UN ambassadors, diplomats, spiritual leaders, members of civil society and children participated in a flagship Yoga Day event organised yesterday by India's Permanent Mission to the UN.
They enthusiastically participated in the two-hour long yoga session with the theme of 'Yoga for peace', performing different yoga asanas and exercises on colourful yoga mats spread across the expansive North Lawn in the UN Headquarters.
"Today's world is incredibly complex. We are challenged by an erosion of our core values and in many walks of life stress is given, delusion prevails especially amongst our youth...Yoga, deriving from the Sanskrit word of unity, is so very apt for the United Nations," Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said in her address yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the International Day of Yoga.
Voicing her deep appreciation to India for organising the Yoga Day event, Mohammed underscored the importance of yoga in the overall well-being of individuals and even in various aspects of the world body's functioning.
"In the UN, our three pillars are stressed and therefore require us to be even more resolute in our service to humanity. Therefore, physical and mental health must be at the core of our attention to ourselves. And this is where yoga can play a central role," she said, referring to the three founding pillars of the UN system - peace and security, human rights and development.
She said balance in life is essential to living a long and healthy life and has deep meaning and a commitment to humanity and oneness with nature.
"Key elements of the body, mind and spirit woven into our human being allows us to know peace and tranquillity, giving a space in our minds for reflection which in turn allows us to be so much more productive and serving the values that we stand for," she said.
Mohammed noted that her appreciation of yoga has deepened over the years and given the manifold mental and physical benefits on yoga, she wished she had been exposed to the practice much earlier in her life.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said the growing popularity of yoga over the years and it's global embrace is based on the simple fact that "yoga works" for people across societies, age, gender, ethnicity and profession, by contributing to personal, physical and mental well-being and promoting individual and societal peace and harmony.
Akbaruddin, who joined those gathered in performing yoga exercises and asanas, said yoga has become even more relevant as the world is recognising the critical importance of moving towards more sustainable lifestyles, in tune with surroundings and more in harmony with nature.
Several events have been planned by India's Permanent Mission to the UN at the world body's headquarters to commemorate the Yoga Day.
An exhibition on yoga was inaugurated in the UN building on June 18 and will run through June 22. As in past years, yoga postures were projected through lasers on the North Facade of the UN Headquarters Building.
A video message by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Yoga Day was played at the beginning of the event, which included yoga performance by students from India led by yoga expert Nisha Pushpavanam.
This was followed by songs by the Chinmoy Centre, a yoga session by Swami Parmananda of Sivananda and a talk on yoga by H R Nagendra, Yoga therapist, academic, writer and Founder Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) Deemed University, Bengaluru.
A panel discussion 'Conversation with Yoga Masters', on the theme of 'Yoga for Peace' will be held today.
The Indian Consulate General also organised the first International Yoga Conference, bringing together eminent yoga experts, scholars and practitioners from India and other countries to discuss and share ideas on benefits of yoga for personal well being as well as for community welfare and social cause. Indian Council of Cultural Relations President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe led the Indian delegation to the conference.