By Puja Borker
Rishikesh is home to some of the most eminent Yoga schools and ashrams and Parmarth Niketan is one of the most popular Ashrams that attracts thousands of pilgrims from across the globe. Parmarth Niketan Ashram has been organising and hosting the International Yoga Festival since 1999 and has been successful in recreating the essence of the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means “the world is one family.”
The beauty of Yoga is its ability to help one transcend the physical and mental limitations, and it is its effectiveness to seed thoughts of complete unanimity in each and every atom of our being that makes Yoga a truly transformational journey of the self. It dawns on us the feeling of oneness with the cosmos, and makes us see the veracity of the ancient philosophy which states that human body after all, is the microcosm of the universe. The nature of everything is one consciousness, everything is one.
The International Yoga Festival held at the Yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh, is a wonderful platform to experience this spirit of ‘oneness’ as it brings together revered saints, spiritual masters and yogacharyas from around the world, from both the Eastern and Western lineages of Yoga, teaching traditional and modern Yoga styles. The festival is a wonderful opportunity for beginners and seasoned practitioners to meet and learn from leading Yoga Gurus, practice and experience different Yoga styles including Kundalini Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Iyengar Yoga, interact with like-minded people, explore Yoga philosophy and also be blessed with the presence of revered gurus and spiritual masters like H.H.Pujya Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji, H.H.Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, H.H.Radhanath Swamiji, H.H.Pujya Mooji, Swami Ramdev, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, and more.
Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is considered as one of the most sacred places ideal for Yogis who want to delve deeper into meditation practice. The fact that great sages and Yogis have transcended to higher levels of consciousness and have attained samadhi in this sacred land, entices seekers of higher knowledge, truth, and bliss, from all corners of the world, and provides them an apt environment for their sadhana and tapasya.
Thus, the International Yoga Festival continues to grow in leaps and bounds and is now considered as one of the biggest platforms for eminent Yogis to spread and share the knowledge of Yoga with the world. The festival lasts for a week and is filled with over 60 hours of Yoga classes led by renowned Yoga Acharyas and saints. Most of the participants stay at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram which has over 1000 rooms that are rooted in serene simplicity and are well equipped with modern amenities. The ashram also provides traditional Indian and sattvic meals for all their guests. The highlight of the IYF at Parmarth Ashram is the enchanting Ganga arti in the evenings, when spiritual renditions, satsangs, music, and all devotional energies emanating from the eclectic blend of Yoga lovers add on the divine atmosphere.
The daily classes start as early as 4.30 am and are followed by sessions on various styles of Yoga, discussions and lectures on Yoga philosophy, meditation, arti, satsang, cultural dance and song events, campfires and much more.
The 7 day festival encompasses teachings of all the eight limbs of Yoga. It provides a suitable environment to follow yamas and niyamas and extends the teachings and focus beyond asana and pranayama by throwing light on the next four stages that help us foster our understanding of the highest truth and experience higher state of consciousness.
Irrespective of the Yoga style you practice and regardless of whether you are a beginner or a Yoga expert, the IYF experience is bound to increase your knowledge on Yoga and at the same time help you rejuvenate and relax in the laps of the Himalayas and take your practice to the next level.
You can register yourself for the 17th Annual International Yoga Festival 2016 online. Group discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. You can choose to stay at the Ashram where rooms range from $600 to $215 or you can also find some high-end hotels that are located at a walking distance from the Ashram. For more details, please visit http://www.internationalyogafestival.com
It’s been 14 years since author Puja Borker was introduced to Yoga. She also had the opportunity to learn Kalaripayattu (martial art) for a period of 2 years, after which she pursued teacher training courses in Yoga. The journey of transformation, discovering the inner guide and friend continues as she spends time teaching and practicing Yoga and Karmic Healing meditation. Puja believes that accepting oneself and the surrounding is the key to unlocking the door to freedom, good health, opportunities and happiness. She is also the co-founder of an eco-conscious Yoga brand, JURU Yoga props & accessories, she does freelance creative consulting and content writing and she is also a published author.
Photography by Coni Hörler