart and recognize its natural generosity. Let yourself be a river of love. Be the compassion we all seek in the world. Give and Forgive. Pujya Swamiji always says, “Ganga gives and she forgives.” Ask yourself, by Ganga’s example, what are you ready to forgive? How can forgiveness open the rivers of compassion in your own life? Ganga teaches us generosity of heart. She purifies our past, refreshes our soul, and carries us to the ocean of the heart. Through Ganga, we learn to be a river of love for the world.”

In conjunction with Asana practice students were also taught the fundamentals of a proper yogic diet and overall lifestyle with Chandanni Miglino, originally from Iran and now living in the United States. In the “Integrated Whole Health Key to Freedom” Course Chandanni said: “We’ve traveled here from all corners of the earth to come together in celebration of Life, of truth of Unity. What better way than to bow together towards our heart in recognition of the tie that binds, our Divine Breath. Welcome to one of the greatest gatherings of Unity and peace on earth here at the International Yoga Festival at the beautiful and sacred Parmarth Niketan Ashram.”

In the morning asana intensives, Deepika Mehta of Mumbai led the Mysore Ashtanga Series, H.S. Arun led the Iyengar Yoga class on Inversions to Balance Passion, Emotions & the Ego, Kia Miller led a Kundalini yoga inspired class on Radiant Body Kriya, Anand Mehotra, of Rishikesh India taught a dynamic class entitled Opening the Ecstatic Gates to the Heart: Practice of Asana, Pranayama, Kriya, Mudra & Meditation, and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa taught Kundalini Yoga class entitled Magnificent Grace. The students were, as always, enthralled by the depth and breadth of the teachings offered.

Anand explained that, “The goal of the Sattva Practice is to grow and evolve as human beings to our fullest capacity. Through our practice we transcend all limitations based on ideological differences. We heal and the planet heals with us.”

After the intense asana classes, the participants had the unique and divine opportunity to listen to the renowned and revered saint Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji speak on “Know Thyself: The Inner Yoga of Wisdom.” Despite weak health, Pujya Swami Dayanandaji came all the way to Parmarth for the Yoga Festival where his presence and words taught, touched and transformed the participants.

After a beautiful lunch, the participants had numerous offerings, including: “Your Hidden Riches,” taught by New York Times Bestselling Author Janet Attwood where she discussed the ways to discover inner and outer abundance in life through aligning ourselves with our innate abilities and passions. Maa Gyaan Suveera taught about the ancient healing art and science of Reiki, Anjana Bhagat taught how to balance the Emotions through Aromatherapy Oils and Dr. Prakriti Bhaskar taught The Language of Indian Dance.

Also in the afternoon, the Honourable Minister of Urban Development Shri Pritam Singh Panwarji came to Parmarth to witness the beautiful festival and to discuss so many aspects of upliftment of Uttarakhand with Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji.

Before the close of the day, on the banks of Ganga participants were blessed with a satsang with Pujya Shri Prem Babaji from Brazil who spoke beautifully about the importance of love in our life. Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions that were so beautifully answered.

In the evening, all participants took part in the sacred and divine campfire in honor of the holiday of Holi, which included a special Swaha, “letting go ceremony” led by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji in which the participants opened up their hearts, let go, and made space for new beginnings during this divine season.

Quotations from participants:

“The IYF has raised my consciousness to a new level. I will go back to my community and try and help in any way to improve the environment” – Jean Mann, Marin County, California, USA

“I came here because I do yoga. I do yoga because of all the scientific benefits, for my physical and mental well being. Also to gain wisdom and philosophy from people completely opposite backgrounds than me.” -Fergus MacTaggart, Brisbane, Australia

“I am here for the first time. I wanted to let go of my mind in mediation. Today I fully experienced meditation for the first time.” – Emily Scroope, Brisbane, Australia

“They have everything in the world here. I love the classes, lectures and the dance performances”- Annie Hickman, Rockland County, New York