The 29th annual International Yoga Festival, held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram saw yogis from 94 countries meditating together on the banks of Mother Ganga this morning. In a beautiful program, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Pujya M.M. Swami Asanganand Saraswati, Sadhvi Abha Saraswati, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati and Gurmukh Kaur led a special two hour experience of chanting and meditation. Sadhvi Bhagawatiji shared also the story of the Goddess Ganga coming onto earth and the meaning for us in our lives today: “Liberation is not just that which happens after we die. It is not the body which binds and chains us. It’s the way we identify with the body and mind. Let the Mother Goddess Ganga flow through you, freeing you and bringing you liberation while IN the body.”

Following the meditation and breakfast in the gardens, the Spiritual Lecture Series, was blessed with a discourse by renowned scientist Dr. Bruce Lipton on the effects of Yoga on our cells and by Pujya Swami Paramadvaitiji spoke about the Yoga of Love.

Class offerings after the spiritual lecture included Kundalini Yoga with world-famous Kundalini yoga teacher Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa of USA, taught on the Yoga Ghat. The other asana intense classes included a class focused on Shiva-Shakti Power with Yogrishi Vishvketu of Rishikesh, Zen Yoga with Hikaru Hashimoto of Japan, Devotional Yoga with Yoshi Aono of USA, and Vinyasa with Katie B Happy of USA.

After lunch in the garden, spiritual discourses included Inbound Yoga with Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Swamiji of South America, Epigentics with Dr. Andrea Paige of Bali, Yoga of Dance & Soul with Daphne Tse, and Healing Sound Bath with Katie Fisher.

The late afternoon classes included a yoga class on Hip and Shoulder Opening by Mohan Bhandari of China, originally from Rishikesh, and Kundalini Yoga with Tommy Rosen of USA. Anand Mehrotra taught Sattva Yoga, Roberto Milletti of Italy taught Odaka Yoga, and Saul David Raye of USA led a class on unlocking our Prana Shakti. Joanna Faso led Mantra Yoga for Mental Health on IYF’s Sacred Sound Stage.

Following Ganga Aarti and dinner, participants enjoyed ecstatic kirtan with the musical group Kirtaniyas. The Kirtaniyas are well-known for their fusion of traditional Indian style vocal music with multi-instruments. Bhakti yoga, or devotional singing and chanting of kirtan is a highlight of the International Yoga Festival. The path of devotion is one that is not common to people in the West the way it is in India, and so Parmarth Niketan has been committed to sharing and offering that special and unique form of yoga with the participants.

Quotations from Presenters and Participants

Sharon Gannon: “The yoga teachings tell us that there are three activities that can help us in our yogic journey towards remembering our connection to the Divine: SATSANG (being together with others who believe that awakening; that enlightenment is possible), PILGRIMAGE (visiting holy places), and LISTENING to enlightened teachings from masters. The International Yoga Festival provides us with all three of those opportunities to evolve to become kinder people and to accelerate our journey to enlightenment- to Self realization.”

Adam Bauer: It’s a special treat to gather here in the land of the rishis, with people from all over the globe, to chant mantra and commune with other practitioners on the path of yoga. So many lovely people, great teachers, inspiring environment and clean energy– and to sing kirtan on the banks of Ma Ganga and listen to Her as we all float downstream: what a blessing!”

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