International Day of Yoga

Health is Wealth. Peace is happiness. Yoga shows the way.     – Swami Sivananda

There is a certain buzz this morning as the world celebrates the very first International Day of Yoga. Wonderful images of mass yoga practices from different countries are already flooding the internet.

As someone whose life was quite literally transformed by yoga, I couldn’t be happier.

Yoga came to me quite randomly. It had completely passed me by for the first 25 years of my life in India and then one ordinary afternoon in a totally deserted library in Milford, USA I picked up a copy of ‘An Autobiography of a Yogi’. How had I not heard of it back in India ? It was fascinating, Intriguing and it left me searching for more.

It led me to my guru Swami Niranjananda Saraswati of the Bihar School Of Yoga who took all the mumbo jumbo out of gurus and babas and made yoga real for me. I heard him talk at the JJ School Of Art in Bombay during one visit. There was no glamour to it, no promises of spiritual enlightenment just the actual practice and the awareness that goes with it. You have to like a guru who said you cannot walk down the spiritual path and hope to become a yogi (even an amateur one )if you can’t even remember to switch off the lights when you leave the room! One had to actually practice yoga- do the asanas, the pranayama and the meditation, he said. Put in the hours. There were no shortcuts.

Soon afterwards we moved to London and I found the Sivananda Yoga Centre as I was walking down the high street where I lived. The only centre in the UK and it was on my doorstep! It felt like more than a co-incidence. This wonderful centre became my home, my refuge, my place of learning. It is here that I learnt the traditional asanas, became familiar with the Vedanta philosophy and attended my first satsang that got me interested in Hinduism. It didn’t happen in India. It happened here in London!

Somethings transcend all boundaries and yoga is one of them. Thank god.

If you live in London join the Sivananda Yoga Centre in its massive celebrations. A boat leaves this morning at 11.00 am from the Putney Pier to the Southbank Centre where there will be free yoga classes, talks by the Acharyas and the High Commissioner of India. You can also a vegetarian meal and take the boat back to the centre for the evening satsang and talks.

Find the full programme on their website http://www.sivananda.org/london/