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Awaken your soul among fellow yogis

Build your positive energy at a holy site in India – one that was famously visited by The Beatles

Previewed by Pallavi Pinakin

Breathe, balance, awaken… but not in your neighbourhood yoga studio! In March, yoga lovers from around the world will head to the little Indian town of Rishikesh with the aim of strengthening their personal practice and growing in wisdom together.

The International Yoga Festival, which began in 1989, features an impressive lineup of classes and events from 1 to 7 March. And as always, there’s a chance of rubbing shoulders with spiritual figures and teachers who are deeply revered in the world of yoga.

Yoga literally means ‘union.’ And the joy of practising this ancient discipline as a community is a rare and memorable experience. This ancient science is not restricted to any one religion or nationality. Rather, it welcomes everyone who wants to improve their physical health, achieve men-tal peace and uplift the soul.
The weeklong festival is extremely immersive, allowing you to experience a more self-aware way of life, away from the hectic pace and thought-less chaos of urban existence. Align your body, mind and soul… and come a step closer to your best self.

INSPIRING COMMUNITY Teachers, students and seekers come together to celebrate the age-old art of yoga at the International Yoga Festival. The atmosphere is filled with positive energy, and a willingness to exchange ideas and learn from one another. The festival will also be welcom-ing a number of talented performers from Israeli and Australian musicians to dancers from local hill communities. There will also be plenty of dis-courses and discussions – a treat for knowledge hunters of the spiritual kind.

IN-DEPTH PROGRAMME The festival is billed to offer some 150 classes conducted by 70 presenters. The programme spans a range of differ-ent schools of yoga: Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Bhakti, Shintoh etc. The festival is also a great opportunity for the curious and open-minded to dip their toes into less familiar practices – e.g. Sanskrit chanting, reiki and Indian philosophy. The daily schedule begins at 4 o’clock in the morning and concludes at 10 p.m.

BORDERLESS FEST Perhaps the most striking feature of the festival is its multicultural nature with enthusiastic participants attending from across the globe. This diversity is a reflection of the popularity yoga has gained over recent decades, prior to which it was only practised in South Asia. Today, thousands of practitioners from lands near and far discuss yogic philosophy with ease, and pull off complicated asanas with im-pressive familiarity – a glowing testament to the deeply rewarding character of this holistic science.

SOULFUL SETTING The holy river Ganga runs right by the town of Rishikesh, which is located in the Himalayan foothills in North India. Lush surroundings, clean mountain air and healing powers of the sacred waters… it’s difficult to imagine a more ideal setting for balancing and rejuve-nating the self. In fact, Rishikesh is considered to be the birthplace of yoga.

ADD-ON ACTIVITIES If you stay for a few days before or after the festival, you’ll relish the opportunity to explore other great experiences in the region: go camping, try whitewater rafting, dabble in Indian classical music and sample excellent Ayurvedic cuisine. You could even visit The Beatles Ashram where the legendary musicians studied transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi back in 1968. The abandoned ashram has a haunting charm, which makes it a worthy pilgrimage for Beatles fans.

RESERVING A SPOT You can buy passes for the 2018 International Yoga Festival online with all the relevant information available on the offi-cial website. The event is organised by the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in collaboration with a number of Indian government agencies. The residen-tial pass includes full access to the festival along with boarding and meals (vegetarian only) at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram. If you’d rather stay elsewhere, reserve a nonresidential pass. Rich in cultural and spiritual significance, Rishikesh is dotted with ashrams as well as more traditional accommodation – so yes, you’ll have plenty of choices.

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