In Rishikesh, the Hollywood of yoga and spirituality, thousands of students, teachers, gurus, sages, and yogacharyas from over 70 countries around the world congregate each year for the world famous International Yoga Festival.
Bracing myself for the week of full on activity that went from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day, I expected to get myself whipped back into shape with my physical practice. What I received was far deeper than any sweaty yoga class, as I found myself in the graceful presence of enlightened beings, innovators, and experts in their field.
As an eager student, seeker and writer, I made sure to always have my journal by my side. Each class, lecture and satsung (spiritual Q&A) filled my heart and gave my mind much to think about. I couldn’t wait to share with those who weren’t here in India, so I made a list of the best quotes I heard from a whirlwind of a week.
“Yoga is not to burn calories, it’s to burn the craziness out there.” ~ H.S. Arun
“Even the moon has spots but they do not interfere with its light.” ~ Mooji
“Developing a relationship with the unseen, that’s spirituality.” ~ Tommy Rosen
“Energy flows where attention goes.” ~ Saul David Raye
“The two most important things are as follows:
1) Remember god
2) Be kind to others
They work together.” ~ Sharon Gannon
“While you have time, discover the timeless.” ~ Mooji
“When the mind becomes silent, the being becomes shining. You then notice yourself again, as a fragment of the sun.” ~ Sri Prem Baba
“It’s not that you become something, but that you stop becoming what you’re not, when you discover that you are what is, already.” ~ Mooji
“You can live without your mind, but your mind cannot live without you.” ~ Mooji
“Everything is empty. It’s our attitudes towards situations that make them whole.” ~ Sharon Gannon
“Yoga is the study of consciousness. How can you control the mind if you can’t learn to control the body?” ~ H.S. Arun
“If we can’t see God in everyone, we can’t see God at all.” ~ Saul David Raye
“The greatest service you can do for this world is to be yourself. When you are established in that place, your life becomes like oxygen even if no one recognizes you. Your life will be used and expressed in its most harmonious way.” ~ Mooji
“I cannot do it for you and you cannot do it for me, but we can help each other every step of the way.” ~ Tommy Rosen
“Spirituality means to detach from the thoughts.” ~ Sri Prem Baba
“You need to be a little bit crazy, to be free.” ~ Mooji
“To want freedom and happiness for others in the 21st century is radical. Most people are only worried about themselves, their family and their friends. But to care about happiness and freedom for those you don’t know, that’s courage. And that’s exactly what’s demanded from an aspiring yogi.” ~ Sharon Gannon
“There’s a saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But continuous smiling keeps the doctor away, continuously.” ~ Ven Bhikku Sanghasena
“It’s not what you do but where you stay that matters. Remember that. When you remain here, everything is touched by that stillness.” ~ Mooji
“You see what a blessing this cancer is. People are really listening to me. I can help them more in this situation than any situation. I’m not here just to live more in numbers.” ~ Radhanath Swami (quoting his late best friend)
“The amazing news is that there’s nothing you can be facing in the world that you can’t get through.” ~ Tommy Rosen
“We must grow up, not grow old.” ~ Mooji
Reflecting on these awe-inspiring pieces of knowledge from the International Yoga Festival, I’m reminded of how truly robust the path of yoga is at its core. Sometimes, we can get so bogged down in our physical yoga practice, ironically benchmarking ourselves against others. We must realize, however, that progress is an ambiguous term when it comes to a multifaceted practice like yoga. When it comes to real progress, I can’t see yours and you can’t see mine.
Yoga literally means union, an integration of the mind, body and soul.
The asanas (poses) are one tiny sliver of the pie that yoga has to offer. If we limit ourselves to that, we’re missing out on an opportunity to connect and inspire through embracing a more radiant life. The process of remembering these quotes and what they represent will be different for all of us. Personally, I repeat versions of them to myself throughout my asana practice and meditation. I try my hardest to translate my yoga into my every day routine, aware that this is the true purpose of it all.
Through yoga, we cultivate awareness and begin to access a certain universality of being. Let’s never forget the boundless nature of yoga, honoring the ability of our bodies and minds but not confining ourselves to them only.
Author: Shoshanna Delventhal
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own