Yoga a Noble Tradition

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Yoga – a Noble Tradition by Sadhviji Bhagawati Saraswati

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji

The Divine Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji Spiritual Leader, PhD, books author, director International Yoga Festival Rishikesh and much more….

The noble traditions of Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama have, over the last three decades, become a catalyst for transformative and positive changes to the mind, body and spirit. As an example, in the United States, yoga practice increased from 9.5% of the population in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017 according to a 2017 National Health Interview Survey. Involvement by children doubled during the same period.  As part of this increased participation, people are coming to realize that Yoga is more than asanas and meditation.

Yoga, as taught by Patanjali, is an eight-fold path with each limb flowing gracefully and naturally, one into the other, yet flexible enough the limbs may be experienced ordered in a multitude of variations. The first two limbs of Yoga are the Yamas and Niyamas, or the ethical rules for living and interacting within community. This, by extension, can encompass the world at large. The third limb refers to the practice of asanas for keeping the body healthy and supple. Asanas are also critical for preparing the mind for the more subtle practices that come next. The fourth limb is Pranayama, or control of the breath – the vital energy permeating the body. It is said that the number of breaths we are allowed to take on this earth was written at the time of our birth. Yoga teaches that longevity depends on the rate at which we breathe. As we lower the rate of breathing, we can increase the length of our lives. Pranayama has an effect on both body and mind, and is a means of attaining higher states of awareness and consciousness.

The final four limbs help to refine and discipline the mind. They are Pratyahara or control of the senses, Dharana or concentration, Dhyana or meditation and contemplation, and Samadhi or enlightenment. One very powerful Dharana is envisioning the world completely devoid of our presence. This reminds us that we are not this body and nothing material is of substantial importance. Samadhi is the final state of enlightenment and oneness with the Supreme Consciousness.

Yoga is primarily a spiritual process designed to help the practitioner attain self -knowledge and Samadhi. It is rooted in Sanatan Dharma. Millions of people around the world are involved in the practice and spread of Yoga. From its origins as Ashtanga, many asana variations have been developed. Examples include Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Bikram. The essence of the original practices, however, remains intact because no new asanas have been developed.

Yoga is also a science that has been verified using scientific methods. Tests have been conducted for decades on the effect of Yoga on the body and mind. Studies show asanas, pranayama and meditation in combination with allopathic medicine can be an alternative treatment for many health issues. Research is now being undertaken to determine whether Yoga can cure and prevent cancer. Initial findings are encouraging, and show that yoga improves the physiological and physical symptoms of cancer patients and reduces stress, thereby improving quality of life.  Yoga is also being studied to determine its effectiveness in treating issues such as autism, PTSD, trauma, anxiety disorders and issues related to the mind.  On the individual level, yoga is an experiential process because the practitioner can directly observe changes in their body and mind as a result of a sustained practice

A whole world of possibilities is available through Yoga, and new opportunities are being discovered every day. Yoga can be considered one of the most important tools in the twenty-first century for health and well-being – physical, mental and spiritual. We humbly request that all teachers and practitioners treat Yoga as their most precious jewel and protect it in the same manner.

Biography

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Ph.D, was raised in an American family in Hollywood, California and graduated from Stanford University. She was completing her Ph.D. when she left America in 1996 to live at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India. She has been living there for 22 years, engaged in spiritual practice and service.

She was officially initiated into the order of Sanyas (monastic renunciation) in the year 2000, by His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, one of the most revered spiritual leaders in India and the President of Parmarth Niketan.

Sadhviji serves as:

Meet  Sadhviji at the IYF 1- 7 March 2019 Rishikesh – Parmarth Niketan Ashram 

Yoga Alliance (International/Australia Proud Media Partner International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) -Media partner International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) proud Media Partner of the International Yoga Festival 2018/2019

Yoga Panorama in Oman by Tomoko Kojima

by TOMOKO KOJIMA owner of a wellness company ” Purewells LLC”

Oman, a connection hub in the Arabian Peninsula between the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), about 45 minutes flight distance from the famous Dubai. A country that is fond for neutral diplomacy so to be called the Switzerland of the Middle East, is where you can feel the real spirit of yoga.

A country overflowing with warm hospitality and generous people with good manners based on seniority respect and family care. Beautiful and expressive mountains, coastline of shallow water, colorful garden of flowers blue like a clear sky, and the capital of Oman, Muscat, where you can feel the balance between the new and the old culture all around the city.

