International Day of Yoga~ Sunday 21st June 2015
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
On September 27th 2014 The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi gave this speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)On December 11, 2014, the UN approved the proposal to establish 21st June as “International Day of Yoga”.
Already a day that many in the yoga world celebrate as it also coincides with the Summer (or here in Tanzania the winter) Solstice.
The world took to it. In India the record was broken for the largest yoga session with over 35,000 participants lead by the Indian Prime Minister himself, in France people practiced under the Eiffel tower. Mass events were held in China, Malaysia and Afghanistan. Here in Tanzania, we joined millions around the world in a morning class. Our programme followed the same protocol to other events around the world. Uniting us in a single practice of yoga.
Our Local event was put together by the Indian High Commission and the Indian Cultural Centre here in Dar es Salaam. Along with many volunteers from various nationalities to make this one truly international day.
The hard work from all parties paid off with a seamless united event. We gathered at sunrise on the Sunday morning, the orange glow of the sun and the excitement started to fill the air. Many yoga loving volunteers were ready to show the first of the students into neat lines. As the sun rose higher, more and more arrived.
Buses of school children, international yoga students, families, Masai and local exercise clubs arrived with great enthusiasm and energy. Everyone finding their place as we began.
I myself was volunteering my yoga skills to be one of the demonstrators dotted around the site; to give a little encouragement to those new to yoga and to show the sequence.I was lucky to be situated towards the back of the crowd. My view was amazing.
As we started the practice. I was blown away by the beauty of the site. My heart swelled and I had a tear in my eye.
Settled between the swaying palm trees, the sound of the sea, and the sight of over 1500 people practicing yoga in unison.
We started with a prayer to unite us all in world peace. Then guided beautifully in English and Swahili through a gentle sequence that everyone could enjoy. There were a few challenging moments, but these were met with smiles and laughter.
I felt warmth fill my body, not only as i was practicing yoga on a beautiful Sunday morning but that i was joined with so many people.
The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning “to join” or “to unite” i am sure all of us felt that energy of being joined as one.
We sat in stillness and silence as the practice ended with a meditation. We soaked up the warmth of the sun, felt the sensations of the asana and pranayama settled into our bodies. The words of the Sankalpa floated across the crowd on the morning breeze and straight into our hearts.
‘I commit, to make myself into a healthy, peaceful, joyful and loving human being. Through every action of mine, I will strive to create a peaceful and loving atmosphere around me. I strive to break the limitations of who I am right now and include the entire world as my own. I recognize the kinship of my own life with every other life. I recognize the unity of all there is.’
The first of many International Days of Yoga was a fantastic success.
Thank you to all the organisers, fellow volunteers, the time and effort that went into show-casing the positive effect yoga can have on our lives. As we left with a sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature, an added smile on our faces and a warmth in our hearts.