More than 500 people attended the First International Day of Yoga (IDY) celebration cosponsored by the fifth Eye on India Festival (EIF) and City of Chicago at the landmark downtown Daley Center, June 22. Consul General of India Ausaf Sayeed addressed the gathering and EIF President Anuradha Behari read out the congratulatory message of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Chicago Park Districts had cosponsored yoga demonstrations at several locations citywide on IDY June 21.
The panel discussion comprising Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder and CEO of Cure Violence (formerly Cease Fire) and recipient of the Order of Lincoln Award, Molly Rudberg, author “From the Yoga Mat to the Corner Office: A Mindful Approach to Business,” and Lawrence Brown, Director of Economic Empowerment for YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, was moderated by Shruthi Reddy of Reddy Set Yoga! Who had helped plan EIF’s June 21 programming.
They clarified how their personal practice ties in with their professional lives. Slutkin was more interested in using yogic concepts to effectuate behavioral changes within those predisposed to violence. Rudberg spoke of being in the moment to deepen self-understanding and ultimately flushing out the individual narrative of the corporation and the individual. Brown dwelt on how his practice of mindfulness is empowering and promotes peace.
At Sunrise Yoga starting 5:30 a.m. at the beautiful 63rd Beach on Chicago’s South Side, practitioners demonstrated postures (asana) and shared personal stories of what inspired them to do take up this discipline. Marshawn Feltus, from ACT Yoga, spoke of his incarceration and how his first yoga lesson helped him regain balance. He wanted to give back its benefits to Chicago’s underprivileged and violent neighborhoods. Tameka Lawson works with youth, especially young girls, to use yoga as a tool to create self-awareness, respect and mindfulness within the community.
The afternoon panel discussion “Health Benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda,” moderated by Reddy, comprised Monica Yearwood, owner of Hamsa Ayurveda, author of “Wind Through Quiet Tensions” Adam Grossi, and Dr. Trupti Gokani, owner of Zira Mind & Body, author of “The Mysterious Mind.” Family Yoga with Reddy Set Yoga was followed by “Mindful Meditation” with Priti Patel of Life-XT and yoga with Alexia Bauer.
Rhythm Revolution Drum Circle’s “Make Music Chicago!” sitar recital by Indrajit Banerjee accompanied by Dhananjay Kunte on tabla, Bhakti Caravan kirtan music and Kaiju Daiko (Japanese Taiko drumming) served as intervals.
The afternoon yoga culminated with Sunset Yoga at Mozart Park on the North Side, where more than 200 people participated in sync with the worldwide Make Music celebrations
In addition to the leading South Asian print and media, mainstream Chicago media outlets also covered the events, including WGN TV, ABC – Channel 7, NBC Channel 5, the Chicago Public Radio and the Chicago Sun Times.