I have had the opportunity to teach yoga for 7 years in Muscat with the exquisite balance. I have noticed change in people’s consciousness toward yoga in the last seven years and more are accepting the concept of yoga. Due to development of technology such as social media, people have greater access and understanding the benefits of yoga. In addition, it has become trendy, health conscious and more acceptable by people to practice the Western style of yoga.

I would like to share the three things that I am most careful about teaching yoga in the Omani market that is still expanding.

– It is said that the class composition of a mix gender is not preferred. However, some women who live overseas don’t mind such class, but the majority are not open for such class.
– It is important to get approval if all pictures taken with women in yoga before sharing on SNS.

– Since there is a possibility that yoga may be interpreted as a religion, chanting is best avoided unless it is for advanced practitioners

Along with the growth of yoga populations and the SNS, Oman’s yoga situation changes year by year. I am looking forward to the maturity of the yoga market in Oman.

 

TOMOKO KOJIMA

Tomoko is a RYT, registered Yoga alliance teacher, from Japan.

She is based in Oman for last 10 years and is an experienced yoga instructor with 7 years teaching and conducts open classes. In addition, she teaches private sessions that are custom designed for her clients to meet their different needs by using various yoga techniques and methodologies that she learned from around the world. Her main focus is mental wellbeing, physical strength and detoxification in an effective manner.

Largest Yoga Championship in the World Beijing 2018

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The largest ever World Championship of Yoga Sports to kick off  Saturday December 1st 2018 in Beijing

The Swiss based International Yoga Sports Federation is organising the largest ever World Championship of Yoga in Beijing, China. This is the first time that the competition is organised in Asia after running in London in 2014 and Italy in 2016 (Pordenone Yogah School).

135 athletes from 32 nations and 5 continents will be participating in this exceptional event, the biggest ever from the foundation of IYSF in 2013, raising interest for Yoga Sports all over the world. Each competitor will be evaluated by 10 international judges on a series of 6 asanas, 1 forward compression, 1 backward, 1 stretching, 1 spine twist, and 2 optional postures. This year the whole event will be placed under the high patronage of Rajashree Choudhoury, who has decided to handover her position of Executive President of IYSF at the end of the competition.

Two Italians are the youngest competitors in the Youth category. One is the 2016 World Champion who will defend “Like a Champion” the well deserved title!   

Let’s see what their Yoga Alliance (Italia/International) ERYT -1500 yoga teachers Nicola De Simone a Bikram qualified teacher and his wife Gabriella Buzzacchi owners of Yogah school in Pordenone with over 40 years teaching experience between them have to say about their young students:

We are glad to bring our champions Davide Toneguzzi and Riccardo Basso, students of the Yogah School since they were five years old, at World Yoga Championships, scheduled in Beijing. Davide Toneguzzi, 15, a student of the “Torricelli” sports school in Maniago, is the current world champion in the Youth category and on December 2nd (at 3 pm local time) in the Chinese capital, he will defend the title won in 2016.

Thanks to the Yogah school and its young athletes, Pordenone has received unexpected planetary visibility. The city and the territory have now repaid the boys of the Yogah School supporting them in this new, exciting sporting adventure. “Pordenone responded with great warmth to our appeal – explains Nicola De Simone, who with Gabriella Buzzacchi directs the Yogah School and is the Master of the two athletes – really a choral participation, almost moving.”

Along with Davide Toneguzzi there will also be a club and contemporary partner, Riccardo Basso. Student of the “Grigoletti” scientific high school, he is twice world and European champion of the Youth category. In short, Pordenone holds world leadership among young yogis.

Yoga Youth World Yoga Champions

Youngest World Yoga Champions from Italy Yogah School- Pordenone and their Master Yoga Teacher Nicola De Simone

Rajashree Choudhoury President International Yoga Sports Federation

Rajashree Choudhoury President International Yoga Sports Federation

For more info, please check:
International Yoga Sports Federation webpage: www.iysf.org
China Yoga Sports Federation webpage : www.cysf.com.cn/?en
Teaser videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-1Kn7T7nYY  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-jxB1Dogk
Facebook live stream: https://www.facebook.com/1592501274391801/posts/1913066002335325/

Influential Spiritual Leaders: H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji

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The life and time of on the most influential Spiritual Leader: H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji President of the International Yoga Festival Rishikesh  

H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji  invites you to join him at the IYF 1-7 March 2019. Register Now:  https://www.internationalyogafestival.org/register/

  

“Welcome Home!” – this greeting is offered to every guest and visitor to Parmarth Niketan Ashram, a true spiritual haven, lying on the holy banks of Mother Ganga in the lap of the lush Himalayas. “Parmarth Niketan” literally means “Dedicated to the Welfare of All.” A friendly welcome and this simple mission statement expand into a vast array of programs and services that are led by or inspired by or driven by, or a combination of the three, the ashram. The ashram runs schools, hospitals, ecological programs and disaster-relief projects with no discrimination on the basis of caste, color, creed, gender or nationality.

