The 2011 Himalayan Yoga Meditation Congress, a three-week series of events addresses how to create joy in one’s life through the art and science of Yoga, will take place July 18 through August 10 throughout the Twin Cities, led by global spiritual leader Swami Veda Bharati and sponsored by The Meditation Center based in Northeast Minneapolis. The Congress will explore spiritual responses to the aspects of life that block our natural experience of joy as informed by the 5,000-year-old Himalayan Yoga tradition.

The following is a brief schedule of events. Visit www.TheMeditationCenter.org for more details.

  • July 18-21 and July 25-28: “Evening Lecture Series” – A Series of lectures by acclaimed international Yoga Meditation Teachers from the Himalayan Yoga Tradition at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.
  • July 20: “U of M Lecture” by Swami Veda Bharati, co-sponsored by University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing from 4:40-6:30 p.m. in Mayo Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. This event is free to the public.
  • July 28-31: “Creating Joy: The Art and Science of Yoga” – Lectures and practicums led by Swami Ma Radha, Swami Nityamuktananda, Swami Ma Sewa, Swami Ma Gita and Dr. Stephan Parker at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. The cost is $15 for the lecture, $20 for practicum and $55 for the full-day event (including lunch).
  • July 29: “Kirtan Concert!” with Drs. Pooja Goswami Pavan and A. Pavan at 7:30 p.m. at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. The cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
  • July 30: “Peace on Earth Meditation” – Lecture and guided meditation with Swami Veda Bharati, preceded by kirtan with Melissa Fossum, at 6:30-8:30 p.m. at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. Donations accepted to help cover rental of the hall.
  • July 31 – August 10: Five- and 10-day guided Silence Retreats led by Swami Ritavan Bharati, Swami Ma Radha and Swami Ma Sewa at Dunrovin Retreat Center, Marine St. Croix, MN.

The following are the principal speakers at the 2011 Himalayan Yoga Meditation Congress:

  • Sri Mahamandaleshwar Swami Veda Bharati is the founder and spiritual director of: The Meditation Center in Minneapolis; the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International (AHYMSIN); and the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, India. He is also the spiritual guide of Sadhana Mandir Ashram in Rishikesh, India, and of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust near Dehradun, India. Since the age of 9 he has captivated audiences with the depth of his knowledge of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Vedas, the most ancient of Sanskrit literature. He has both a masters and a doctoral degree and taught Sanskrit at the University of Minnesota before embarking on his lifelong path of international teaching in the Himalayan Yoga tradition. In 1999, the Shankara Order of Swamis in India conferred on Swami Veda the title of Mahamandeleshvara; he is one of 30 or so Indian swamis holding this honor. Swami Veda is an inspired and loving teacher, a prolific author, poet and an international lecturer. Deeply interested in environmental challenges, he has spoken before the United Nations and met with the world’s major religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama.
  • Swami Ma Gita Bharati was born and raised in Minnesota. She has practiced yoga since the late 1970s. She was made a Swami of the Bharati order in 1999 in Rishikesh, India, by Swami Veda Bharati. She has been a psychotherapist for many years and offers spiritual guidance to many.
  • Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati, (Dr. Christa-Maria Herrmann), German by birth and naturalized British, became a Yogic monk in 2003 from Swami Anubhavananda and confirmed her vows in the traditional Vedic ceremony with Swami Veda Bharati in the Himalayan Tradition in 2007. In 1997 she completed a Ph.D. in ecophilosophy on the subjects of the mahabhutas (five great elements) and has since contributed worldwide in conferences and workshops. Presently, she teaches mainly on topics related to Yoga philosophy (including meditation) and the five elements in many countries. She has taught for many years at the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Research Institute (Lonavla, India) as well as at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (Rishekesh, India).
  • Swami Ma Radha Bharati earned an M.A. in philosophy and commenced doctoral studies in Eastern and Western philosophy with emphasis on views of the self and mind. She has taught philosophy at a number of schools. She received a fellowship from the Humphrey Institute in Public Policy. Ma Radha was initiated by H.H. Sri Swami Rama 33 years ago and has been an active member of The Meditation Center community ever since.
  • Swami Ritavan Bharati is a highly trained Yoga and meditation teacher with over 25 years of teaching and meditation experience. He holds a master’s degree in management specializing in non-profit organizations, a master’s degree in education and a master’s in holistic philosophy. He has led silence retreats throughout the world on behalf of Swami Veda and travels extensively across the globe. He is a registered Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.
  • Stephen (Stoma) Parker Psy.D., E-RYT 500, was initiated in the Himalayan Yoga tradition by Swami Veda Bharati and was given the initiate name Stoma in 1971. Among the first teachers certified by the Himalayan International Teachers’ Association, he began teaching hatha yoga in 1974. Stoma is an experienced, registered Yoga Teacher at the 500-hour level of the Yoga Alliance. A member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, he serves on the faculties of the Meditation Center in Minneapolis and the Sadhanamandir and Sadhaka Gram ashrams in Rishikesh, India. He is also a senior faculty member of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition Teachers’ Training Program. He has lectured on yoga, meditation and spiritual practice around the world. In 2004 he helped originate and teach the first course on yoga in an American medical school at the University of Minnesota Academic Medical Center. Stoma has been a licensed psychologist in private practice in St. Paul since 1985. He also serves as Adjunct Assistant School Professor of Counseling and Psychological Services at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
  • A. Pavan, Ph.D., is a regular figure in the Twin Cities’ music scene as an accomplished tabla player and teacher. Dr. Pavan has studied tabla under several masters, including Sri G. Laxmiah, Sri Ambika Prasad Mishra, Sri Gopal Mishra, Pandit Vijay Shankar and Pandit Birju Maharaj. Presently he trains with Sri Rajendra Nakod in Bangalore and Ustad Shabbir Nisar in Hyderabad. Over the years he has performed for Katha Dance Theater, Abhinaya Theater, Minnesota Dance Alliance, Pangea World Theater and the Indian Music Society of Minnesota. Dr. Pavan also appears on recordings of world/fusion music with Minnesota-based artists. A principal research scientist at Honeywell Labs, Dr. Pavan is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, where he received his Ph.D. in computer science. Dr. Pavan was on the executive committee of the Indian Music Society of Minnesota for several years and served as president from 1997 until 2001. He presently serves as an advisor.
  • Pooja Goswami, Ph.D., was born in a musical family and received her early training in Hindustani (North Indian) vocal classical music from her father, Sri Surendra Goswami. She received her graduate degrees from the University of Delhi. She is trained in semi-classical music from the eminent vocalist Smt. Shanti Hiranand, the reigning queen of Thumri and Ghazal (semi-classical vocal genres) and the universally acclaimed successor of the legendary vocalist, the late Begum Akhtar. Dr. Goswami has performed in prestigious venues across the globe. She recently co-composed the score for Pangea World Theater’s “The Partition Project,” staged in June 2006 in Minneapolis. Since 2006, Dr. Goswami has been a visiting faculty at the School of Music, University of Minnesota and at Macalester College, teaching courses in Indian music and culture.

The Meditation Center was established in 1971 by Swami Veda Bharati. It currently serves as a resource of the Himalayan Yoga tradition, which was established in the West by Swami Rama of the Himalayas. The ancient methods taught in this tradition underlie the variety of meditation systems found in all faiths. This approach not only includes the physical postures and stretches that people often refer to as yoga, but also includes efficient breathing, control of the senses, enhanced concentration, the cultivation of personally healthy habits and social relationship, and training in higher stages of meditation.

For further information about the coming events, visit www.TheMeditationCenter.org.

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