The Yoga Show in London
By Tattvavit Dasa
In London, the weekend of Nov. 23rd-25th, the second or third annual Yoga Show took place: exhibits by many yoga groups and enterprises catering to today’s yogis. Held in Olympia, an auditorium in Kensington, it offered Adi Guru Dasa and other householders the opportunity to arrange a Bhakti Yoga booth. These devotees have an incense/clothing business (Ashram Emporium), and all passers-by received a sample of incense in a package printed with the Hare Krishna mantra. The London Radha-Krishna temple provided already sponsored books, which were resold at The Yoga Show to defray the costs of the Bhakti Yoga booth.
A devotee in the booth taught Mantra Meditation: chanting Hare Krishna on beads. Sincere participants in these short, interactive sessions appreciated them. They seriously felt they needed relief from mental distress, for example, or were curious. An airline stewardess who is vegetarian, an Australian girl working in London, a Swiss mother with a baby daughter (her third child), a Russian mother with a baby boy, a male teenager mixed-up by drugs, a couple of Indian ladies and a couple of curious English ladies were among the people who took home beads to chant on.
A few people with other yoga groups, who must write about bhakti-yoga as part of their teacher training in yoga, stopped at the Bhakti Yoga booth to get books. Children’s books were also on sale and found an audience. All weekend, a new lifesize poster of Krishna stood in front of the Bhakti Yoga booth. On it was printed the question, Who Is Krishna? along with short answers from Bhagavad-gita: I am the light of the sun, I am the taste of water, and so on.
Perhaps the best book customer was a middle-aged lady from South Africa. She had just been in Vrindavana, India, and had wandered into ISKCON’s Krishna-Balarama Mandir. The kirtanas there unexpectedly attracted her. Till then, she had chanted some mantras in a parrot fashion in yoga classes, but the heartfelt chanting in the temple really drew her in. It stayed in her mind for two weeks, and every morning she woke up with the chanting of Hare Krishna in her mind. She was also impressed by the many Indians worshiping Krishna at the temple in Vrindavana and felt ISKCON’s authenticity. ISKCON also stood out at The Yoga Show as having a lot of substance behind what it offers, compared with many new yoga clubs (an official body that yoga groups in the U. K. can work under is called The Governing Body for Yoga in the U. K.).
Devotees had some opportunities to chant Hare Krishna on a stage (with audiences of up to fifty people clapping or singing), to do a Bharatnatyam dance, and to offer a talk on bhakti-yoga in a quiet room, all advertised in The Yoga Show program.
–ys, Tattvavit Dasa
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