Thousands of yoga enthusiasts across the world – from New York to Trinidad and Tobago, from the Maldives to Australia, from Tel Aviv to Moscow – spread their mats for yoga sessions on June 21 to mark the inaugural International Day of Yoga (IDY).
It turned out to be a perfect platform to bring the world together in the spirit of unity and harmony.
Events were held in the morning hours in 192 countries, organised by Indian missions and yoga centres.
The UN last year announced the holding of IDY on June 21, as proposed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a keen yoga enthusiast himself.
The yogis went through the exercise routines in the “Common Yoga Protocol”, established by India’s Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
The Protocol, consisting of 35 easy-to-follow exercises or asanas, is based on the classical yoga texts, and is available in eight world languages and all the Indian languages.
Leading the exercises himself from one of New Delhi’s largest boulevards, Modi described the event as training the human mind for mind-body balance, peace and harmony.
A record-breaking 36,000 people, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took part in the main early morning event at Rajpath – the ceremonial boulevard and the surrounding green expanse that connects Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace on Raisina Hill, with the World War I memorial India Gate in the heart of New Delhi.
The event at Rajpath, which converted it into a “Yogpath” in Modi’s words, was replicated across state capitals, cities, towns and rural areas in the country. India’s armed forces joined the rest of their countrymen from on board Indian naval ships to the heights of Siachen glacier and to the arid deserts of Rajasthan, to make this a mega event.
India notched two world records on the inaugural IDY at Rajpath – for the most number of participants in a yoga lesson with 35,985 at Rajpath – and for the most number of nationalities attending a yoga lesson, with people from 84 countries participating at Rajpath.
The Guinness record is currently held by Vivekananda Kendra which organised a yoga event with 29,973 people in Gwalior on November 19, 2005.
In Canberra, Yoga Practitioner Darryl Alexander, conducted a mass yoga session at the East-West Lawns of Old Parliament House.
In Sydney, sessions were conducted at Bondi Beach, Taronga Park Zoo, and at Parramatta.
In Melbourne, events were held at Durga Temple Rockbank, Federation Square, the 8th Annual Yoga conference at Keysborough, Amma Ashram Carrum Downs, St Albans Parish Scoresby, Sai Temple Camberwell, BAPS Temple Mill Park as well as events in Seabrook, Wyndham and Werribee.
Yogis gathered at Brisbane’s Parkland Boulevard, Adelaide’s Veale Park, Gold Coast’s Burleigh Heads Beachfront and Darwin’s Nightcliff
Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed delight for Australia to be part of the International Yoga Day celebrations, adding that the discipline’s universal popularity demonstrates its appeal to people from all walks of life.
“For thousands of years, yoga has provided its followers with a guide to bringing their mind, body and spirit into balance. The International Day of Yoga is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the benefits of yoga. Yoga’s universal and growing popularity demonstrates its appeal to people from all walks of life and its great potential to foster better health among individuals and populations around the world. I commend the honourable Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, and the High Commission of India in Australia, for their efforts to share this valuable and ancient discipline with the global community. Australia is delighted to be part of the inaugural International Day of Yoga. In communities right around our country, tens of thousands of Australians have embraced yoga as part of their daily health and exercise routine,” his message read.