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Thousands of UAE residents take part in Yoga Day.

Summary: Across the country, enthusiastic crowds including young and old marked the 3rd International Yoga Day

Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

Dubai: The love for yoga united thousands of residents from different nationalities and faiths at various venues across the UAE on Tuesday night.

Despite the heat and humidity, men, women and children enthusiastically took part in the 3rd International Yoga Day (IYD) celebrations.

Around 4,000 people participated at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on Tuesday night.

The Indian missions, which are spearheading the celebrations in the UAE, chose to host the official Yoga Day events a day before the actual day on July 21 in view of the night of Lailat-ul-Qadr falling on Wednesday night.

Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, senior embassy officials, and community leaders were present at the event.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Shaikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of State for Tolerance, were expected to address the gathering before the main session. Keeping Ramadan in mind, the main yoga session was arranged to start at 10:30pm and conclude by 11:15pm.

Pics: Thousands of UAE residents celebrate Yoga Day

Participants started reaching the venue by 8.30pm and yoga awareness session began at 9pm. Various yoga associations performed different yogasanas (postures) including laughter yoga.

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An area on the first floor was reserved for women who could do the yogasanas separately with a lady instructor.

Shaikh Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, its faculty and students supported the event in a big way by organising Arabic Calligraphy for the yoga icon, designing Sanskrit shlokas banner and creating yoga artwork.

Free parking, free entry, free yoga shirts and free yoga mats were available on first-come-first-serve basis for the participants.

"We are very happy to see so many people turning up for the event even during this hot weather and when many of them are fasting," said Vipul, Consul-General of India in Dubai.

He said it was a happy coincidence that the Yoga Day fell during Ramadan as "the ultimate message of Ramadan is peace and harmony, both internal and external, and it gets reinforced in yoga as well."

He observed that the ancient practice of yoga has now become a movement across the world as a holistic way of living life by uniting body, heart, mind and soul.

"Dubai has shown its own commitment in promoting yoga. A number of yoga schools are active here. We conducted the IYD celebrations with huge participation and enthusiasm in the last two years and the tourism department conducted the yoga event. This shows that Dubai has adopted yoga like no other city in the world."

Vipul also lauded government authorities for their support in organising the events, especially for providing public venues in Dubai and Sharjah for free. This included free entry to Zabeel Park where thousands participated in the event at the Mega Ball Amphitheatre.

Ohoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness joined the event at Burj Park in Downtown Dubai.

Senior officials from Dubai Sports Council, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai Municipality and other government departments also attended the Dubai events.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium received thousands of yoga enthusiasts, while around 500 members of the Bohra community took part in the celebrations held at the Burhani Complex in Al Nahda.

The events started with a meditation session followed by a 40-minute yoga session led by veteran teachers from popular yoga schools.

Yoga enthusiast Erica Visarraa, a Filipina production manager with an event management company, said: "This is an amazing event. It's an opportunity for us to do something to release stress. I'm so happy to see so many people from different nationalities joining for yoga."

Elahe Zarei, an Iranian housewife, who has been practicing yoga for 12 years, said yoga has become a healthy way of life for her and her family.

"I do different types of yoga. It has changed me completely. I had gone through some difficult times. I lost my father and I was depressed. Yoga helped me come out of all that. Now my son and sister are also practicing yoga and everyone at home has got into a healthy lifestyle."

Anju Arora, an Indian HR professional, was present with her six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.

"We have always been passionate about yoga. Now my kids are also doing breathing and bending exercises. They also do yoga as part of the curriculum in school and nursery. They are enjoying the event here."

Arora who suffers from allergy and wheezing problems said breathing exercise has helped improve her condition. "And of course yoga is good for mind and soul."

Another Indian expat Chandran Nambiar, who has been practicing yoga for eight years, said he was excited to take part in the Yoga Day event for the third time.

"There were not many yoga practitioners here some 10 years back. Now it is becoming very popular and Yoga Day has definitely helped in popularising yoga."

The Zabeel Park event also saw Ivan Stanley, a Dubai based yoga guru, who set a Guinness World Record during the 2015 Yoga Day event for the longest headstand at 61 minutes, attempting to break his own record.

- With inputs from Binsal Abdul Kader, Senior Reporter

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jun 20, 2017
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