From New York to Beijing to Durban: How cities across world celebrated Yoga Day

  • Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 22, 2015 04:03 IST

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 States

Several yoga enthusiasts took to bright red mats at the historic Times Square in New York in the early hours of the morning.

Photo- Twitter At the Sylvan Theatre Stage on the National Mall, right across from the White House, participants wore white T shirts sporting the hashtag #YogaDay2015.

Photo- Twitter

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.

The international event was celebrated in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Xiamen, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Wenzhou and Changzhou, the Indian embassy said.

Chinese perform yoga under the instructions of Indian yoga teachers at a hotel banquet hall in Changping District near Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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.

United Kingdom

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.


People dressed in white stretched out on yellow mats under the landmark Eiffel Tower in Paris and practiced yoga.

Photo- AFP Sessions were also held on boats floating along the Seine river, following the same route taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his French host, President Hollande in April.

Photo -Twitter

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.

Afghan school children practising Yoga at a private school in Kabul. (AP Photo/ Massoud Hossaini)

In Afghanistan, students performed yoga at a private school in Kabul. Afghans and foreign nationals performed yoga at the Indian Embassy in Kabul.


Over a thousand people participated in dozens of events across Australia to mark the day, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott appreciating Yoga's universal appeal.

Photo - Twitter

"For thousands of years, yoga has provided its followers with a guide to bringing their minds, bodies and spirits into balance. Yoga's universal and growing popularity demonstrates its appeal to people from all the walks of life and its great potential to foster better health among individuals and populations around the world," Abbott said.

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.


More than 4,000 yoga enthusiasts participated in a two-hour programme held at 50 centres across Singapore, to mark the first International Yoga Day.

Photo - Twitter

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.


The 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.

Photo- Twitter

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.


Yoga events were held at Bangkok, Chiangmai, Phuket and Pattaya.

Photo - Twitter

"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.


The 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.

Photo- Twitter

Wadhwa flagged off at the premises of a Japanese school where around 500 yoga enthusiasts attended the session.

South Africa

Thousands of enthusiastic people turned up at various venues across South Africa , with the coastal city of Durban recording the maximum participation.

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.

Hundreds of people take part in a yoga session at the amphitheatre lawns at the North Beach in Durban. (AFP Photo/Rajesh Jantilal)

The biggest gathering was on the beach in the coastal city of Durban, home to more than half of South Africa's 1.4 million citizens of Indian origin.

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.

Full coverage : International Yoga Day

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