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United Nations Day of Yoga to be Celebrated in Borrego Springs


Last updated 6/8/2015 at 9:58am

Courtesy Photo

Paramahansa Yogananda initiated Mahatma Gandhi into the practice of Kriya Yoga in 1935. Here, he reads a message from Gandhi on a day of silence.

AWAKE – The Life of Yogananda is a popular documentary movie that has come to Borrego Springs and will be shown at the Performing Arts Center on Father's Day, June 21, to commemorate the United Nations (UN) International Day of Yoga.

June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014. Yoga, a 6,000+-year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice having its origin in India, aims to transform body and mind. The declaration came after the call for the adoption of 21 June as International Day of Yoga by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 wherein he stated:

"Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature..."

AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about an Indian Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. This feature documentary explores the life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, who authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has introduced millions of readers to the wisdom of the East. A go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad, and he arranged to give away 800 copies of it to the dignitaries who attended his memorial service. Autobiography of a Yogi has also been a point of entry into Eastern mysticism for George Harrison, Russell Simmons and countless yogis. By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and ultimately helping millions of seekers today to turn their attention inwards, bucking the temptations of the material world in pursuit of Self-realization.

Filmed over three years with the participation of thirty countries around the world, the film examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, East and West. While archival material from the life of Yogananda (who died in 1952) creates a spine for the narrative, the film stretches the dimensions of a standard biography, taking the viewer from holy pilgrimages in India to Harvard's Divinity School and MIT's cutting edge physics labs, from the Center for Science and Spirituality at the University of Pennsylvania to the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California.

By evoking the journey of the soul as it pushes its way through the oppression of the ego and delusion of the material world, the film creates an experiential immersion into the unseen realms. AWAKE is ultimately the story of mankind itself: the universal struggle of all beings to free themselves from suffering and to seek lasting happiness.

The film AWAKE will be shown at the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, Father's Day. The date also marks the Summer Solstice.

The entire community is invited to this FREE, historic event, and yoga practitioners are welcome to set-up free literature tables outside the venue to reveal to attendees yoga classes or other holistic practices available in Borrego. No items may be offered for sale.

What is Yoga? Various paths named and explained

Yoga means 'union' – of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit – and consists of a philosophy and system of techniques through which one can attain union with Spirit. Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception – no longer dependent upon the fallible senses, but capable of actually experiencing Truth.

Yoga is at the core of India's ancient religion, known as Sanatana Dharma (literally, Eternal Truth), which encompasses the entire body of Vedic teachings. The religion came to be called Hinduism when the Greeks, who invaded northwestern India under Alexander the Great, designated the people on the banks of the river Indus as 'Indoos,' or Hindus.

The ancient rishis of India, literally seers, were the authors of the Vedas, in which (in the Upanishads) the doctrinal basis of the Hindu religion is summarized. Today, Hindus still refer to Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma.

Among the most comprehensive ancient sources about Yoga is India's beloved scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, which takes the form of a sacred dialogue between Bhagavan Krishna (both an earthly king and divine incarnation) and his chief disciple, the Pandava prince Arjuna, and focuses on the universal battle between the soul and the ego, and the Yoga path to liberation.

The science of Yoga offers a direct means of stilling the natural turbulence of thoughts and restlessness of the body that prevent us from knowing what we really are. By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga – taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith – the yogi comes to know his or her oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of one's own Self.

In past centuries many of the higher techniques of Yoga were little understood or practiced, owing to mankind's limited knowledge of the forces that run the universe.

But today, scientific investigation is rapidly changing the way we view ourselves and the world. The traditional materialistic conception of life has vanished with the discovery that matter and energy are essentially one: every existing substance can be reduced to a pattern or form of energy, which interacts and interconnects with other forms. Thus modern science is confirming the ancient principles of Yoga, which proclaim that unity pervades the universe.


Hatha Yoga – emphasizing a system of physical postures, or asanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over its internal states and rendering it fit for meditation.

Karma Yoga – selfless service to others as part of one's larger Self, without attachment to the results; and the performance of all actions with the consciousness of God as the Doer.

Mantra Yoga – centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds that vibrationally convey particular aspects of Spirit.

Bhakti Yoga – all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.

Jnana Yoga – the path of wisdom, which emphasizes the application of discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.

Raja Yoga – the royal or highest path of Yoga, formally systematized in the second century B.C. by the Indian sage Patanjali, which combines the essence of all the other paths.

At the heart of the Raja Yoga system, balancing and unifying these various approaches, is Kriya Yoga, the yoga science which was taught by Bhagavan Krishna to his disciple Arjuna as recorded in the Bhagavad Gita centuries before the Christian era.

Kriya Yoga – consists of definite, scientific methods of meditation that deal directly with energy and consciousness, and enable one to perceive, from the very beginning of one's efforts, glimpses of the ultimate goal – conscious union with the inexhaustibly blissful Spirit. It is the particular system of meditation taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.

Specifically, the Kriya Yoga technique reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy in the body, enabling the normal activities of heart and lungs to slow down naturally. As a result, the consciousness is drawn to higher levels of perception, gradually bringing about an inner awakening more blissful and more deeply satisfying than any of the experiences that the mind or the senses or the ordinary human emotions can give.

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