Time: June 21, 2018
OVER 600 yoga enthusiasts celebrated the 4th International Day of Yoga on Thursday with verve and fervor at the picturesque Al-Madi Park of King Abdulaziz Historical Center in Riyadh, with yoga experts providing an open-air demonstration of the postures for well-being.
This was the first event of its kind when the International Day of Yoga is celebrated in an open arena with the approval of Saudi authorities.
Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice attributed to India. Under the theme “Yoga for Healthy and Active Life”, the Embassy of India organized Thursday’s event at Al-Madi Park, adjoining the historical Murabba’ Palace and the coveted National Museum.
June 21 is celebrated as the International Day of Yoga all over the world. Recognizing that yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being, the United Nations General Assembly in its 69th Plenary Session held on Dec. 11, 2014, decided to proclaim June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
According to experts, yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It is a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. It uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation. It helps improve health and happiness.
It raises and expands the consciousness from oneself to being coextensive with everyone and everything.
Addressing the event, Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for recognizing “yoga” as a sports activity of the Kingdom.
He spoke of the multiple facets of yoga, including the medical benefits attributed to it. The ambassador further appreciated Arriyadh Development Authority and the officials of the King Abdulaziz Historical Center for extending all possible support and arranging required facilities for successfully organizing the event.
The event was attended by many yoga practitioners, including a large number of Saudi men and women, officials of the diplomatic missions in Riyadh, journalists, Indian Embassy officials, their spouses and Indian community members.
Along with three Indian yoga trainers, two renowned female Saudi yoga trainers, namely Noura Al-Wayeli and Reem Ibrahim Al-Arfaj, demonstrated the Common Yoga Protocol and other popular yoga asanas (postures) necessary for fitness and well-being.
Al-Wayeli spoke on the medical benefits of yoga and its growing popularity in the Kingdom. Al-Arfaj shared her experience in propagating yoga in Saudi Arabia. The yoga demonstrations were led by Al-Wayeli and Al-Arfaj.
A special session focusing on the medical benefits of yoga postures was presented by the embassy-based yoga teacher. Simple yoga postures, which are scientifically proven to offer relief in cervical spondylitis, lower backache, diabetes and hypertension were demonstrated.
The event garnered huge attention among the yoga enthusiasts, especially Saudi women. Saudi Arabia has recognized yoga as sports activity in November 2017, thereby paving the way for this year’s International Day of Yoga event to be celebrated in a grand way.
The Indian government also awarded Padma Sri in 2018 to a Saudi women yoga practitioner Nouf Marwaai for her efforts in promoting yoga in the Gulf region, especially in Saudi Arabia.
The Indian Embassy organized online competitions — yoga poster competition and yoga photography competition — from June 5 to 18, and the winners were declared on June 19. The mission received a huge number of posters and pictures, particularly from children, who participated in droves in the competition, reflecting the growing relevance of yoga in the Kingdom.
Earlier, Indian prime minister’s message on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga was shown in a special gathering at the embassy premises on June 18.
Moreover, the embassy in association with the International Indian Schools organized a series of events across the different cities of the Kingdom with participation of over 2,000 students.
The International Yoga Day was celebrated in the Indian School, Riyadh (Boys & Girls Section) on June 20; and IIS Dammam and Jubail (Boys & Girls Section) on June 21. IIS Majmaa will be organizing the IDY celebration on June 24, 2018.
This article was first published in Saudi Gazette
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