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‘I’m blessed to know India’

Travelling to India is a yoga dream for many. It’s an incredible opportunity to experience yoga’s roots and to go deeper into the practice. Here, we chat to Erika about her experiences in India and India’s lead in creating an International Yoga Day – set to be celebrated all over the world this Sunday, 21 June.

Thank you for talking to us Erika … I wonder if you can tell us what first drew you to India?

I first visited India in 2011 with Valentina. I was looking to further my yoga practice and do a teacher training course and felt like India would be the best place as it is the home and birthplace of yoga.

It was such an incredible trip and the start of my spiritual journey. I returned last year in 2014 to further this path and am planning my third visit very soon!

What is it about your first visit that was so life changing?

india-templeI had never been to a temple before and didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I walked through the door, it was an incredible experience.

As I took my first step inside, I began to feel strange. There was a big hall full of people … as I walked inside, curtains to three rooms housing different deities opened and everyone began praying and chanting – like a spiritual party! It was awe inspiring …I felt my heart lift and I began to cry with joy!

This was the beginning of my journey… My heart began to open and I felt like I was receiving love from everywhere. It was life changing.

Why is yoga in India so special?

yoga-in-india-streetscenePeople in India believe so much in karma. Many people live in such challenging circumstances, but they are all happy as they have God and a higher power in their hearts!

You really feel spiritual energy everywhere you go … People are dancing, chanting and singing! There is another level of happiness, thanks to yoga.

It is a very humbling experience and makes you incredibly grateful for everything you have. Being in India made be feel like I was ‘home’. I have never felt this before, but you experience a special energy and know that you don’t need possessions or many things because life is very simple and good.

In India, yoga is so special because all aspects of the practice are deeply connected to a higher power and this makes you realise the importance of giving back through seva (a Sanskrit word meaning ‘selfless service’ or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment).

21 June will be the very first International Yoga Day, India has taken the lead amongst the 192 countries participating. What do you think of International Yoga Day and what it could mean for yoga?

downward-dog-in-indiaInternational Yoga Day is very important to celebrate the power of yoga, but for me, especially to remember where it all began.

Yoga is not something we should just do in a gym…

Especially in Europe we need to know its history and roots because yoga is ‘life’ and our connection to the universe

In India, people make huge sacrifices for yoga. I remember one man who had stood in the same posture for 12 years!

I know we live in a different culture and we don’t necessarily want to do that, but it is important to me to understand the roots of yoga and where it came from.

There is a consciousness to yoga and to be aware of its history can help us to be present and learn important lessons about life.

I love many modern styles of yoga, but for me the soul of yoga is always in India. Yoga = Union.

I am blessed to know India.

International Yoga Day

Facebook_2India has taken the lead to create an International Yoga Day, to celebrate this ancient practice and to help more people connect to its spiritual roots – regardless of where they live.

Azul is thrilled to be sponsoring this event – encouraging more people to experience the positive power of yoga to make change in their lives and the lives of those around them.

If you are in London, there will be FREE yoga and meditation all day in the beautiful grounds of Alexandra Palace (from 8am). The day will be led by some of the country’s leading yoga teachers as we salute the sun on the longest day of the year.

The day is a great opportunity to introduce someone new to yoga as there’s plenty of classes for all experience levels including beginners. So bring along friends and family for a great day out.

Find out more on the International Yoga Day website…

About Erika

erika-franciosi-villa-azul-yoga-retreatErika believes that yoga is a very powerful instrument for the purification and strengthening of the body and mind. She practices and teaches yoga as a way to reach balance and harmony in our lives, and with the world around us – as a vehicle which allows us to live up to the full potential of our consciousness.

Erika loves cooking and believes in the spiritual value of food – acknowledging that nourishment for body and soul are interconnected. For Erika, following a vegetarian diet is an integral part of that, allowing her to lead a more spiritual, healthy life.