“A Yogi is equal to all beings and roams freely, free from any ties and homeless like the wind”
– Sage Vyasa to Shuka (Mahabharata 12.240.31)
The word Yoga means to yoke, to unite so Yoga is union, integration of body, mind and soul. Still, your yoga practice is what you make out of it – you can use it or abuse it but remember: every time you do something good you do it for whole the world, and every time you do something bad to someone else you do it to yourself too – the choice is yours! There is too much competition, egoism and anger in this world… Choose to be smart, wise, kind, honest, natural… Do virtues, do patience, do compassion, do love! Our planet is in a mess made by our deviated human brothers and sisters, that is our collective heritage and our mission is to save our home: to stop blame games, to learn from old mistakes and to be love in action – to do holistic alteration starting from ourselves. That is why we all need yoga; we need more yoga practitioners as well as more great teachers. Some may say we already have too many yoga teachers, but we still need more – we don’t need fake gurus or ego maniacs, we need kind persons who honestly share their experience and inspire others… Whether you are just a beginner or a lifelong yogi it’s important that you put your intentions and your actions into creative change, constructive holistic change for all. Let go of fear, let go of self-sabotage, remember – you are in the world and the world is in you. Don’t be afraid to say: I matter because when I am better the whole world is better.
“Yoga = Love” Swami Krishnabodhashrama
“Yoga = Love” states Swami Krishnabodhashrama, Jagadguru Shankaracharya (Pontiff) of Jyotirhmath, in an article written in 1964.
Yoga is physical, mental and spiritual practice which originated in India thousands of years ago and we celebrated first International Yoga Day on June 21th 2015. There are still various controversies about yoga origins, yoga industry, yoga gurus etc. but there is at least one thing all yogis agree with: yoga benefits. Yoga improves our lives. Don’t believe us, try it for yourself.
‘Practice and all is coming.’ – Pattabhi Jois
Before exploring practical aspects of yoga, everyone should know some basic stuff, little bit of theory such as yoga philosophy and its, conditionally speaking, classification – it should be common knowledge. Today when we say yoga we mostly think of Hatha yoga, when we say Ashtanga yoga we mostly think of Pattabhi Jois tradition and when we say Kundalini yoga it often refers to Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, but there are many other yoga methods, both classical and modern. Besides, yoga is traditionally taught orally and in oral teachings, there is a natural movement from one to another aspect of yoga. On the other hand, books are naturally linear in nature, and clustered into chapters, so books and organization may be useful, but we need to bear in mind that Yoga is a whole which has different aspects. As Siddhartha Krishna Ji (www.siddhartha-krishna.in), Sanskrit scholar and Yoga Philosophy teacher often says to his students: ‘We should treat yoga as a lotus and its different aspects as the petals of the same one lotus.’
In western world today yoga is still mostly understood as asana practice, but yoga is so much more then ‘downward-facing dog’ position… Yoga is a way of life – life in nonviolence, forgiveness, self-control, compassion, peace, sense-withdrawal, meditation, truthfulness. In the words of Eric Paskel, “Yoga is not about tightening your ass. It’s about getting your head out of it.”
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked world leaders to adopt an International Yoga Day; addressing UN General Assembly, he said:
“Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
On June 21st 2017, the world celebrated third Yoga Day, although we know that every day is yoga day. But this special event is an opportunity to connect with more yoga friends from around the globe, to share our experiences, to explore different yoga teachings, to remind ourselves to celebrate life itself! The most beautiful ‘consequences’ of International Yoga Day are various yoga festivals and shinny happy people practicing yoga together.
This year we bring you a story from International Yoga Fest, held in Amsterdam, Netherlands (www.yogafestinternational.com) thanks to wonderful organizer and director Karianne Kraaijestein and her team.
Beautiful location – Westergasfabriek with several indoors and outdoors places, guest teachers from around the globe, lectures, classes, workshops, holistic massages, sound healing, delicious healthy food & drinks at cosy Cafe Sage, lovely yoga gear, great books and ayurveda products and so much more… all in one place for two sunny days!
