March – RISHIKESH- People from almost 100 countries were held in rapt attention as Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modiji delivered a stirring address at Parmarth Niketan’s renowned annual International Yoga Festival, in cooperation with the Government of India AYUSH Ministry and Uttarakhand Tourism. Organized under the guidance and inspiration of HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President, Parmarth Niketan, the International Yoga Festival is being attended by well-over 1000 people, who are coming from across the world to take part in inspiring lectures and courses by over 70 revered saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts who are teaching 150 offerings throughout the week.
Prime Minister Narendra Modiji’s reverence for India’s ancient art of yoga has done much to inspire the world towards embracing its exceptional benefits. Due to his diligent leadership, in 2015, the United Nations named June 21st as International Yoga Day, leading to a resurgence of yoga practitioners across borders, nations and seas.
His address at today’s International Yoga Festival provided further inspiration to people from across 6 continents, who flocked to Parmarth Niketan’sghats on the banks of the River Ganga to hear his words, which were delivered via live two-way video streaming.
HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji introduced the Hon’ble Prime Minister, eloquently motivating the large crowd, saying, “Our Prime Minister is a man who came here to do yoga and sadhana. But there is a Divine Design. He never stopped being a yogi, and rather than becoming a monk, Shri Narendra Modiji became a Yogi Prime Minister. He is a man who has brought the power of yoga to the world, he is a man of action and perfection. He has the mission and vision not only for India, but for the world: we are all one family.”
Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modii then delivered a beautiful 20 minute address saying “I am very happy to be here through video conference at the International Yoga Festival….There can be no better place than Rishikesh to host the International Yoga Festival. It is a place that has drawn saints, sages and celebrities alike over millennium in quest of peace and for the true essence of yoga….”
The Hon’ble Prime Minister further said “Whenever the quest to know one’s self has begun, the destination has been India and that quest has led them to yoga. Yoga is a call to connection… from a profound sense of self, to seeing mankind and all societies as an expansion of our own self…. Yoga is the journey from me to we…This journey, as a natural by-product brings the added benefits of good health, peace of mind and even prosperity in life….Yoga can prove to be a strong pillar to live a life of discipline and development at a time when emphasis in on personal gain and what one can get out of any endeavour. Yoga offers a refreshingly different approach. Yoga is not about what one can gain out of it, it is rather about what one can give up, what one can get rid of…. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, through his work at Parmarth Niketan has shown a way to live these noble ideas.”
He wrapped-up his talk by emphasizing the importance of the Swachh Bharat Mission and said: ““Let me also take this opportunity to compliment Parmarth Niketan for the active role played by them in the Swachh Bharat Mission, a mass movement towards a clean India… The quest for a clean India is linked to faith and spirituality in this country.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, International Yoga Festival Director and Secretary General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance gave the Vote of Thanks and she said, “India is the only country in the world where a Prime Minister can speak so wisely and deeply about yoga, and also where he not only knows yoga but also lives yoga! Our Hon’ble Prime Minister practices yoga for an hour a day, every morning and then takes his yoga off the mat, into the world, for the other 23 hours a day! Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has addressed the United Nations so many times, but today, he has addressed a United Creation: people of every creed and culture, who are joining hands and hearts in yoga.”
At the end, all the yogacharyas and country ambassadors offered rudraksh saplings to Honouble Shri Modiji.
Many Other Activities of Day 2 of the International Yoga Festival
The second day of the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan began at 4:00 am with a 4: Kundalini Sadhana led by Gurushabd Singh Khalsa from California, USA, followed by the pre-breakfast classes including: Ashtanga Morning Series by Sandeep Desai, Traditional Hatha Yoga Asana with Sun Salutations by Dr. Indu Sharma and a Kundalini class on Your Core and Your Core Desires, led by Gloria Latham of Canada.
After breakfast, the morning intense asana classes took place with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa of California, USA teaching Kundalini yoga, as well as MertGuler of Turkey leading a beautiful Sufi Meditation. Brian Siddhartha Ingle of Ireland taught a Somatic Clinic.
Tommy Rosen of California, USA taught a class entitled The Wonderland of Your Consciousness, and explained“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.”
At 11am, the Spiritual Discourse Series commenced with a highly-motivational address by renowned environmentalist, Dr. Vandana Shiva,andHH Pujya SriShankaracharyaSwami DivyanandTeerthji who uplifted and inspired the audience with a talks on Nature Preservation and the Expansion of Consciousness.
After enjoying lunch in the sunshine, highlights of the afternoon included a talk on Epigenetics by Dr. Andrea Paige from Bali, Indonesia, a Reiki class by MaaGyaanSuveera of India, and a Kirtan workshop led by the Kirtaniyas from California, USA. The Kirtaniyas are well-known for their fusion of traditional Indian style vocal music with multi-instruments.
The later afternoon classes included “Shoulder Bliss”, led by Odaka Yoga Founder, Roberto Milletti of Italy and “Experiencing the Medical Science and Health Benefits from Yogic Postures”, led by Chandra Mohan Bhandari, a former career diplomat and Ambassador of India to Cambodia, and Charat Singh of India. A public yoga class wastaught by Anand Mehrotra of Rishikesh. Kristin Olson of California, USA also taught an afternoon class entitled, “Heaven Bound Heart, Rousing the Spiral.” After dinner, participants were treated to a Kirtan Concert by the Kirtaniyas.
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About the International Yoga Festival:The International Yoga Festival is jointly organized by AYUSH, the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, GMVN and 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 more than 70 presenters, giving nearly 150 classes, from 4:00 am until 9:30 pm.
Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Deep Yoga, Shintoh Yoga and Somatics Yoga are just a few of the more than 60 different offerings throughout the week. There are also classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and much more. Further, spiritual discourses will be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.
There will also be cultural dance/music performances highlighting the culture of this Himalayan Garhwal region as well as music from musicians from Israel, Australia and the U.S.
For more information about the International Yoga Festival and to register, please visit www.internationalyogafestival.org or our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/internationalyogafestival; Twitter and Instagram @IntlYogaFest