Houston’s First Inaugural International Day of Yoga: A Successful Invocation Toward Oneness

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From left: Shriram Sarvotham, Beth Reese, Dr. Harish Chandra, Alejandro Chaoul, Consul General of India Harish Parvathaneni, Daksha Shah, Charles McInerney, Billie Gollnick, Robert Boustany, Jennifer Buergermeister,
Kay Westcott, and Shekhar Agrawal (honoree).
Photos: Bijay Dixit.

By Jennifer Buergermeister

HOUSTON: The Consulate General of India in Houston is in partnership with Patanjali Yogpeeth (USA) and supporting organizations which contribute by helping in organizing this huge undertaking at  the George R. Brown convention center.

The Consul General (CG) of India Harish Parvathaneni and Congressman Al Green spoke on Sunday with great enthusiasm about the future of human wellness to a crowded room of over 3,000 people. All gathered in honor of the very first International Day of Yoga recognizing yoga as a practice toward peace and harmony.

An opening ceremony beautifully honored India, The United States and 12 community leaders who have demonstrated extraordinary service to communities in the promotion of yoga: Robert Boustany, Jennifer Buergermeister, Dr. Harish Chandra, Alejandro Chaoul, Lorenzo Cohen, Billie Gollnick, Ann Klein, Charles McInerney, Beth Reese, Shriram Sarvotham, Daksha Shah, and Kay Westcott.

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The honoring ceremony was followed by a morning yoga session with Shriram Sarvotham who began with an invocation followed by a few light exercises. Billie Gollnick at age 87 with her favorite student Robert Boustany conducted the Yoga Asanas (postures) session.
Shekhar Agrawal followed with Pranayama (breathing exercises), and the morning sessions ended with a meditation led by Dr. Harish Chandra.

The afternoon began with an amazing 30-minute yoga demonstration by “The Masters” – Robert Boustany, Catherine Allen, Ann Hyde and Kabir Samlal – whose beautiful practices thrilled the whole audience with awe.

After the lunch break, 30 children from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh demonstrated yoga. Beth Reese and her group led Yoginos: Yoga for Youth and energized the crowd with a spectacular and fun-filled class for kids and families.

The children program was followed with a workshop on the therapeutics of yoga, a session moderated by Robert Boustany and three panelists – Charles Maclnerney, Sat Siri Sumler, and Smitha Mallaiah. Attendees were able to ask many open-ended questions and discuss considerations in a therapeutic yoga practice.

A beautiful performance called “Upa Yoga” was presented later in the afternoon by Ravi Bommu and Vasanth Balasubramani of ISHA Yoga. The performance attracted a large afternoon crowd. Afterwards, the attendees fully appreciated the Yog Nidra session led by Robert Boustany to relax and restore. A Patanjali Yoga Meditation with Dr. Harish Chandra then finalized the day and left the crowd fully rejuvenated.

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“It was a unique experience to organize the first International Day of Yoga celebrations in Houston on 21 June. Houston is not only a diverse, inclusive and welcoming city but also has a rich “Yoga ecosystem” spanning different schools, practices and lineages. The fact that Houston is the only city where all branches of the ‘Yoga tree’ got together to celebrate is testimony to the overall message of Yoga of unity and harmony – between East and West, man and nature, mind and body, thought and action,” said CG Parvathaneni, “This is the first year of such an annual get together and celebration, and I am confident that with the dedication and contribution of so many aspirants, practitioners and gurus of yoga, the International Day of Yoga will find its rightful place in Houston’s calendar.”

Houston has become a mecca for yogic practices and the overall vision for humanity. The event was congratulated and supported by state officials and diplomats, and also by the Chancellor and President of the University of Houston Renu Khator.

Khator said, “I do yoga every day.” She has been a long time advocate of yoga since her youth living in India. She practiced yoga up front on the second row near the Consul General of India and his lovely wife.

Organizer and Honoree Shekhar Agrawal said, “It was a proud moment in Houston as East met the West and thousands of Houstonians came together under one roof for a united purpose of harmony and peace by doing yoga. We joined together yesterday in a real sense…just as it should be.”

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The world is seemingly ready for an integration of mind/body/planet health like never before. We have reached a new age where wellness is recognized as more than just exercise and diet. Health is a complete system that combines the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and planetary components of being. We have reached the tipping point where our conscious actions are crucial, and every aspect influences a world of concerns from climate and environmental contamination to human faction and war. It’s time to remember oneness for all.

“Yoga is a great Indian gift to the world,” said Latafath Husain, president of the Association of Indian Muslims in Greater Houston and one of the sponsors of the event. He said, “We wanted to help spread the word and show the world how proud we are of our heritage.”
If we adopt yoga in our daily life, the world will be filled with harmony and peace. This is an invitation from the International Day of Yoga to join us again each year and help us beat our record of 3600 registrants.

“It is an honor to be a volunteer at the ‘International Yoga Day’ – because we feel that we made an effective contribution to serve humanity and promote peace on earth, said volunteer Bhagwan Bhutada.

Darshak Thacker of Krishna Sounds provided live surround sound and stage lights at the International Yoga day celebration, it is always a big challenge to cover all areas of the GRB for non-music events but KS set speakers at all pole locations to make sure sound reached all areas without making it too loud, also provided very bright stage lights using new LED lights so that people on stage wouldn’t feel blind but the audience could see the stage very clear. Mona Thacker took care of all back ground music