International Yoga Day: Celebrations across the globe

In 2014, the United Nations declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for the day to be adopted as a global celebration of yoga, an ancient practice that began in India more than 5,000 years ago.

This year’s theme, “Yoga for Health”, hopes to highlight yoga’s holistic approach to both physical and mental well-being, and its ability to create a balance between body and mind.

International Yoga Day is being celebrated in nearly 180 nations. A range of sessions are taking place across the world open to everyone. Here’s a roundup of some events the world over to mark the occasion.

A large number of people including those from the Indian community have participated in special yoga sessions organised by the Indian Consulate in New York to commemorate the third International Yoga Day.

Consul General Riva Ganguly Das led the Yoga Day celebrations at the Consulate premises yesterday and participated in the Yoga and Art of Living (AOL) sessions.

Veteran actor Anupam Kher was chosen for illuminating the United Nations headquarters in New York.

PM Modi's message on Yoga Day was played before practitioners led the gathering through the two-hour yoga and meditation sessions.

Ignoring rain and wet ground, PM Modi rolled out his yoga mat this morning at Lucknow’s Ambedkar Sabha Sthal to lead the celebrations on the third International Yoga Day. Around 45,000 people attended the event, among them Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and key ministers of his cabinet.

Profound Yoga teacher Ramdev and BJP chief Amit Shah started the celebrations in Ahmedabad at IST 5.30 am.

Despite the rain, the streets of capital Delhi’s Connaught Place wore a festive look as people rolled out colourful mats. Yoga events were also held at the city's Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, Talkatora Garden and India Gate. Other senior ministers are leading yoga sessions in different parts of the country.

In Ladakh, at a height of 18,000 feet and a temperature of minus 25 degrees Celsius, the jawans Indo-Tibetan Border Police held a yoga session.

Yoga enthusiasts across the UK participated in yoga events the past week at iconic tourist attractions such as the London Eye and Trafalgar Square. The High Commission of India in London and India Tourism’s UK division staged a yoga takeover of the Coca Cola London Eye, teaming up with a UK-based yoga organisations to unite in a so-called ‘Wheel of Yoga’, on Sunday.

The first-of-its-kind event was classified as “yoga for peace” and took place within 32 pods of the London Eye on the banks of the river Thames to celebrate the opening event of the International Day of Yoga, marked worldwide on June 21.

Hundreds descended upon Trafalgar Square yesterday to participate in yoga sessions as well as Indian cultural performances in collaboration with the Mayor of London. Award-winning classical dancer Arunima Kumar, Artistic Director of the Arunima Kumar Dance Company, lead the cultural aspect of the event with a specially choreographed piece titled ‘Nirvana’ and Indian PM Modi greeted the crowd in a video message.

UAE celebrated International Yoga Day a day before. As the sun set, participants trooped to the main venues in Dubai such as Burj Park, Zabeel Park and Burhani Complex in Al Nahda, Sharjah Cricket Stadium and ADNEC in Abu Dhabi. Warm-up sessions such as stretching, breathing exercises and exercise meditation were held prior to the main yoga session, which continued till midnight.

The events in Dubai were organised by the Indian Consulate General with support from several local schools and yoga associations such as ‘The Art of Living’ and no less than Indian Consul-General Vipul himself joined the yogis at Burj Park. The UAE Minister of Happiness Ohood Al Roumi and Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council also graced the event.