Yoga guru Ramdev who captivated millions in India by teaching yoga and pranayama is to set foot in U.S. by organizing yoga camps in New York and Chicago. He will be taking his unique yoga mix for health and well-being to the West.
After receiving a good response in Britain last year, Ramdev is holding long duration camps for the first time in the US in June-July.
The Swami, who has surpassed many yoga and spiritual gurus in popularity, is scheduled to hold a yoga camp in New York from June 30 and July 1 and another in nearby New Jersey from July 4-8, with a total capacity of about 3,000 at the two places. Moving on to Chicago, he will hold a camp from July 11-15 for about 5,000 people.
Going by the response to register for the camps so far, they will be filled to capacity, say the organisers. The New York-New Jersey camps have been organised by Animesh and Anupam Goenka under the banner of Heritage India Group.
Says Animesh: "We couldn't get large enough halls here to accommodate the crowds Swami-ji normally attracts." Adds Anupam, "We are getting calls from other parts of America as well, even from Canada."
The Chicago camp is organised by Anu and Bharat Malhotra under the aegis of Power of Breath. Anu, who gives free pranayama (yogic breathing technique) classes, said excitedly from Chicago that the response so far has been overwhelming.
"When last year Swami Ramdev was invited to the UN, he stopped over in Chicago and at a short notice we could get 1,500 people for a day's programme by him. So, this camp will be a success, no doubt."
At the venue, a sports arena, they plan to have artificial grass on the ground to provide the right ambience for yoga, said Anu.
While in New York, the Swami will also give a talk on June 29 on 'Rejuvenating your body, mind and spirit' at Town Hall in Manhattan, sharing the credits with Swami Sukhchaitanya of Art of Living. The event is organised by Vegetarian Vision.
Ramdev will have a ready market in the US, where over 16 million people practise yoga, according to a Yoga Journal survey in 2005.
Swami Ramdev's unique contribution to the yoga revolution now underway in the world is that he lays more emphasis on pranayama, or breathing exercises, than on asanas, or postures, and has combined yoga and Ayurveda (ancient Indian form of medicine). People attending his camps and following his system report dramatic results in getting rid of ailments.
The Swami's dream project is the Rs.1 billion Patanjali Yog Peeth coming up near the pilgrim town of Haridwar. To be completed in three years, it will include a yoga university, a hall for 5,000 people to practise yoga and a naturopathy (nature cure) facility.
The Swami came out unscathed from a controversy in early 2006 when communist leader Brinda Karat claimed that Divya Yog Pharmacy, owned by him, was using human and animal bones in some of their ayurvedic medicines. Tests done at a lab showed that the medicines contained only herbal ingredients.