Alliance to Promote Yoga in the City on IDY


Photos: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: About 400 Houstonians moved in harmony, stretching and breathing mindfully in a guided yoga session at Levy Park. The event was organized to mark the Third International Day of Yoga on June 21st by the Indian Consulate in Houston with the support of over 15 community organizations. Event coordinator and Swayamsevak Sharad Amin thanked the participants and observed that thunderstorm warnings and an overcast sky did not deter the yoga practitioners from attending the group practice.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett made a brief appearance to show his support for the day and noted that “yoga is not just about stretching but a key component in self-realization.”

Community leaders and volunteers with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (in center) and Deputy Consul General of Houston Surendra Aadhana (in center).

Community leaders and volunteers with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (in center) and Deputy Consul General of Houston Surendra Aadhana (in center).

Deputy Consul General of India in Houston, Surendra Aadhana highlighted the fact that “yoga is connecting the world with India.” He also announced an initiative by Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray for the formation of an alliance with yoga institutes and teachers to “bring their synergies and best practices together” with a view to promote yoga in a more organized and concerted manner. HSS volunteers with Anant Samdani kick started the efforts during the event.


Houston Yoga teachers

Houston Yoga teachers

After an opening prayer by Madhukar Adi, well known yoga teachers Vishwarupa Nanjundappa and Lindsay Law guided the group through several standing and sitting postures respectively. Robert Boustany, Houston’s leading yoga teacher and initiator of Pralay Yoga led the group through a guided meditation by encouraging them “to open themselves up to the moment, send out as much love as they could, let gratitude flow through them, and pour out a love for all beings because if we do this, we could change the world.” The meditation session unfortunately was cut short by about 10 minutes due to a sudden downpour but it didn’t discourage the participants from indulging in a lively exchange of powdered colors.


Speaking to a cross section of people at the gathering about how yoga helped them, views ranged from it being a “de-stresser and a centering experience” to helping them “make better decisions, focus and keep calm.” Swati Thakkar, a cancer survivor, explained how she was an occasional yoga practitioner but after being diagnosed with cancer became regular which helped her both mentally and physically.

Anwar Raza follows Baba Ramdev and underscored the fact that yoga “changed” his life. He added that unfortunately people are ascribing a communal slant to yoga but “yoga has no relation to religion.” President of IMAGH Munir Ibrahim had this to say: “the practice of Yoga helps in the grounding and shifting of the focus of understanding one’s self to live your life without judgement and to love others with peace and harmony.

Mark Ram, a veteran yoga teacher with the Brahma Kumaris explained how “Yoga enables an individual gain governing power over one’s own mind and physical senses” while Zachary Biegun a Yoga practitioner observed that “the most intimate relationship we have is between the mind and body and this relationship is the filter through which we experience everything. Yoga is the practice of undertaking to improve that relationship-thereby improving our whole selves and our whole lives.”

Suresh Patel, the first Indo American yoga teacher in Houston recounted how he taught yoga in 1975 to a class of 85 students while Gitesh Desai, a familiar face in Houston’s Indo American community and a certified yoga teacher concluded by explaining how it can help to “harmonize one’s energy within” and bring peace to a violence afflicted world.