Swami Saradananda's blog

2017 Devon Yoga Festival

Each Summer, I attend the Devon Yoga Festival, an annual, not-for-profit and non-commercial event that celebrates and embraces the holistic practices of yoga. All proceeds are donated to the charity that I support: the Ganga Prem Hospice (the unique spiritually-oriented cancer hospice) in Rishikesh, India and to the Glacier Trust (developing sustainable practices in Nepalese hill farming communities). 

The festival was created in 2011 by Duncan Hulin, founder and director of Devon School of Yoga, In response to the growing popularity of yoga. Duncan wanted to create an event that was purely about yoga, offering teachings from various traditions and styles.

This year, the weekend of 14-16 July saw the fifth annual Devon Yoga Festival take place at the Rill Estate near Buckfastleigh, an idyllic location in the west of England. Participants enjoyed comfortable (but not luxurious) accommodations, amazingly delicious vegetarian food and 3 days of inspiring yoga classes, workshops, talks, music and kirtan.

This was definitely our best year! Although the energy at the Festival is always nice, I found it to be especially joyous this year. The English summer weather was kind to us, allowing attendees to enjoy the outside lawns and woods of the 80 acre Rill Estate. 

The Festival itself raised £1,000 for Ganga Prem Hospice. April Pierrot and I ran a small stall selling handmade socks and shawls - all produced by the Kullu Valley women’s collective. This little table received an additional £191 in donations plus unbelievable sales totalling £965. This brought the total amount raised to £2,156 – when it is transferred to India, this will convert to almost 2 lakh rupees (200,000 INR).

On Saturday evening, Duncan spoke about his recent visit to the Hospice in Rishikesh. I gave a talk about the work of the Hospice that I've been involved with for almost 10 years. I reminded people how even a small donation makes so much difference in India. I also suggested to the yoga teachers in the audience that they offer a monthly ‘donation’ class. Or – ‘donate your birthday’ to the Ganga Prem Hospice in place of the unwanted gifts that people tend to receive. We managed to inspire a number of people to connect with GPH on a grass-roots level and hope that will lead to future fundraising.

The Devon Yoga Festival’s ethos of 'small is beautiful', its simplicity, along with its non-commercial and not-for-profit principles make it a unique yoga event. I look forward to attending it again next Summer.

Over the years, the Festival has raised an amazing £6,485 for the Ganga Prem Hospice.

A huge thank you to everyone that took part in the 2017 Devon Yoga Festival – and extra special blessings to the main organisers: Duncan, Jules and James for their incredible dedication!

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