India, acknowledged as the birthplace of the practice of yoga, hosts a wide range of yoga-themed events through the year, attracting visitors from across the world.
As alternative ways of living and a tilt towards a healthy lifestyle gets trendy, the practice of yoga asanas for fitness or a more dedicated practice of a yogic lifestyle is gaining more popularity. Yoga, as an ‘ancient Indian practice’, has been inscribed on UNESCO’s representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Among the large number of gatherings and events centred on yoga, here are five special ones to look forward to in 2017.
India Yoga Festival – Bhakti Camp, Kerala
The popular India Yoga Festival will be organising a Bhakti Camp, on January 4-8 in the soothing backwaters of southern Indian state of Kerala. A fully residential retreat, this gathering will see a special focus on the bhakti or devotional school of yoga, with lessons on the practice, insights on the philosophy through chants and texts and kirtan recitations. There will also be a bringing together of cultures and blended forms of asana practices with the Thai Yoga Massage, AcroYoga and Bhakti Pranayama lessons on offer. The journey will be on houseboats with swamis, ashram directors and teachers from India and other countries such as Spain guiding the camp.
An interesting mix of the arts is also set to be presented, with musicians such as the Spanish ensemble Mantras Con Amor, California-based Kirtaniyas and Deep Deka, an Indian devotional musician who now resides in Germany, slated to perform. Gaura Vani, a multi-disciplinary artist whose events have been described as a mix of participatory rhythm and song; story and dance is also a part of the proposed programme.
International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh
The International Yoga Festival, held since 1989 in Rishikesh, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, is organised by the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, GMVN and Parmarth Niketan Ashram. It will be held on March 1-17 this year. Yogacharyas, teachers, students and seekers get together from all over the world for the festival, with more than 70 presenters from 20 countries slated for this year’s edition. Varied schools of yoga, such Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar, Vinyasa and the more intriguing Shintoh and Somatics Yoga will be offered as lesson. For the spirit, classes in meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, Reiki and insights on philosophy will be offered, alongside spiritual discourses will be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.
Additionally, cultural dance and music performances showcasing the culture of this Himalayan Garhwal region as well as acts by musicians from Israel, Australia and the US will be on the programme. This festival is set to be an event graced by the ‘big names’, with speakers such as Baba Ramdev and Dr Vandana Shiva from India, Canadian Glora Latham, Jivamukti and hip-hop yoga teacher Jules Febre and co-founder of the school of Jivamukti Yoga Sharon Ganon likely to be present.
Competition by the Bay of Bengal
The 23rd International Yoga Festival, Puducherry
The 23rd International Yoga Festival, a festival that has been happening since 1992 will be conducted on January 4-8 at Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, a Union Territory in south-western India. Cultural programmes are also to be a part of this festival organised by the government of Puducherry through its department of tourism. Puducherry, formerly part of the French colony in India, makes for a great place to visit with the Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville as must-see sights. The programme for the festival consists of discourses and workshops on topics ranging from stress to daily application of yoga.
Yogasana competitions for various age groups of both men and women, and the announcement of the champion of the meet are the main takeaways of the festival. Personality development sessions and meditation programmes are also the highlights of this event along with yogic music and therapy.
Music and harmony in the hills
Samsara Festival, Himalaya Edition, Bir
Samsara Festival that originally takes place in Hungary is a worldwide annual get-together of lovers of yoga, psymbient music, dance and nature. Samsara Himalaya Edition, October 22-31, 2017, will be taking place as a confluence with Bir International Yoga Festival, conducted by the organisation Arya Marga Yoga, in Bir village in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It will serve as a platform for experienced Yoga, Qigong and Tai chi teachers, healers from the fields of Reiki, Ayurveda and Chinese and Tibetan acupuncture to get together. Healing and evolutionary arts of Sound and Vision healing with a psybient line-up for the music stage is set to delight visitors.
Held in and around the environs of the Tibetan section of Bir village, a special yoga roundtable conference is to be held to help bring together authentic masters of the grand lineages and traditions and the modern practitioners or teachers of yoga.
Time for business
Yogashala Expo, New Delhi
The 2nd International Yoga, Health and Wellness Exhibition, titled ‘Yogashala Expo’ will be held in the capital city of India, New Delhi on June 16-18, 2017. Attempting to bring national and international yoga experts together to explore various health and wellness related opportunities, this is a unique trade event. As a platform for business houses and individuals related to yoga, ayurveda, homeopathy, unani and siddha, the expo can be a fruitful space for developing partnerships and initiating joint ventures in these fields.
There will also be workshops, seminars, astrology consultancy and many activities for such research areas. Leaders, health professionals and experts will be present to speak on the alternative wellness practices such as yoga.