Not just in India, but people in cities across the world from Washington DC to Tokyo to Sydney took part in mass sessions on Sunday to mark the first ever International Day of Yoga.
Hundreds of yoga enthusiasts took to mats and performed stretches, bends and breathing exercises at different locations across 192 countries. Sessions were held at the lawns of the National Mall in Washington DC, the banks of the Thames in London, in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and in front of the Opera House in Sydney.
47 Islamic countries were among those who took part in the Yoga Day celebrations, not withstanding the controversy by Muslim groups over the religious association of Yoga.
United StatesSeveral yoga enthusiasts took to bright red mats at the historic Times Square in New York in the early hours of the morning.
Millions of Americans are now said to at least occasionally bend to yoga's draw, and as the day progresses, thousands of them will be out on their mats in other public plazas across the country.
Thousands of yoga practitioners and enthusiasts in more than 14 cities across China came together in association with local government bodies and several yoga institutes.
According to the Indian embassy, more than 25,000 yoga practitioners participated in mass events, lectures, screening of movies on yoga, cultural events and photo exhibitions across China.
The events saw participation from local government officials, Indian community members, diplomats, business delegates, Chinese celebrities, media professionals and academicians.
The day witnessed celebrations organised by over 30 yoga and India focussed cultural institutions all across the country.
The main event on the bank of the river Thames in London marked the launch of other smaller events across various cities this morning.
It was held at Bernie-Spain Garden, on the South Bank of Thames, and commenced with the lighting of a lamp followed by speeches and exercises.
At the Stonehenge in Salisbury, the site of ancient pagan religious worship, revellers participated in yoga as they celebrated the summer solstice and International Yoga Day.
ParisPeople dressed in white stretched out on yellow mats under the landmark Eiffel Tower in Paris and practiced yoga.
This 'naav pe yoga' session was organised by the Indian embassy in France along with the Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravishankar.
Pakistan & Afghanistan
In Pakistan, it remained confined to the premises of Indian high commission with the staff of the mission along with other foreign diplomats in the country performing 'asanas'.
The members of the diplomatic community in Pakistan and staff of the Indian High Commission performed various Yoga postures . The event started at 7 am and went on for two hours.There was some initial initiative by Pakistani authorities to mark the day, but it was cancelled later. Pakistan had rejected visa to an Indian Yoga teacher who was being sent for preparations of events planned for the International Yoga Day.
AustraliaOver a thousand people participated in dozens of events across Australia to mark the day, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott appreciating Yoga's universal appeal.
Melbourne saw over 500 people gather at the Springers Leisure Centre to kick off the day with 'Surya Namaskar' and bending and twisting their bodies in complex postures.
Yoga events were also held at Sydney's popular Bondi beach and in the Australian capital Canberra.
SingaporeMore than 4,000 yoga enthusiasts participated in a two-hour programme held at 50 centres across Singapore, to mark the first International Yoga Day.
The event was led by the High Commissioner Vijay Thakur Singh and Singapore's minister in the Prime Minister's office, Grace Fu to observe the Yoga day.
Singapore has a large community of yoga enthusiasts, Grace noted, pointing out that Yoga was the 5th most popular exercise within the People's Association, which has grassroot centres across the island state and it support the High Commission of India in organising the event.
NepalThe International Day of Yoga was celebrated in Nepal, despite heavy rains, with over 800 enthusiasts taking part in a yoga session here, also attended by noted Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala.
The event was organised by the Indian embassy in the presence of Vice President Parmananda Jha. Yoga Sandesh published by the Indian mission in Kathmandu was released by Jha and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae.
The programme included 30 minutes of yoga postures, pranayams (breathing exercises) and five minutes of meditation.
ThailandYoga events were held at Bangkok, Chiangmai, Phuket and Pattaya.
"The whole event was superb, the participation was extraordinary from schools and universities in Thailand," India's Ambassador to Thailand Harsh Vardan Shringla said.
Thailand's minister of tourism and sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul was the chief guest at the event attended by ambassadors, representatives from the UN and Indian associations.
TokyoThe International Day for Yoga was also held across Japan. India's Ambassador to Japan Deepa Wadhwa said Tokyo itself had several events on the Yoga Day.
The celebrations that mostly had Indians in attendance, incorporated a variety of activities including talks on the benefits of yoga and ayurveda as well as a wide range asanas.
Among the participants in Durban were Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, as well as a host of politicians, businessmen and other popular names.
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