This article first appeared in our World Environment Day Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 05 June 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
As we continue to face mounting social and environmental crises, many crave a feeling of togetherness and the sense of being united as a group consciousness.
Yet modern, atomised lifestyles limit our opportunities to experience this sense of community and unity; if we want to experience pure love and something bigger than ourselves, we can turn to organised religion – or yoga.
The European Yoga Festival (05-13 August 2023) – Europe’s biggest yoga festival – is gearing up to unite approximately 3,000 people in the grounds of Château de Jambville, France.
Those attending will get the chance to experience a fully yogic lifestyle through diet, karma yoga and community.
The week involves for four days of kundalini yoga and workshops based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, plus three days of white tantric yoga.
‘In the early ’70s, Yogi Bhajan sent some yogis from America to spread the teachings in Europe’, explains Siri Sant Kaur, executive director of 3HO Europe. ‘The festival has grown from the intention to create a gathering for the growing communities of kundalini yoga practitioners in Europe.’
The festival is as old as its community; the first event – White Tantric Yoga – was held in 1974. It took place in Holland, in a garden that belonged to a member’s parents. There were 20 people.
Today the European Yoga Festival takes place in Jambville, an hour away from Paris, where it welcomes thousands of guests.
The festival’s success has been attributed to the unique way in which it combines white tantric with yoga, spirituality and lifestyle.
Yogi Bhajan‘s teachings are rooted in Sikhism and the notion of seva (selfless service and devotion), and the whole festival is run entirely by volunteers. The mammoth group effort is a reflection of the festival’s philosophy and purpose.
‘Participants experience the awareness and love of the group for a whole week, which supports them throughout the year’, Siri Sant tells us. ‘For a week you live as a yogi from 4am to 10pm. It creates a real shift for the body, mind and spirit.’
The festival presents an opportunity for transformation on all levels: physical cleansing through a yogic diet and practice, mental purification through sādhanā and meditation and spiritual upliftment through karma yoga and community.
Those attending are encouraged to minimise their mobile phone use and engage fully with the energy of the festival by prioritising human connection over an internet connection.
In return attendees can expect an outburst of love, new friendships and renewed energy for the whole year from a programme of concerts, roundtables, workshops, gong baths, deep meditation and much more.
There are kids’ camps with classes that help children discover the tools their parents use, and grow with a range of different skills.
‘The festival focuses on kundalini yoga, which is special because of the awareness it creates and the energy it gives you’, Siri Sant explains. ‘We need to feel understood, supported, united – loved in and out. We need our sovereignty. Yogi Bhajan said: ‘I don’t believe in miracles, I rely on them’. That’s what we experience at the European Yoga Festival.’