International Yoga Festival 2023 Concludes with Great Synergy & Energy
Valedictory Session concludes the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan with Hon’ble Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Pujya Acharya Mahamandeleshwar Swami Avdheshanand Giriji of the Juna Akhara, Dr HR Nagendraji, Chancellor of SVASYA and Governing Council Member of Indian Yoga Association, Raja Lewis, eminent leader of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogiji’s Transcendental Meditation movement, alongside Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director, International Yoga Festival and IYF teachers, presenters and participants from across the world
Special Synchronised Surya Namaskar to honor the 100th day countdown to the International Day of Yoga celebrated on 21st June each year with Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Director of IYF
Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji’s 52th Birthday was celebrated during the last day of the International Yoga Festival with prayers, yagya as Yoga Teachers and Participants from around the world honored her life, her journey and her book “From Hollywood to the Himalayas.”
RISHIKESH: The final day of the International Yoga Festival (IYF) 2023 began with honoring the 100th day to the International Day of Yoga, celebrated on 21st June each year, with the special sun salutation the “Surya Namaskar” offered at the feet of Lord Shiva on the banks of Mother Ganga, at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh in the divine presence of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Directory of world famous International Yoga Festival (IYF) this morning.
The Festival is being successfully organised by Parmarth Niketan, with the support of Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, in association with the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.
The Valedictory Session took place in the evening with Hon’ble Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Pujya Acharya Mahamandeleshwar Swami Avdheshanand Giriji of the Juna Akhara, Dr HR Nagendraji, Chancellor of SVASYA and Member of Indian Yoga Association, Raja Lewis, eminent leader of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogiji’s Transcendental Meditation movement, alongside Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Director, International Yoga Festival and IYF teachers, presenters and participants from across the world. Everyone took part in a special Ganga Aarti and a special LIVE concert by the Kirtaniyas.
SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS:
Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji’s 52nd Birthday was celebrated during the last day of the International Yoga Festival with prayers, sacred yagya as Yoga Teachers and Participants from around the world honored her life, her journey, her presence and impact in their lives and her book “From Hollywood to the Himalayas.”
During a very special morning yagya there was beautiful sharing by Pujya Swamiji who said, “I am so proud to see how Pujya Sadhviji* has dedicated her entire life like a sacred yagya in the selfless service of Bharat Mata. She is a Guru and guide to so many people across the world bringing light, love, peace and yoga to wherever she goes. Her journey from Hollywood to the Himalayas is a journey that inspires countless many to offer everything they have to the service of humanity. Her life is yoga in action and yoga in its truest essence.”
Rev Michael Bernard Beckwith, Ira Trivedi, Gil Ron Shama and many others shared their experiences and deepest regards for Pujya Sadhviji’s divine presence and association in their life.
*Pujya Sadhvij has done her PhD from Stanford University, USA and has been living in Parmarth Niketan Ashram for the past 26 years. She is the Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international interfaith organization dedicated to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; president of Divine Shakti Foundation, a foundation that runs free schools, vocational training programs, and empowerment programs. She serves on the United Nations Advisory Council on Religion and on the steering committees of the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty, a campaign by the United Nations and World Bank. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by U.S. President Joe Biden for her lifelong commitment to volunteer service. She was also the Managing Editor for the monumental project of the 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. She oversees a variety of humanitarian projects, teaches meditation, lectures, writes, counsels individuals and families and serves as a unique female voice of spiritual leadership throughout India and the world.
FINAL SPIRITUAL PLENARY HIGHLIGHT:
In the final Spiritual Plenary session of the International Yoga Festival of 2023, Ken Honda of Japan who is a best-selling author of self development books, including his most popular one “Happy Money,” was joined by Swami Svatmananda, ordained monk and teacher of the Vedas who has learned first hand from teachers like Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and Gurushabd Singh Khalsa, Co-founder of Golden Bridge Yoga, who has had the unique opportunity to learn from Yogi Bhajan for 25 years, and it was beautifully moderated by Ganga Nandini of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Director of Projects & Communication for the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance in the session titled “The Yoga of Abundance: The Dharma of Prosperity.” The theme and the talks spoke to establishing a healthy relationship with money and wealth and utilising it with dharma and balance. Ken Hondas summed up the session by sharing, “We must see money and wealth as an energy flow and then it will be easier to let go.” They spoke to earning and being successful but most importantly being happy, healthy and content within, emphasizing that more money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness. They shared tips and techniques to welcome more abundance and prosperity into our lives.
Dr HR Nagendraji, Chancellor of SVASYA, concluded the session by sharing about the various initiatives, activities and programmes that the Ministry is doing ahead of International Day of Yoga.
