Today was the 3rd Day of the 29th annual, world famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, in cooperation with AYUSH Ministry of Government of India, Uttarakhand Tourism and GMVN.

A special “Karma Yoga” Humanitarianism award was presented to Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan by BhaktiFest, the world’s largest event for Bhakti Yoga, based in California, USA. The Founder and head of BhaktiFest Sridhar Silberfein came personally from the United States to the International Yoga Festival to present the award to Pujya Swamiji for His great work for women, children, Mother Ganga and the Environment.

As Sridhar explained, “Pujya Swamiji is the model of all three streams of yoga – bhakti, gyan and karma. His great devotion (bhakti) and great wisdom (gyan) lead him to be an outstanding and award-worthy humanitarian (karma). BhaktiFest is honoured to present him with this award.”

The morning began at 4am with Kundalini Sadhana with Gurushabd Singh Khalsa, followed by the morning yoga classes from 6:30 – 7:30am. Highlights of the morning classes included Morning Hatha Practice, taught by Krishnamurthy Mohan Raj of China, and Power Pranayama and warm up by Yogiraj Vishwapal Jayant of India. California, USA based teacher Laura Plumb taught a class entitled the Yoga of Love. Laura Plumb is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and co-founder of Deep Yoga.

The morning intense asana classes included a Kundalini yoga class taught by Kia Miller of Los Angeles, California. Kia Miller said,  “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.”

Francesca Cassia of Italy, co-founder of Odaka Yoga, taught a Happy Hips Flow class and Gloria Latham of Canada led a Journey through the Chakras. Other mid morning classes included a Hatha based class taught by Kristin Olson, of California, USA and a Vinyasa Flow and Standing Asana class by Bharath Shetty, founder and director of IndeaYoga.

Presenter Kristin Olson said, “Let us collectively become lovers of prayer emboldened by our sangha on the Ganga!”

After lunch in the garden, the afternoon classes included a class on balancing emotions using aromatherapy taught Dr. Anjana Bhagat, an aroma therapist and speaker on Wellness and Healthy Living and an inspiring talk on Epigenetics, the Power to Change the Unconscious Mind by renowned scientist Dr. Bruce Lipton.

The afternoon concluded with a beautiful, divine satsang with Pujya Sri Mooji. Mooji’s style is direct, clear, compassionate and often humorous. Once caught in the grip of his questions, there seems to be no place to hide. A large number of devotees, seekers and yogis sat enthralled in his satsang on Parmarth’s Yoga Ghat, alongside the beautiful and flowing Mother Ganga.

In the divine Ganga Aarti yogacharyas and IYF volunteers were honoured and blessed by Pujya Swamiji. Some of whom included, Swami BA Paramadvaitiji from Germany and South America, from the USA Yogacharyas Kia Miller, Brian Siddharth Ingle, Chris and Chandhanni Miglino, Erica Kaufman, Laurie Larson, from the United Kingdom Rena Pathak and Lorissa, from India Bharat Shetty and Preeti Pandher from New Zealand.

Thereafter participants were treated to a cultural dance performance by Anita Babu and her Odissi Natya Sala, as well as by Ayu Laksmi of Bali, Indonesia.

Quotations from participants:

“I came back because of the amazing friends that I met last year. It is the yoga festival itself that brings all these amazing people here that I know I’m going to meet and form new friendships.” – Neeta, Australia

“IYF is a gift from me, to me.” – Christine from Canada

“It’s my very first time abroad and I chose India, but I feel like I’m at home. It feels like a part of me” – Trish, Utah, USA.

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