Fr Joe Pereira Interview

Picture of Alan Goode
Alan Goode

2024 International Day of Yoga – Yoga for Self and Society

Yoga is said to have emanated in the East, but globally, yoga has become a way of life. People from all walks of life and from diverse multicultural backgrounds, have embraced yoga. In this respect, yoga is truly international, it has no boundaries.

Proposed by India and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, June 21 each year is recognized as the International Day of Yoga (IDOY). The objective is to raise awareness and appreciation about the benefits of practicing yoga and overall, to promote global health, harmony, and peace.

The theme for the 10th International Day of Yoga 2024 is “Yoga for Self and Society.” The theme underscores the dual benefits of yoga: yoga enhances not only personal health, but yoga also contributes to societal well-being. It is this linkage – shifting from personal development to societal improvement – that highlights the 2024 yoga theme.

For Victoria’s rapidly growing Indian diaspora population, yoga is another soft power cultural link emphasizing community engagement and holistic well-being,  strengthening the existing economic ties between Victoria and India. The Melbourne Indian Consulate General, together with Victorian members of parliament, government and community leaders, diplomats, the Indian diaspora, and Indian/Australian yoga experts, participated in several yoga-day activities.

On June 18 2024, in collaboration with Vasudeva Kriya Yoga, the CG celebrated the IDOY at the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne featuring a range of yoga sessions and activities emphasizing ‘Yoga for Self and Society’ ​(Australian Week of Yoga)​​ (Vasudeva Kriya Yoga)​​ (Australian Week of Yoga)​. A similar Consulate-Vasudeva Kriya collaboration marking the IDOY event was held at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 20. Vasudeva Kriya led the roomful of yogis, government and community leaders through the asana practice, progressively stressing the health benefits of each asana.

Iyengar Yoga Australia celebrated the IDOY through a podcast interview with an extraordinary guest in the world of Iyengar Yoga, Father Joe Pereira. Iyengar Yoga is renowned for its focus on precision, alignment, sequencing, and timing. The use of props allows people of all ages, even those with health concerns and disability, to participate. Father Joe describes Iyengar yoga, as a union of science and spirituality, of secular yug,without reference to any particular religion.

A Catholic yogic priest, Father Joe draws upon the teachings of the Bible as well as the teachings of India’s well renowned yoga Guru, B K S Iyengar, to care for the poor, the indigenous and marginalised members of our societies. Father Joe first met Guruji BKS Iyengar in 1968 during his final year of priestly studies in the Papal Seminary, Pune, when Guruji came to demonstrate Iyengar yoga at the Athenaeum.

Mesmerised, both by Guruji and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, another devout follower, Father Joe along with other priests, joined Guruji’s classes at the Mumbai Jesuit Hall. Over the years, Guruji became his mentor, his teacher and his friend, an association lasting over 46 years.

Together with Mother Theresa, in 1981, Father Joe founded Kripa Foundation a wide-reaching organisation that uses yoga, meditation and the 12-step plan to heal people afflicted with chemical dependency. The foundation also assists people battling HIV and Hepatitis C infection. Father Joe believes, to cure addictions, the healing must involve the soul and the mind. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Father Joe reached people in 60 different countries.

For his work, Father Joe has received India’s highest award the Padma Shri. His work and scholarship are well renowned across universities; health sectors and yogi institutions. He co-authored with Mother Theresa the book, The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction. He has also published Yoga for the Practice of Christian Meditation that presents yogic meditation: how to ‘sit still and upright’ for periods of time. He is a regular guest speaker at a number of organisations combatting health afflictions.

To celebrate the IDOY, Yoga Mandir organised a podcast with Father Joe to share his life and practice, as a student of the renowned Guru, B K S Iyengar and his work with Mother Theresa.  Father Joe’s work depicts the correlations between yoga, health and spirituality and science, the connexions between individuals to fellowships between societies.

The various collaborative initiatives during the yoga-week by the Consulate General with events across Victoria, uniting Victorian government and community leaders and Indian diaspora yogis, Yoga schools holding free classes and recording podcasts, truly generate awareness and reflect the special individual and societal bonds between Victoria and India.  

Father Joe’s podcast is available below

Yoga & Christianity Conference.

Germany. 31 August-2 September 2024

Rita Keller and Alan Goode are hosting a 3 day residential conference and the program will include Ravi Ravindra (Canada) and Fr Joe Pereira (India). The conference will be hosted in a seminary in Lantershofen (1 hour from Cologne) and the daily program will include asana, pranayama, along with presentations and opportunities to exchange views and share meals.

It will be possible to attend in-person or online.

It promises to be a rewarding event and full details will be published shortly. Stay tuned …

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