Festivals are an excellent opportunity to try and test different yoga methods, there were so many options on Amsterdam Yoga Fest: festival opened with Tree of Souls practice by Marlene Henny, then Jivamukti with teacher Libby Love, but the most fun for me was Andreas Trussat’s yoga dance workshop ‘Express Yourself’.
Anne from Rotterdam, Netherlands
My girlfriend persuaded me to come with her to yoga festival, and honestly I enjoy every second of it. We went to ‘Awakening the scorpion within’ class by Felix Price and it was awesome! Also I really like meditative music by Abria Joseph.
Mario from Paris, France
I was here last year too, so I knew it will be wonderful! My favorite Dutch yoga teachers are Eline van der Kam & Andrea Page! I will be here next year again definitely!
Sophie from London, UK
‘Chakra’s Talk’ by Anat Geiger was deeply interesting as well as ‘Nourish the body, calm the mind’ by Lennart Keijser and the first time ever I had the opportunity to try restorative class of Aerial yoga by Janneke van Amelsfoort, so fantastic, beyond words!
Jelena from Belgrade, Serbia
I am a long time hatha yoga practitioner and thanks to my regular practice I learn something new about my body and mind with every new day. Sound healing by Tai Loi was amazing and Yoga Rave by Boys of Yoga was an unforgettable experience!
Valeria from Barcelona, Spain
I am so happy that we have such a wonderful festival here in Amsterdam, so many international yoga teachers but also visitors from many countries. I practice Ashtanga yoga, just had an amazing class ‘Ashtanga as it is’ with Gibran Gonzales, but I also want to try Kundalini yoga since it is something completely different and new for me.
Irma from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Kundalini yoga teachers Marieke Janna & Tim Schipper, founders of Kundalini Yoga School in Amsterdam are back home after teaching at the Kundalini Yoga festivals in Germany and Austria and giving their retreat in Italy. Their masterclass at YogaFest in Amsterdam was very inspiring and energizing.
Special guest-lecturer at the festival was well-known dr Robert Svoboda, author of many books about Ayurveda and holistic way of life, like ‘Tao and Dharma: Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda’, ‘Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution’, ‘Ayurveda for Women’ etc.
Eline van der Kam, one of the most inspiring yoga teachers from Amsterdam held ‘Learn to meditate’ workshop. ‘Meditation for me is like coming home. In meditation we are becoming still, becoming the observer to see what is happening in our body and mind without interfering. While meditating I’m watching my thoughts knowing that I am not my thoughts. I’m watching my body knowing that I’m not my body. I’m watching my emotions knowing that I am not my emotions. Observing without interfering is like having a glass of muddy water – when it becomes still, mud goes down on bottom and you can see everything clearly. Meditation gives clarity.’ – Eline van der Kam, De Nieuwe Yogaschool, Amsterdam (www.denieuweyogaschool.nl)
-The experience of yoga fest Amsterdam was a delightful one! The organization and the layout of the festival gave room for people to explore and still be very intimate with in classes. I love the different array of teachers from all around the world and was so thankful to be able to share music with the Handpan and offer sound for people to go deeper. I look forward to future events as well as next year’s yoga fest Amsterdam – Abria Joseph, yoga teacher and alchemist musician.
Special guests yoga teachers were Boys of Yoga (www.boysofyoga.com): Michael James Wong, Marc Laws and Dustin Brown. Their Yoga Rave workshop was really one of a kind yoga party. Thanks to these global yogi warriors there was some spontaneous acro-yoga practice too, and lots of smiles and hugs. Simply – good vibrations all around!
Dustin Brown noted the importance of gratitude: ‘It is impossible to be fearful or angry when you are in the state of gratitude.’
Marc Laws reminded us of the main rule for happiness: Appreciation over Expectation: ‘In any relationship in our lives, including with ourselves, or any circumstances… if we have expectations that means we want to change the person. Instead if we come from a place of appreciation there is no room for expectation or dissatisfaction.’ Remember those words and appreciate the present moment. Breathe with gratitude, smile and celebrate yoga every day! Namaste from wonderful Amsterdam!
PS- What is your favorite yoga festival?
Text by: Maja Pakic
Photos by: Leo Antonic