I first came to Parmarth Niketan in 2013 on a spiritual adventure, attending the International Yoga Festival. I was hooked – Home! One of the aspects of Parmarth most attractive to me is the charity work. Pujya Swamiji says, “it’s culture, nature, and future” – a culture of love and togetherness, focused on our common nature and this one planet we share, to create the future we desire. This vision is further unfolded in the programs and efforts of the ashram or that are associated with Parmarth. This year I made the personal decision to move to India, to live at the ashram as a sevak, in service to the vision and mission of Pujya Swamiji and the ashram’s various programs.

His Holiness, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji serves as President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Pujya Swamiji selflessly and tirelessly uses every moment as an opportunity to give and to teach others the gift and value of giving. Every day you will find him participating in a multi-variety of activities: Meeting with government officials, faith leaders, and devotees; leading spiritual ceremonies and community programs; offering darshan and inspiring words; and chanting at the inspiring Ganga Aarti celebration held each evening on the banks of the sacred Ganga River in Rishikesh. From His example, countless others are inspired to action in their own communities in the areas of healthcare, education, the environment, and social justice.

The purpose of this story is share with you some of the charitable work of the ashram, seeking to inspire you to make a difference, and perhaps sparking a fire in you to serve in some way or even to come visit us at Parmarth in Rishikesh, India. I have aligned the work with Swamiji’s theme of “culture, nature, and future”.

From a cultural perspective, Pujya Swamiji is part of a global effort to bring faith leaders together for a more peaceful, healthy and sustainable world – a cultural approach for change that is all about nature – the Interfaith Humanitarian Effort. In addition to faith leaders, the ashram brings together Entertainers for Peace, where the stars are inspired to shine for a more peaceful world.

Entertainers have a unique position and opportunity to influence peace and Swamiji challenges them to rise to the occasion. Efforts to bridge business leaders and political leaders are also a piece of the cultural change efforts – all in the name of peace. Lastly, Pujya Swamiji led a labour of love and intellect to create the Encylopedia of Hinduism, sharing one of the most beloved and lasting gifts of the Indian people to the world. The encyclopedia is 11 volumes of more than 7000 entries from over 1000 scholars, bringing together hindu history, scholarship, and contributions to the development of the world. We are One culture, One world – a world that is about Love and Togetherness – if we choose it to be.

Nature is fascinating, complex, ever-changing, and an endless opportunity to see ourselves in relationship to the world around us. Since coming to the ashram, I have learned of some drastic predictions coming from the United Nations around water, global warming, and the impact of food choices on the health of people and our earth. The ashram’s goal is to awaken us all to the difference we make and the changes required. The ashram’s efforts begin at home here in India, where Pujya Swamiji inspires India’s leaders for a clean and green India and a more peaceful world. The ashram’s specific programs include the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA.org), the world’s first initiative to engage the planet’s many faiths as allies in efforts to create a world where every human being has access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene.

Nothing short of a behavior change revolution is require to insure health, sustainable WASH for nearly half of India’s population. One of my favorite signs here at the ashram is for the World Toilet College, providing classroom and outreach trainings that cover the entire range of sanitation projects. Plus, there’s WASH on Wheels which brings dedicated social workers, volunteers and performers to all areas of India; the WaterSchool used to train and motivate teachers and students to learn the principles of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene in order to be agents of social change; and  Women for WASH which seeks to develop women entrepreneurs against pollution, hardship and disease right in their own neighborhoods and villages.

I am much more aware today of the significant role women can and do play in making change for the health of communities and our planet – and nature and culture balance and support one another. The Divine Shakti Foundation (DSF) is dedicated to the holistic well being of women, their children, and orphaned/abandoned children, and to all of Mother Nature and Mother Earth. Again, to make is personal, Menstrual Hygience Management was not on my radar screen before getting involved with Parmarth – it is now and the solutions are so simple – but they require me to think differently and to act differently. Creating a clean, green, and serene world means everyone is supported and barriers to health and wellness are removed. The Ashram’s efforts in these areas includes Gurukuls (schools) and Orphanages, education, and a Rural Development Program. There are programs such as Project Give-Back: The Heart of Healing, a health care program with annual free health care camps in Rishikesh.

