International Yoga Day was quite the talk of the town, with 192 countries conducting events of some kind. Here’s a look at how Sadhguru and Isha were involved in India.

Isha Foundation was actively involved with the Ministry of AYUSH from the conception stage of the first International Day of Yoga. Being a part of both the Expert Committee and the Steering Committee, Isha played a key role in the celebrations on June 21.

As part of the Steering Committee, Isha was involved in formulating a plan and executing the International Yoga Day celebrations both inside and outside the country.

As part of the Expert Committee, Isha was involved in the formulation of the Common Government Protocol, which was released by the Ministry of AYUSH. Isha was also involved in preparing some of the video and print material for the event and providing technical assistance to create video, brochure and other information packages. As part of the Steering Committee, Isha was involved in formulating a plan and executing the International Yoga Day celebrations both inside and outside the country.

In a curtain-raiser event to welcome the First International Day of Yoga, the Embassy of India, Washington DC organized a talk by Sadhguru on the “Relevance of Yoga in Modern Life“, on May 11, 2015.

The Confederation Of Indian Industries (CII) also organized a pre-event function in Delhi where the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Mahesh Sharma and ex-President CII Ajay Shriram were in conversation with Sadhguru and discussed the topic of “Why Yoga”. India Today also conducted a pre-IYD event, called Body Rocks, where Rahul Kanwal, Managing Editor of TV Today Network, hosted Sadhguru for an interesting talk about “Making the Body Rock for You”.

On June 20, Sadhguru conducted a session for about 5000 people in Bengaluru, which was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah. Sadhguru also conducted a session in Chennai on June 21 for 25,000 people, which was inaugurated by Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu.

Dhivya, who volunteered in Bangalore in conducting the Upa-Yoga sessions, speaks of how the specially designed IYD practices were short but powerful. “The effect that a 90-minute module has on people is an advertisement for yoga like none other. Just a few simple practices and people come out genuinely touched, with a takeaway that is not just a glimpse of something profound but a practice that they can sustain. To see the same experience across diverse age groups, academic backgrounds and social strata has in itself been a revelation. A validation for the universal nature of humanity and an underscore for the universal longing for more than the daily activity of life.”

1200 volunteers from the Isha Yoga Center participated in the event held at Rajpath in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 21.

Additionally, Isha Foundation tied up with Spice Jet for a unique initiative called High On Yoga @ 35000 Feet. Upa Yoga was taught to all those on board SpiceJet flights on June 21. SpiceJet has confirmed that they will be offering these practices on long-haul flights in the future as well.

Bringing Yoga to the Lords

George Khayat, a volunteer in UK, shares his experience of being at an Isha Upa-Yoga session at the House of Lords, the UK Parliament, on June 23. “Two days after the IDY celebrations, Isha was invited by Lord Bilimoria to the House of Lords to take part in a session aimed at raising awareness of yoga in the UK Parliament. As a volunteer, I had the privilege of watching some of the most politically important people in the United Kingdom listen attentively to a video of Sadhguru explaining the history of yoga, and what it really means to practice it. There was silence in the cool oak paneled room as the fifty men and women engaged in a Chit Shakti meditation.

Lord Bilimoria had told us earlier that people would be walking in and out of the hall due to the hectic nature of governing a country! However, once the room had settled, not one person took their leave. It was extraordinary to see everyone, regardless of his or her age, remove their shoes and embrace the simple yogic postures that they were guided through by the teacher. There was a willingness to try something new in the House of Lords, and if it can happen there then why can’t it happen across the whole country?”

Isha Samskriti at Sangeet Natak Akademi

Isha Foundation was also part of organizing the largest yoga demonstration in Geneva, which saw enthusiastic participation from over 650 people, including Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives, officials from various UN and other international organizations. Several yoga enthusiasts, members of the local community and Indians living in Geneva also attended the event.

Isha Samskriti students also gave a spectacular performance at the Sangeet Natak Academy, Delhi’s art and culture hub, which featured a unique blend of Kalaripayattu, Bharatanatyam and yoga. The students performed before guests of honor who included Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Geetha Chandran, acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer, and Odissi danseuse Sonal Mansingh.

The performance was the first of its kind put together by the Samskriti students. Some of them performed yogasanas as Sadhguru’s voice spoke in the background about aspects such as Hatha Yoga, Surya Kriya and asanas. Another set of students performed Kalaripayattu, while others performed an exuberant Bharatanatyam dance. People applauded the exhilarating performance several minutes after the performance had ended. At the end, Sonal Mansingh felicitated each of the children with a shawl.

Sadhguru also gave the valedictory address at the International Conference on Yoga for Holistic Health, held in New Delhi on June 21, and organized by the ministry of AYUSH at the Vigyan Bhavan. Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh was the Chief Guest for the conference.

On its own initiative, Isha Foundation also trained 35,600 teachers to offer simple Upa Yoga practices at 100,000 locations on six continents. The practices were also made widely available online, through websites, YouTube, social media and apps.