As the world celebrates International Day of Yoga on Sunday in a unique event that is in many ways an endorsement of the Indian way of life, more than 30,000 people are expected to participate in a mass demonstration of the ancient art in New York’s Times Square after global leaders and diplomats from around the world launch the observance at the UN headquarters.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to deliver the keynote address at the start of the day’s celebrations at the UN headquarters in an open plaza along the East River. General Assembly President Sam Kutesa and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj are slated to speak on the occasion along with representatives of some of the nations that co-sponsored the International Day of Yoga resolution.
The UN celebrations are to be webcast on the UN network and also shown on the NASDAQ market building’s giant, seven storey-tall video screen and others on Times Square.
The idea of an International Day of Yoga was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the General Assembly last September, calling yoga “a holistic approach to health and well being” and to finding “the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”
Yoga enthusiasts in Canada are gearing up to celebrate the day in public. A record number of yoga enthusiasts are expected to flock to Mississauga on Sunday,to celebrate the 1st annual International Day of Yoga. The organizers are expecting about 2,000 people to participate in the largest yoga practice ever happened in Ontario.
“It’s an initiative for common good, an initiative for universal well-being of all human beings,” said Akhilesh Mishra, the Consul General of India in Toronto, who participated in the press conference’s stretching session led by local yoga instructor Uma Bhalla recently.
Across the GTA, Yoga schools are offering free classes for those who are curious about yoga and its many health benefits.
In an interview with Can-India, Sarbjeet Kalia, a yoga teacher/owner of Indian Yoga and Meditation Centre, Brampton said interest in yoga is at its peak. “I teach Hatha yoga. 80 percent of my students are South Asian and women. Men aren’t drawn to yoga, they feel shy or are scared about their flexibility. It is so essential for people to learn to breath properly. I stress on the importance of controlling breathing as it is linked to the state of the mind,” he said.
Sally DaRosa who is a banker by day and a yoga instructor has been practicing yoga for ten years and swears by it. “It has changed me as a person. I am now calm, grateful for the small things and more appreciative,” she said. In North America, yoga is associated with Caucasian women in particular, very few South Asians seem to have taken to it. “I have noticed that,” says Sally. “Indians have been slow to take to yoga, surprising since yoga originates in India. Maybe when people immigrate here, they lose a lot of the spiritual aspects and follow North American traditions. Yoga has plenty of long-term benefits. It improves concentration, health and well-being. It is a way of life,” she said.