Countdown begins for celebration of first International Yoga Day
New Delhi: A staggering 37,000 yoga mats will be spread along Rajpath and the verdant lawns around India Gate on June 21 Sunday that will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead the nation in some early morning yoga - with 192 countries across the world joining in as the world marks the first International Day of Yoga in a global endorsement of an ancient Indian discipline.
India will seek to break a few records on the day, besides of the largest yoga gathering at a single spot with 37,000 people performing different yogic asanas or positions. More than 50 diplomats are expected to join in the yoga on Rajpath that day - another record.
Yoga events would be observed in 192 of 193 countries across the world on the day - another record. The only exception being Yemen which has been hit by civil war.
The UN General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga following a proposal by Prime Minister Modi during his speech at the UNGA on September 27 last year. The resolution for the Yoga Day was cosponsored by 175 of the 193 member nations in a short period of 75 days. Forty seven of the 56 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries too joined as co-sponsors, in a telling example of the universality of yoga, said an official. While Pakistan did not co-sponsor it did not object to the resolution either, he added.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be travelling to New York on Friday to preside over the headline event at the UN where 30,000 people are to participate in a mass demonstration of yoga at Times Square. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to deliver the keynote address at the start of the day's celebrations at the UN headquarters.
The mega preparations for the event in the national capital have begun in right earnest, with Rajpath - the greenery-flanked avenue in the heart of the capital's government district that sweeps down from Raisina Hill with the presidential palace at the crest - cordoned off and a huge stage coming up at the crossing. All the 150 foreign missions have been given invites for the event.
Participants, including government officials, members of the National Cadet Corps and school children, would do the asanas during the around 35-minute event.
The event, which would begin at around 6 a.m., would also be observed across India.
After a speech by Prime Minister Modi, the asanas would commence, according to the Common Yoga Protocol, which has been put together by the AYUSH ministry, which is organizing the celebration along with the ministry of external affairs.
At the events held across the world, yoga gurus from established yoga schools would be presiding over the function, including via web linkup.
The major yoga schools associated with the event are Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Foundation, which runs around 150 centres across the world, the Isha Foundation, the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Institute, Patanjanli International Yoga Foundation and the Gayatri Pariwar.
All participants would be required to know the Common Yoga Protocol beforehand and would have practised the asanas before attending the June 21 event.
The asanas are divided into different sections, beginning with the loosening up exercises, like neck bending and body twisting. The second section of asanas done in Standing Posture comprises six yoga exercises, including Tadasana or palm tree posture, and Vriksasana or the tree posture.
The third section is of Sitting Postures, with five asanas, including Sasankasana, or the hare posture and Vakrasana, or spinal twist posture. Then comes three Prone Postures, including Bhujangasana or the Cobra Posture. This is followed by the Supine Postures, which comprises three asanas, including the difficult Setubandhasana or the bridge posture, Pavanmuktasana or wind releasing posture and finally Savasana or the dead body posture. Breathing exercises like Kapalbhati and Pranayama follow, then a spot of dhyan or meditation, and finally the Shanti Path.
A two-day international yoga conference will be held in Delhi following the event.
It is estimated that 250 million people around the world practice yoga, over 20 million of them in the US. June 21 is also the Summer Solstice day in the northern hemisphere when the daylight hours are the longest.