Namaste was the word of the day Sunday morning in downtown Springfield where nearly 60 people participated in the city’s first International Yoga Day event.
Presented by the Hindu Community of Springfield and the Global Education and Peace Network, it was a free chance to learn basics of yoga, a union of mind, body and spirit, and guided meditation in one session outdoors at City Hall Plaza under sunny skies and mild temperatures.
“It connects us on multiple levels,” said Dr. Ravi Khanna, one of the event organizers who has practiced the discipline for several years, told the participants. “It’s much more than physical exercise, which you will find out today.”
International Yoga Day was declared by the United Nations in 2015 and practiced at places as diverse as Disneyworld.
Springfield City Commissioner David Estrop was one of the invited guests. His fitness comes from walking, biking and gardening, but didn’t shy from the challenge of yoga, even if he never thought he would practice it in the middle of downtown Springfield.
“I’m a total rookie,” he, admitted. “I got the invitation and I was curious and thought why not, it will be fun.”
Another invited guest was Ohio State Rep. Niraj Antani, the state’s sole Hindu legislator. He was pleased to see this part of the culture represented and celebrated here with the shared message that everyone is welcome.
Dr. Kayvon Nezhad walks regularly with Dr. Khanna and has some experience with yoga and wanted to support the event, bringing his mat.
“It’s like exercise as you’re doing it and it relaxes you and afterward you feel really good,” Nezhad said. “It’s as much about breathing as the posture.”
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The yoga session was led by Julie Valley, a local instructor, who put the participants through several moves for an hour. Even several young children, members of the Hindu community, participated and handed out stickers with the Namaste slogan.
Following the yoga, Shubhra Goel presented the principles of guided meditation, talking about how people have 40,000-50,000 thoughts a day and how this practice can guide to more positive thoughts through the SOS method of Stop Observe Steer.
Estrop said he enjoyed the day’s experiences enough that he may pursue more yoga in the future.
“I feel great, relaxed, comfortable and at ease,” he said, smiling.
Khanna was pleased with the morning and eager to celebrate future International Day of Yoga events in Springfield.
“With the help of the city, we hope we will do this again,” he said.