Nature is a key element to understanding ourselves and I am convinced that any personal spiritual journey requires me to consider nature. What I understand today is that my relationships to people, to Mother Nature, to communities, is beyond borders and boundaries, and beliefs and ideals. It’s a matter of the heart – and about sameness and connection. Hope is our hands, and programs like Ganga Action Parivar (GAP) raise awareness about the need for collective and holistic, solution-based action to address the crucial issues facing the holy river Ganga. And Ganga broadens beyond this sacred river in India to encompass all rivers, all sources of water, all peoples. Briefly, Pujya Swamiji speaks of environmental preservation and 6 T’s: Toilets, Trash, Taps, Tigers, Trains, Trees – you can visit the ashram website to learn more how each of these has an impact on nature, and is influenced by culture and affects our future.

The final call in Pujya Swamiji’s vision is for the future. I think this is where the personal call most comes in – what future do I want? Knowing what I know now, how do my choices change? Choices around water, food, material possessions, care for my body, community, world – and those around me. It’s an interesting path – one that I find support along the way from the community here at Parmarth, through yoga and meditation, and through meeting amazing people from around the world who are involved in the change. So my last thought is – who do I surround myself with? How do I use my senses – what do I watch? what do I listen to? how do I touch? what do I allow my mind to gravitate towards? Ask yourself these questions – and perhaps our paths will cross as walk the path of “culture, nature, and future”.

I feel a sense of pride and I draw inspiration from these programs and initiatives, being called to make a difference in the world. Change really does depend upon each of us – it is a matter of the heart – the heart of me, the heart of you, the collective Heart of one earth! And for me, through the Heart of the One – the Divine – “any name, any form, no name, no form” – together we can. “Welcome Home!”

You can learn more about the ashram’s charitable mission and projects by visiting www.parmarth.org 

Article by Ed Fink a sevak at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh (Himalayas), India.

Pujya Swamiji receives prestigious Ahimsa award

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H.H Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji &
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji’s historic participation in the Parliament of World’s Religions 2018 

Pujya Swamiji receives prestigious Ahimsa award by Parliament of World Religions TORONTO: Today was a moment of historic pride for India when Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji was awarded the special Ahimsa award by the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto. This evening, Dr. Robert P. Sellers, Chair of Parliament of World Religions, Dr Kirit Daftary, Trustee and representative of the Jain religion, Parliament of World Religions, honoured HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji for his exceptional contributions that enhance and strengthen the interfaith community through non-violence, his unparalleled service to humanity, his great example of peace and compassion in action. The award has been sponsored by Jain communities around the world. H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, one of India’s most renowned leaders, is President of Parmarth Niketan, one of India’s largest interfaith spiritual institutions and co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, the first alliance of religious leaders working for water, sanitation and hygiene, launched by UNICEF at their World Headquarters in New York City during the time of the General Assembly of the United Nations,. He also is founder of Ganga Action Parivar, supporting and dedicated to the Clean Ganga Movement, Divine Shakti Foundation, educating and empowering women and girls, and India Heritage Research Foundation, which conceived and published the historic Encyclopedia of Hinduism and built three historic ashrams in the sacred land of Kailash Mansarovar . The Parliament of Religions, founded in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda came and delivered his historic address has gathered approximately 10,000 people from 50 different religious lineages and from 80 regions of the world at the Toronto Metro Convention center for their 7th Parliament. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, President of Divine Shakti Foundation and Secretary-General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, disciple of Pujya Swamiji’s spoke about Pujya Swamiji as an embodiment of Ahimsa. She said, “Ahimsa is not simply an absence of violence. It is a fullness of peace, a fullness of embracing and acting from the truth of our highest united humanity. Pujya Swamiji sees not only bombs, guns and armed conflict as violence. He also sees starving children, homeless orphans, women without access to clean water or toilets, death by diarrhea, polluted rivers and felled trees as violence. His life has been dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence, not only armed conflict, but also universal access to safe and sufficient water, access to health care and education. Wherever Pujya Swamiji goes He embodies ahimsa, whether picking up trash on the banks of a river or picking up people’s spirits, whether building schools, women’s centers, hospitals and sewage treatment plants or building bridges between people in conflict.