This March, I had an opportunity to attend the 2019 International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India. It was my first time visiting Rishikesh and, needless to say, it was an experience to remember.
The festival was at the shores of the river Ganga (Ganges) in an ashram called Parmarth Niketan (which means "place for eternal meaning"). To get to Paramarth Niketan, we had to take a footbridge across Ganga called the "Ram Jhula". The background music of the gently flowing Ganga, coupled with the fragrance of incense sticks, chanting of prayers at various temples and tolling of bells gave the place a special spiritual feel. Almost all of the posters on the walls were related to interesting Yoga events and so many people of all races and religions were walking about. It felt like the perfect setting for an International Yoga Festival.
Ram Jhula at night
River Ganga at Paramarth Niketan
Mexican contingent in traditional gear
Over 150 countries were represented
The parade with all the countries
At the International Yoga Festival, there were a vast array of yoga sessions on offer. Session spanned various yoga types and were taught by some of the best teachers in the world. I got to try Kundalini (Teacher Anand Mehrotra), Ashtanga (Teacher Sharadh Jois) and Vinyasa (Teacher Mohan Bhandari) sessions. While Ashtanga and Vinyasa sessions were tough and physically taxing, the Kundalini session was an intense and amazing experience. In the session Anand played background music and he synced it with the deep breathing techniques coupled with simple physical gestures that amplified the breathing. I was light-headed and happy after the session.
Meeting with Sharadh Jois - son of the founder of Ashtanga yoga - was amazing
Ashtanga yoga class with Shardh Jois
One of the best parts was meeting all the amazing domestic and international attendees who were just as excited about the event as we were.
Contingent from Pune
Maneesh meeting attendees
We also visited a few yoga schools in Rishikesh and met with their representatives.
Overall, it was such an amazing experience and a well-organized event. Look forward to being back again next year!!!
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