If you still haven’t tasted the goodness of yoga and are looking for motivation to get started, it’s time to mark your presence at the International Yoga Festival taking place in Rishikesh from March 1 to 7. You’ll understand that yoga is not just about difficult-looking asanas and breathing techniques but a practice that was developed as a medium to attain the harmony of the body, mind and soul. The word ‘yoga’ means union, so, as its practitioners will tell you, it is about the union of the breath with the body, of the mind with the muscles, and most highly of the self with the divine.
Started in 1989 in a bid to popularize yoga, the salubrious air of Rishikesh, that’s set against the backdrop of mountains and frolicsome white waters of the River Ganga, gets even more surcharged with positivity as keen practitioners and enthusiastic beginners from across the world touch down to be part of it.
This year too, the festival, organised by the Paramartha Niketan, promises a range of events including over 150 classes conducted by 70 yoga experts and presenters from 20 countries. Be prepared for interesting activities that will keep you occupied from the crack of dawn, 4am onwards to be precise, till about 9.30 pm. These will take you through the different styles like Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Deep Yoga, Shintoh Yoga and Somatics Yoga.
Also on the roster are spiritual discourses that will be held by yogic leaders from India and abroad including Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Jeffrey Armstrong, among others. Classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy, etc. will also be organised.
Come evening, and the banks of the Ganga will unveil a divine experience when, to the music of temple bells, devotional strains of the aarti will fill the air. And soon, hundreds of diyas will be set afloat on the river waters. Needless to say, it’s a sight not to be missed. Colourful shows offering not just a veritable slice of the Himalayan Garhwal region’s cultural heritage but also music and dance performances from Israel, Australia and the US are also on the cards.