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Yoga close to UN values of sustainability, peace: official

India’s Permanent Mission organised events at the UN to mark Yoga Day at the world body’s headquarters in New York.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2017 13:42 IST
UN building lit up ahead of International Yoga Day on June 19, 2017.
UN building lit up ahead of International Yoga Day on June 19, 2017.(PTI)

Yoga can make an important contribution in achieving a healthy life and promoting well being for all at a time when the world is striving to achieve sustainable development goals, a top UN official has said on the eve of the third International Yoga Day.

Top UN diplomats, officials, envoys, yoga practitioners, children and people from all walks of life attended a grand event organised by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN to mark Yoga Day at the world body’s headquarters on Tuesday.

“Yoga underscores the unity of all things and of all people, a concept that is very close to the UN values of sustainability and peace. Yoga also promotes inner calm and it is highly necessary for us to better understand one another in the challenges we face,” UN Secretary General’s Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti said at the event, delivering the secretary general’s message on Yoga Day.

With ‘Yoga for Health’ the theme for this year’s Yoga Day, Viotti said at a time when the international community is striving to achieve the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDG), yoga “has an important contribution to make in achieving a healthy life and promoting well being for all.”

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson, who also participated in a yoga session along with India’s Permanent Representative Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, said yoga has now assumed a global identity and the ancient art of physical, mental and spiritual balance helps people achieve a “sense of well being. It guides us towards being in harmony with our fellow humans and with nature.”

“This year’s theme of ‘Yoga for Health’ directly links yoga practice to sustainable goal number three that focuses on ensuring healthy life and promoting well being at all ages,” Thomson, wearing a special yoga t-shirt made for the occasion, said in his address to the gathering.

“Yoga connects our body with nature and leaves us with a better balance with the world around us. In the plethora of activities and challenges of the 21st century, we need precious moments of self-reflection to allow us as individuals to play a positive role in improving the world around us,” he said.

The United Nations also issued special stamps commemorating the Yoga Day. The UN postal agency, UN Postal Administration (UNPA) issues the new special event sheet to commemorate the day that has been marked annually since 2015.

The special sheet consists of stamps with images of the sacred Indian sound “Om” and various yogic asanas.

Hundreds of specially designed yoga mats were spread across the UN’s sprawling north lawns, facing the imposing UN General Assembly hall and the UN Secretariat building, as people from all walks of life descended on the world body’s headquarters to participate in the ‘Yoga Session with Yoga Masters’, a special event led by Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, India and Swami Sivadasananda of Sivananda Yoga Retreat, Austria.

Chants, hymns, prayers and the sound of “Om” reverberated across the UN as leading yoga practitioners led the gathering through sessions of yoga and meditation. Several young children, part of the Mallakhamb Federation USA, performed the sun salutation while gymnasts from the organisation performed gravity-defying rope and pole demonstrations, drawing huge applause from the audience.

The Indian mission will organise ‘Conversation on Yoga for Health’ at the UN in association with Department of Public Information and World Health Organisation.

Speakers at the event will include renowned Indian actor Anupam Kher, World Health Organisation Executive Director Nata Menabde, Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Former NFL athlete turned yogi Keith Mitchell, Bluechip Marketing Worldwide CEO Stanton Kawer and Swami Sivadasananda.