SUMMARY OF LAST DAY:
The last day included an enriching session on Vedic Chanting by Sadhvi Abha Saraswatiji of Parmarth Niketan. This was followed by “ in Silence! Lila Yoga Sun Salutations in Precious Nada” by Erica Kaufman who is a yogini and a Contact Improviser. She directed the Lila Yoga studios in Pennsylvania, USA. Dr. Indu Sharma of Rishikesh took up a session on “Hatha Yoga – Chakra Alignment” where she covered topics on flow, balancing and unblocking of the 7 chakras using Hatha Yoga asanas. At the Yoga tent, Sensei Sandeep Desai who is based in Mumbai and is a Master of T’ai Chi, Yoga and Martial Arts. He has several international Accolades to his name and participants had the opportunity to learn the T’ai Chi Dance under his guidance. This form of dance is derived from a blend of Tai Chi sword, Kung Fu and other martial arts. Its vigorous and fast movements are great as individual or group exercise routines. Stewart Gilchrist of London, who is firmly established in the devotional Yoga of Abhyasa took a session titled “Yoga Vrksa -The Pranic Leaves, the Bark and Sap”. The first part of the day concluded with the Sunrise Nāda Yoga on the Ghat conducted by Anandra, Gumi & Arindam.
After a nutritious breakfast, the programs for the rest of the day began with a melodious Kirtan Workshop and Mantra Alchemy by Kirtaniyas, a musical band based in India. Dr. Radhika Nagrath, a Government certified RPL-level 5 Yoga who has been associated with Patanjali Yogpeeth for the past 25 years, took an essential session on Mind-Body Balance through Yoga. Through this, she emphasized that regular practice of asanas and pranayama helps deepen the awareness of the mind. Yogrishi Vishvaketu, a world renowned yoga teacher and founder of the Akhanda Yoga Institute took the participants on a journey to learn about the History and Practice of Classical Sun Salutations. He traced the origin of these Namaskars to Vedic Times over 3500 years ago. A session titled “Tuning into a Grateful Heart ” by Anand Mehrotra talked about the value of humility and satisfaction in one’s life. At the Sacred Sound Stage, Dr. Katy Jane of USA, is a counseling Vedic astrologer, Sanskrit & world religions scholar, conducted a much-awaited masterclass on Sanskrit and the power of Mantra chanting in “Mantra as Medicine: How Chanting Sanskrit Heals the Mind”.
A balanced lunch was served at the Garden for all the participants and instructors.
Post lunch, the second half of the day started with an informative session by María Alejandra Avcharian, a well-known Ayurvedic Medicine Therapist, talked about Agni and Digestion. She explained that Ingested food is to be digested, absorbed and assimilated, which is unavoidable for the maintenance of life, and is performed by the Agni. Dr. Devaki Madhav, a well-known personality in Mysuru who has taken the practice of Pranayama to international level conducted a masterclass on the arm of breathing and Pranayama titled “Scientific Pranayama for Total Wellness’ . Dr. Urmila Pande of Haridwar, founder of Niramaya Yoga, talked about Pranic Nidra and Cosmic healing. Participants were learnt to sense, awaken, distribute and withdraw prana consciously for healing themselves and others. In Cosmic Healing, the user makes use of the cosmic energy to achieve spiritual healing. At the Yoga tent, Dr. Indu Sharma of Parmarth Niketan, conducted a class on Yoga Nidra and it’s 5 stages. At the Yoga Ghat, Rohini Manohar founder of the Chennai Yoga Studio, took up a topic called YinYasa which is a hybrid of yang (active yoga) with yin (passive yoga). It is considered a powerful pairing of two different disciplines of asana. Astrid Slegten, a sound therapy and yoga facilitator based in Brussels, Belgium, conducted a riveting session on the correlation between sound and healing in Yoga. In the session titled “In Sound We Rest: Restorative Yoga & Healing Sound”, At the Sacred Sound Stage, Astrid talked about how sound can not only restore physical and mental well-being but also is a path to spiritual awakening. Participants learnt about “Gratitude and the Spiritual Perspective on Abundance” with Ken Honda of Japan who brought his unique perspective on the subject. Paula Tapia of USA, an international Yoga, mindfulness and wellness expert demonstrated Restorative Yoga techniques. “An Introduction to Classical Tools of Sound Medicine for Self Healing” helped participants to understand the fundamentals of Sound as a means to Self Healing through Kal Prakashini’s class. At the Yoga Tent, Saul David Raye, an internationally acclaimed teacher, healer, and spiritual activist, shed light on “Soul + Soma” and Awakening the Inner Body through Somatic Work, Intuition & Rejuvenation in Yoga. In addition, after sessions on “Ayurvedic Clinical Potentialities” by Ayurveda experts, Dr. Raghavan Ramankutty & Mrs. Sarada Raghavan of Kerala at the Yoga Ghat and “Homeopathy of Sound: Neural Network Wellness” by Joseph Schmidlin of USA who is a renowned practitioner of holistic medicine, a tea break was arranged for all participants which marked the end of all classes and demonstrations for the day.
To mark the end of IYF 2023 the final Ecstatic Devotional Chanting and Kirtan with Kirtaniyas left the participants with a joyous note.