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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Indian Vogue

Yoga festival in US
Indo-Asian News Service, PTI
Seattle, May 20, 2003
First Published: 00:00 IST(20/5/2003)
Last Updated: 18:19 IST(20/5/2003)

People of all backgrounds and ages flocked to a yoga festival here organised by an American couple and that included performances by classical musicians Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Joseph Rodin organised the NorthWest Yoga Festival. "People came from India, Australia and Europe to participate," Rodin told Seattle based media India HQ.

The first such festival, it was a veritable celebration of all things yoga.

It became a convergence point for teachers and yoga students of all ages and experience, from children to seniors and cautious beginners to serious practitioners. The festival also had exhibits, merchandise and food.

Rodin and his wife Holly have had the idea of this festival for a while now.

"In India you have the Kumbh Mela, where people come together to learn about the truth. I wanted to simulate a similar experience for people here.

"Most yoga conferences here in the US are exercise based, there is a huge demand for that so I have a lot of that here but I wanted it to be more like a festival and celebration. This isn't the end of my vision but a good start."

Rodin has been practising yoga for almost two decades.

"I grew up in San Diego where Parmahans Yoganand had his ashram. One day I went to the ashram and spoke to some monks there. I felt something special, so became a student of yoga and have been hooked since."

The activities at the festival ranged from workshops in all forms of yoga, classes on subjects like how yoga can help one overcome health problems and low self esteem to lecture-demonstrations, keynote addresses and concerts. 

Teachers brought their experiences to the festival this month while the attendees brought energy and enthusiasm. It was interesting to see different teachers use varied models and methods.

Theresa Elliot during her class, "Working with the core of the Body Part", used a skeleton model to explain the relation of various parts of the body when practising different postures. 

Each day ended with a special event, like the concert by tabla maestro Hussain and santoor expert Sharma.

Held in partnership with Ragamala, the concert was definitely the high point of the entire festival. With not a single empty seat in the house, music lovers had travelled from far and wide to attend the music session.

The setting was pristine, almost sacred, and, as the two living legends performed, the listeners were lost in the purity of their rhythms and melodies. 

One didn't realise where the beats of the tabla melted in to the strains of the santoor. The camaraderie between the two musicians was something only a live performance could display.   

Rodin hopes to make the NorthWest Yoga Festival an annual event in the spiritual calendar of Seattle and hopes that "truth and wisdom will use this festival to express itself".


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