IDY 2022: “Yoga for Humanity” Attracts Yoga Enthusiasts throughout Greater Houston

HOUSTON: Since its inception in 2015 by the United Nations, the International Day of Yoga (IDY) has expanded from India by leaps and bounds across all regions and ethnicities throughout the globe, and even in outer space on the International Space Station.

For IDY 2022, yoga enthusiasts throughout the Greater Houston Metroplex joined the world in celebrating the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga under the theme ‘Yoga for Humanity’. Observing Covid-19 protocols, yoga practitioners and novices assembled to perform yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation in more than a dozen officially sanctioned locations from The Woodlands to Pearland, including for the second time, in downtown Houston at Discovery Green Park. The Consulate General of India supported the celebration under the auspices of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (Celebration of 75 years of India’s Independence from British rule).

Sharad Amin explained the organization behind the IDY 2022 events in the Greater Houston area. “We had 12 events during International Day of Yoga Celebrations this year. Events started from June 15 and continued until June 26th. We had a core committee of nine members along with representatives from CGI Houston to support all events,” explained Amin. “This year, we added events in Pearland, Sewa International at George Bush Park, Meenakshi Temple Society, and JVB Preksha Meditation. We also had a special session of Chair Yoga at GSH Event center. Events which continued from previous years included yoga sessions at India House, Hindu Temple of the Woodlands, Arya Samaj of Greater Houston, Patanjali Yogpeeth, Brahma Kumaris, and the grand event on June 21st at Discovery Green Park.”

Yoga and Ayurveda Webinar

IDY 2022 celebrations started in the Houston area on the evening of June 15 with a webinar hosted by the Indian Consulate on “Yoga and Ayurveda for the Well Being of Body and Mind” by Dr. David Frawley. “Yoga is a gift to us from our ancient traditions,” Consul General Aseem R. Mahajan said in his introduction to the webinar. “Yoga symbolizes the union of body and mind, thought and action, and harmony between man and nature.”

 Woodlands Temple

On Saturday June 18, IDY 2022 celebrations were held at the Hindu Temple of the Woodlands (HTW). The program started with a Sound Bath meditation by Soumil Manek at 7:30 am in the serene setting of temple grounds. This auspicious introduction was followed by warmups led by yoga teacher Raju Veludandi and Surya Namaskars by yoga teacher Rajeev Limaye. IDY protocol was guided by Yoga teachers Rohini & Nita. Pranayama practice was guided by IDY coordinator and Yoga Therapist, Dr Neeta Hiray. Guided meditation practice was then performed by HTW president, Suveena Guglani. The yoga practice concluded with a Laughter Yoga session lead by Dr. Hiray. A free, healthy breakfast prepared by temple kitchen volunteers was provided to all the participants.

Yoga participants at the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands.

Sewa International USA

A large gathering of Yoga enthusiasts participated in a Yoga session followed by a 5K walk/run on June 18 at 7:30 am George Bush Park.

IDY Pearland

In the evening at 6:00 pm, Greater Businesses of Pearland joined Sewa International in a Yoga session. “This was the first time we had IDY celebrations in Pearland on this scale,” explained Achalesh Amar, IDY Pearland Event Chair. “The great enthusiastic support from the community will encourage us to build on this great start. The diversity and inclusion was in abundant display, and we hope that in coming years we will be able to attract and involve more yoga practitioners in this wellness initiative.”

IDY participants leading the Yoga session in Pearland.

Patanjali Yogpeeth USA

At Arya Samaj of Greater Houston, Patanjali Yogpeeth USA led a session on Yoga for Weight Management on June 18 at 8:00 am. Patanjali Yogpeeth held a session on Yoga for Complete Wellness on the following day at 8 am. “Yoga is the journey of the self, to self, through self,” said Patanjali Yogpeeth President Shekhar Agarwal.

Art of Living Foundation

In Sugar Land, the Art of Living Foundation held a Yoga session on June 18 at 10 am. The session included warmup exercises, asanas, breathing practices, and meditation.

Gujarati Samaj of Houston & Swasth Yoga

On June 19, Meena Kankani, owner of Swasth Yoga, in collaboration with GSH Event Center, celebrated IDY 2022 with a Chair Yoga session for Seniors. This program consisted of performing various yoga poses while seated on a chair. The session started with a prayer, warmups, yoga postures, pranayama, and relaxation, and was followed by a small game played while sitting in a chair.

One of the participants had lost his vision several years ago, but enthusiastically participated and did most of the yoga by listening to the instructions. Another participant was a retired doctor and mentioned that she felt very relaxed after the session. Swasth Yoga has been offering free chair yoga in the community for seniors 65+ on a virtual platform every Saturday for the last two years.

Meena Kankani leading chair yoga at GSH.

Brahma Kumaris

Brahma Kumaris presented “An hour of Peace through Meditation” on June 19 at 1:00 pm. Consul Sudhir from the Consulate General of India made opening remarks and participated in the program. Saumil Manek played singing bowls for soothing background to meditation commentary. Hansa Raval, M.D., Director of Brahma Kumaris Texas, shared the importance of meditation for a healthy mind and body. More than 120 yogis from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds attended the event.

India House

India House, supported by Consul General of India, various other nonprofit organizations and Yoga Studios of Houston, hosted an impressive event at India House on Monday, June 2022. Parai Music students and Yogis entertained the attendees with their performances. Common Yoga Protocols were practiced by Shekhar Agrawal, Anitha Vasisht, Nancy Martch, Mike Thacker, Saumil Manek, Mark Ram, Robert Boustany, and Akshata Malusare. Every participant was given a yoga shirt, sponsored by Durga Agrawal, before the event started, and treated with light refreshments after the program ended.

Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusadhana Samsthana (SVYASA) organized a free event, ‘Yoga for Stress Management’ on Sunday, June 20 morning. The program was conducted by Vyasa Houston volunteers Jayachandran and Anitha Vasisht. The participants enjoyed the mindful relaxation techniques that were taught along with some practices from the IDY protocol. SVYASA has been participating in IDY since 2015. They’ve sent their teachers, Jay Chandran and Anita, to various organizations to promote Yoga.

Yoga participants at India House.

‘Union is Creation’ at Discovery Green

More than 25 organizations supported the event and representatives from 15 organizations were present at the Discovery Green event on June 21 at 6:30 pm. The whole program was organized by ‘Union is Creation’ and partner yoga studios and yogis. Local Indian dance schools performed cultural dances, and some difficult yoga postures were presented by yoga experts. Several food stalls provided various snacks and meals. Free T-shirts were distributed with courtesy of Hindus of Greater Houston, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, and CGI Houston office. There were more than 700 participants, where 70% of the Yoga followers were of non-Indian origin.

Saumil Manek has been teaching Yoga at Discovery Green for the past five years every Tuesday.  “I am so grateful and honored to have hosted a successful event with my beloved yogis,” said Manek. “This event would not have been successful without everyone’s effort and commitment. Thank you to all the 20 teachers and sound healers who made this day possible.  Leading with your heart and trusting your journey is the best way to live in peace and harmony.”

IDY 2022 session at Discovery Green attracted more than 700 participants.

“I saw hundreds of yogis merging in themselves as they were doing the Asanas, Pranayama and Dhyan at the Discovery Green Park,” said Patanjali Yogpeeth President Shekhar Agarwal. “With the help of some needed rain before the evening program, it became the perfect venue to do Yoga. Everybody had a great time.”

If you wish to participate in the organization of IDY 2023, please contact Sharad Amin at 713-854-0633.