With the most yoga studios per capita in North America, Edmonton has a diverse and bountiful yoga community. Now that summer is in full swing, various groups are holding invigorating outdoor yoga classes all around Edmonton, namely in the river valley.
The University of Alberta’s own Indira Saroya is a part of the handful of devoted and genuine yogis to take on the task of organizing a yoga festival, and she couldn’t be more excited.
It was early December when Saroya read the United Nations had declared “International Day of Yoga” to be held on June 21. She was on a train in India at the time, and knew that this was her chance.
“It has been my long cherished dream to celebrate yoga in nature, for the true spirit of yoga, and that dream is coming true with the Alberta Yoga Mela,” she said.
Saroya teamed up with the Yoga Association of Alberta (YAA), a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for the public to develop within the realm of yoga, to create the first annual Alberta Yoga Mela. The festival is to be held in Hawrelak Park on June 20, and encourages new and experienced yogis to come take part.
In the true spirit of yoga as Saroya says, she wants this to be a fully inclusive event “regardless of age, health, and fitness differences.”
In Western Society yoga is largely considered to be purely a form of exercise, but as more studios begin to offer meditation classes and workshops on the philosophy surrounding yoga, practitioners are seeing how holistic the practice of yoga truly is.
“Yoga is a deep philosophy, a sound psychology, an art of living,” Saroya said “Yoga is not merely a physical exercise, it is the union of the body, mind, spirit, and a union with nature.”
For many, including Saroya, yoga is a gift. With the help of Karen Hamdem (Vice-President of the YAA) and Debbie Spence (Executive Director of the YAA), Saroya was able to unite a group of yogis who will all be teaching at the Mela in hopes of sharing this gift.
“It is surprising how in the last 3 months, how I got connected with so many beautiful who specialize in the different styles of yoga,” she said.
Fran Wildman, Manisha Metha, and Sahlini Grewal—to name a few—are some of the teachers to be expected, all offering different expertise in different types of yoga. Laughter yoga, and Hatha yoga are just a few examples.
When India’s Ambassador, Asoke Mukerhi, first introduced the “International Day of Yoga” it had 175 nations agree to join, the highest number ever for any general assembly, according to Times Now. The high number of approval from the UN serves as a testament to yoga’s “spirit of oneness,” as Saroya says. Yoga’s true spirit of oneness will be evident when Edmonton’s eager yogis come together on June 20.