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An Early Morning Surya Namaskar, Rain Showers Not Withstanding!

The entrance to Towne Green Park in The Woodlands was the site of the International Yoga Day event this past Saturday, June 24

The entrance to Towne Green Park in The Woodlands was the site of the International Yoga Day event this past Saturday, June 24

By Priya Subramanian & Jawahar Malhotra

THE WOODLANDS: Three days after the Summer Solstice – Wednesday, June 21 – and the day declared in 2015 by the United Nations as the International Day of Yoga – the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands, in partnership with the Houston Consulate General of India, observed the event with yoga asanas (poses) for the early-morning risers of the Greater Houston area. This was the second IDY event this year, the first being on Wednesday itself in Levy Park in Houston (see page 05), which was cut short due to rain showers.

Some of the volunteers from the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands who helped to put the event together

Some of the volunteers from the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands who helped to put the event together

Most of the estimated 450 people who arrived at 7 in the morning on a cool Saturday, June 24 braved the clouds and the brief but heavy rainfall just before the event started. They came with their rubber yoga rolls and spread them out in rows on the slight incline of Town Greene Park, in the shadow of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, not letting the damp grass get in the way of their mental and physical exercises. By 8 am, the yoga mats covered half of the grassy lawn as the leotard and t-shirt clad yoga practitioners followed the calming, sonorous voice from the stage urging them to find the quiet space in their minds and focus on their asanas.

More volunteers and HTW members at the IDY booth

More volunteers and HTW members at the IDY booth

Encouraged by the response to this event over the past two years, the HTW went all out to bring the IDY 2017 event to The Woodlands community to share yoga’s promise of health and wellness and coordinated with yoga studios across Greater Houston. There were several booths from area businesses lining both sides of the park, which had a short, elevated stage at the colonnaded and bricked entrance.

The yoga instructors gave direction on the asanas to the 450 people who came to the event

The yoga instructors gave direction on the asanas to the 450 people who came to the event

The program opened with prayers and meditation by the Brahmakumaris, a worldwide spiritual movement, and The Art of Living Foundation of The Woodlands. Short yoga demonstrations followed – sun salutations, relaxation and pranayama – taught by several area yoga instructors, including some from HTW. Participants, ranging from small children to octogenarians, followed guided meditation and asnayas with rapt attention, and were transported into tranquility in the serene setting of Town Greene Park. 

“Something about this venue and doing the yoga in unison really stirred us, and we would love to come back to this event again,” said Rainer and Aymara Lilienthal, of Spring, who enjoyed every aspect of the event, but most of all, were impressed with how it brought people together to learn about the body and mind wellness. Lauren Thompson, a purchasing agent from downtown Houston, drove in early that morning along with friends. “I am really a very casual learner of yoga, but I attended the IDY event at Levy Park in Houston, earlier this week and loved it! When I heard about the event in The Woodlands, I knew I wanted to experience the joy of this form and sense of community again, and made it a point to come today,” she said. 

Though sandwiched between the rains just a few minutes before and heavy downpour right afterwards, the event was actually a festival and wholesome family outing with live music, chanting, yoga studio booths and sale of yoga books as well as stalls of local vendors of organic groceries, health foods and hand-made jewelry. Several medical and charity organizations from the area held free medical check-ups and information sessions.

A free Indian breakfast of biryani and vegetables was provided by the Hyderabad Biryani Place of The Woodlands. The local H-E-B, across the street from the park, generously donated water and bananas to everyone. 

The event was coordinated by Dr. Neeta Shukla and brought together by the tireless efforts of countless adult and youth volunteers of the HTW, some of whom were at the venue at 4 am to set-up and the rains did not dampen their spirit. They meticulously planned the safety, security, parking, audio, photography and overall logistics over several weeks.

The HTW youth club even set up drones to project a live video feed of the event. Encouraged by the response, the HTW intends to bring more programs of this nature to The Woodlands and make the IDY an annual event.

The Education, Youth and Services (EYS) wing of the HTW offers free yoga classes several times a week at the Temple located on 7601 South Forest Gate Drive, Spring, Texas 77382.

These are conducted by volunteer instructors certified by VYASA Houston (a satellite of the original VYASA Yoga Center in Bangalore, India). Many EYS yoga teachers are involved in community outreach programs for wellness and diabetes prevention throughout Houston, as well as in research projects with MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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One Response to An Early Morning Surya Namaskar, Rain Showers Not Withstanding!

  1. Rashmi gupta July 1, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Excellent write up ! Thanks Jay Malhotra for covering this event!!

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