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Bolt and Gayle join as International Day of Yoga celebrations begin world over

Consulate General of India in Bali celebrates the 7th International Day of Yoga with strict health protocol measures on Sunday at Nusa Dharma Island

From iconic Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and swashbuckling West Indian batsman Chris Gayle in the Caribbean to reigning Olympic champion and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Africa; from the Buddhists monks in the Asian highlands to the Aboriginal Australians, the world is all set to celebrate the International Day of Yoga on Monday. Celebrities and Indian missions worldwide have already imparted a high-octane push to spread the unique Indian message of good health and well-being, and that too in style.

The idea of an International Day of Yoga was first proposed by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on September 27, 2014. Thereafter, while recognizing the universal value of yoga, the United Nations had proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga on December 11, 2014 during the 60th UN General Assembly. The resolution was endorsed by a record 175 member states.

International Day of Yoga 2021

Shared heritage and traditions are the hallmark of relations between India and Sri Lanka. A special Yoga session was held at Param Dhamma Chaitya Pirivena, Ratmanala on Sunday to mark the International Day of Yoga 2021 (Image courtesy: High Commission of India in Colombo)

For the second consecutive year, the day will be marked at a time when Covid-19 pandemic continues to upend the lives and livelihoods of people globally.

Recognizing this important role of yoga in promoting both the physical and mental well-being of humanity during the challenging times, the UN said that this year’s commemoration of the International Day of Yoga focuses on 'Yoga for well-being' – how the practice of yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual.

The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations will have an online celebration on Monday which will open with messages from the President of the United Nations General Assembly and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, followed by demonstrations of yoga exercises (asanas) to improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and an Interactive panel discussion on yoga for well-being.

International Day of Yoga

A selfie point placed at the UN headquarters by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, New York (Image courtesy: Twitter/@IndiaUNNewYork)

The Consulate General of India in New York has also partnered with Times Square Alliance to celebrate the seventh International Day of Yoga which would witness yogis from around the world join together in a symphony of holistic health and well-being at the famous intersection in New York City.

Meanwhile, not too far from New York, eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt from Jamaica wished healthy and peaceful living for all on International Day of Yoga 2021. In a video message posted by the High Commission of India in Kingston, the champion athlete said that yoga remains valuable to global health, harmony and peace.  

Bolt's dear friend and fellow countryman, cricketer Chris Gayle, who enjoys a massive following in the subcontinent, invited all his Indian fans and people of Jamaica to join the International Day of Yoga celebrations on June 21.

Another former West Indian great, Richie Richardson from Antigua too has sent his message on the International Day of Yoga, saying that yoga is "a gift from India" which brings harmony between mind and body.

Thousands of miles away, in Kenya, world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, the first man to break the two-hour barrier, also wished everyone a "very happy" International Day of Yoga. In a video clip posted by the High Commission of India in Nairobi, Kipchoge said that yoga is playing a significant role in everyone's lives during the Covid-19 pandemic by allaying fears and anxiety, especially during  quarantine and isolation.

The Indian embassies and consulates across the world have also made elaborate arrangements to celebrate the event. The Indian embassy in France has been orgainising special virtual sessions on yoga and meditation. On Wednesday, it had organised a conversation session on yoga between Colette Poggi, an author who translated Bhagvad Geeta to French, and UNESCO Artist for Peace Guila Clara Kessous.

In Hamburg, the Consulate General of India, will be holding the yoga day celebrations in collaboration with the Indian associations in Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig Holstein and Lower Saxony, while following restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Bhutan, the Indian High Commission today organised a unique yoga session for the specially-abled children of Draktsho Centre in Thimphu. On Thursday, a pranayama session for the monks of the Central Monastic Body was also conducted by the embassy ahead of the International Day of Yoga.

International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga

Down Under in Australia, the High Commission of India in Canberra has been organising yoga sessions and webinars in association with Isha Foundation and Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS) in Brisbane.

International Day of Yoga

At the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh, India's Ambassador to Cambodia, Devyani Khobragade, herself a keen yoga enthusiast, is leading the yoga day celebrations. The Embassy team kickstarted the inaugural session of International Day of Yoga celebrations at its premises on Friday.

International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga

International Yoga Day

Clearly, the efforts made by the Ministry of AYUSH (MoA), which had begun preparations for the 2021 International Day of Yoga at the start of the year, by taking numerous steps to enhance the acceptance and adoption of the practice of goga, both within India and abroad, are now showing results.

The formulation of the Common Yoga Protocol (CYP) training programme, which in many ways is the soul of the yoga day observance, has facilitated harmony among millions who have joined the celebrations. The CYP is one of the most popular yoga programmes across the world and is widely performed every year on the International Day of Yoga. It is designed to be easily adoptable by most people, irrespective of their age and gender, and can be learnt through simple training sessions and online classes.

Also Read: In 'test of fire', Caribbean greats Richards and Gayle bat for India's vaccine diplomacy