Venkat Raman –
Hundreds of thousands of people across the world stood on their feet or squatted on the floor practicing an ancient Hindu practice that has invaded most countries in a variety of formats.
‘International Yoga Day’ became a fad as more than 100 countries observed the tradition with fervour, as if not doing so would have them ostracised on the global platform.
Modi takes stance
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started the movement with a suggestion during his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 (the world body adopted a Resolution on December 11, 2014 making June 21 as the International Yoga Day), led more than 36,000 people at Delhi’s Rajpath on that day.
The ‘Yoga Fever’ gripped New Zealand with almost all Indian and non-Indian organisations joining the observance throughout the country. Led by India’s High Commissioner Ravi Thapar, hundreds of people realised the significance of standing on one leg for moments, which, if practiced daily, can accrue panacea for a number of bodily ailments.
New Zealanders observe
Hemant Parikh, Programme Presenter and Sales Executive at Radio Tarana was probably the only person in the country, who attended at least a dozen venues to assess the temperature of the Yogic stance taken by New Zealanders.
“While the events organised by the Art of Living Foundation (of which he is a Teacher and Volunteer) drew large crowds, those put together by the New Zealand Indian Central Association, Auckland Indian Association, Manukau Indian Association, a number of fitness centres and other associations were also popular. Many people organised private Yoga sessions at homes making it a social occasion,” he said.
According to Mr Parikh, if the interest evinced was any indication, ‘International Yoga Day’ will become increasingly popular in the years to come.
“People seem to have realised the real value that Yoga offers. I witnessed a large number of our young men and women and even children participating in Yoga exercises,” he said.
Reports of events have come from Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.
UN Chief enticed
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Yoga as “An ancient discipline from a traditional setting that has grown in popularity to be enjoyed by practitioners in every region.
“Yoga offers a simple, accessible and inclusive means to promote physical and spiritual health and well-being. It promotes respect for one’s fellow human beings and for the planet we share. Yoga does not discriminate; to varying degrees, all people can practice, regardless of their relative strength, age or ability,” he said in a statement.
Mr Ban Ki-moon said that he discovered the value of Yoga while doing his first asana, a tree pose suited to beginners.
“It took a moment for me to gain my balance but once I did, I appreciated the simple sense of satisfaction that yoga can bring. On this first-ever International Day of Yoga, let us see the benefits of this practice in terms of individual well-being as well as our collective efforts to improve public health, promote peaceful relations and usher in a life of dignity for all,” he said.