PHOTOS: Irvine Yoga Fest marks first-ever International Day of Yoga


Jihye Choe, front, joins in on a free yoga class at at Mike Ward Community Park on Sunday. The city of Irvine observed International Yoga Day with a “Yoga Fest” featuring a day of free yoga classes, vendors, music and dance.ANA VENEGAS, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


IRVINE – Yoga enthusiasts from all over Orange County gathered Sunday at Mike Ward Park to celebrate Irvine’s first Yoga Fest.

In December, the United Nations declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga. When folks from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, a voluntary, non-profit institute in Irvine, heard about the declaration, they gathered forces and started planning the Irvine event with the hope of engaging the community. A suggested donation of $5 went toward covering the expenses of the event, but all the workers there were volunteers.

“Yoga has a much bigger meaning that just exercise,” said Sourabh Tandon, a Yoga Fest volunteer. “It’s important for mental, spiritual and emotional health. It can help you in all aspects of life.”

From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., people of all ages gathered in the open field around two stages – one with yoga instructors, one with live music. The first yoga class of the morning began with Pranayama, a breathing exercise intended to clear the mind.

Tables, umbrellas and chairs were set up next to various vendors that lined the perimeter.

“Lots of Indian children grew up watching their parents do yoga,” said Alpesh Trivedi, owner of Masala Craft restaurant in Santa Ana.

Trivedi brought his family business to the Yoga Fest to sell traditional North Indian food. He prepared for three days to have enough food for 1,000 people predicted to attend the Yoga Fest. Trivedi is hoping the Yoga Fest will increase yoga awareness and grow each year.

“This is for a good cause,” he said. “This is for peoples’ health and peace.”

Diane Vinh of Anaheim was among the attendees Sunday. “I heard about it from one of my yoga classes, and I just wanted to see what it was like,” she said.

Vinh has been doing yoga for about seven years.

“It helps me meditate and focus on myself. It helps me connect to the world,” she said.

“We want yoga to be spead everywhere,” said Suresh Lohiya, one of the organizers ofthe event. “We hope to do this again and we hope the community will support us.”