MORRISVILLE — Subhash Mittal crossed his arms over his shoulders, grabbed the bottom of each earlobe and squatted.
The “smart yoga” pose, which is believed to stimulate the brain, is used as punishment for school children in India, said Mittal, 70.
While physically grueling, the pose hits pressure points and has a calming effect, he said.
On Sunday, Mittal and other yoga enthusiasts will showcase the benefits and art of the practice. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh cultural organization will host the first Dharma & Yoga Fest at the North Carolina Hindu Society campus in Morrisville.
The free event highlights the cultural stamp of the town’s Indian-American presence. The town has also become a sort of hub for cricket, a popular sport in South Asian countries.
Yoga, which originated in ancient India, focuses on physical and emotional well-being. The practice became popular in the United States in the 1960s.
The Morrisville festival will honor the 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who spread his philosophies and the concept of yoga in the western world.
Morrisville is the perfect place to host the ceremony because of its diverse population and proximity to Research Triangle Park, said Dasharath Lohar, the event coordinator.
“With RTP and the high-tech jobs there, you have high stress and people confined to offices,” he said. “Learning yoga of all types eliminates and can help stress. It can lead to a calm and peaceful life.”
The festival will feature panel discussions, yoga demonstrations, chants, face painting, children’s games, magic shows and skits. Author Stephen Knapp will be the keynote speaker.
Mittal, who has practiced yoga for 50 years and teaches at Integral Yoga Studio in Morrisville, will be one of the panelists.
“I want to explain the practice of yoga is not just limited to the physical aspect of yoga,” Mittal said.
As a teacher of Hatha yoga, Mittal said, breathing and meditation exercises can be just as beneficial to the body as cardiovascular workouts and strength training.
“Think of yoga as a practice of mind, body and spirit,” Mittal said.