New Zealanders mark International Yoga Day with enthusiasm

International Yoga Day at Indian High Commission Wellington (Photo Supplied to RNZ)

Gaurav Sharma
Auckland, June 30, 2023

Yoga enthusiasts have celebrated the Ninth International Day of Yoga by breathing, stretching and meditating at more than 20 events nationwide.

This year’s theme was Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the world is one family.

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated by millions worldwide on 21 June each year since 2015, after being initiated by the UN General Assembly a year earlier.

The festivities this year were no different, with the Indian High Commission in Wellington partnering with organisations in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin, Invercargill, New Plymouth and Rotorua. The day was also celebrated in Samoa, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.

Hamilton was among the cities where yoga fans got together( Photo Supplied to RNZ by Ekal Vidyalaya through the Indian High Commission)

Yoga in Parliament

One of the prominent celebrations took place on the grounds of Parliament in Wellington, hosted by the Art of Living New Zealand.

The High Commissioner of India to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan praised Yoga’s inclusion in the curriculum of several educational institutions and fitness centres nationwide.

She highlighted the role that Yoga played in fostering people-to-people ties between India and New Zealand.

“Yoga is well-known for its health benefits and healing properties. It alleviates physical distress and aids mental well-being. There are many Yoga centres here, which teach the techniques. In addition, many from New Zealand visit India to learn from the masters there. This strengthens the understanding of each other’s cultures and traditions,” she said.

The day-long event in Wellington included demonstrations on breathing and mindfulness. Attendees were also introduced to the science of Yoga.

Yoga enthusiasts in Christchurch (Photo Supplied to RNZ)

Yoga around the country

The International Day of Yoga was marked at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland’s Eden Terrace neighbourhood on 25 June. It was hosted by Auckland Indian Association.

President Dhansukh Lal said that Yoga is India’s gift to the world.

“With increasing awareness, the number of participants even from the wider community has grown steadily over the years. To inculcate the healthy habit of Yoga in the younger generation, we had a special session for children this year,” he said.

The Diocesan School for Girls also held a dedicated Yoga session on 21 June, with one of the parents, Dinesh Pahuja in the lead. More than 100 schoolchildren practised Yoga poses and light exercises, the Indian High Commission said.

Similar Yoga sessions were organised by the Waitākere Indian Association in West Auckland, the Indian Association Manukau in South Auckland and the Indian Association Waikato and Ekal Vidyalaya in Hamilton.

The Wellington Indian Association, New Plymouth Indian community and Hindu Council Rotorua also marked the day in their respective cities during the week.

“This was the first time that the Yoga Say was observed by us in West Auckland, with over 160 people participants,” Waitakere Indian Association President Sunil Kaushal said.

“Even more heartening was to see many other ethnicities, including Māori, Pacific, Chinese and Europeans take part with huge enthusiasm,” he said.

The South Island’s Indian community hosted several Yoga events throughout the week.

In Christchurch, the Indian Cultural Group took the lead. In Dunedin, it was the Arasan New Zealand Trust. In Invercargill, the Indian Community in Southland marked the day with more than 80 Yoga enthusiasts demonstrating the benefits of Yoga.

“Since its inception in 2015, we have annually celebrated the International Day of Yoga in Christchurch. This year’s theme highlights our interconnectedness and the potential to foster a world of peace, respect and understanding,” Indian Cultural Group President Sandeep Sachdev said.

Indian Community Southland President  Vinay Sood echoed the sentiments.

“The Yoga Day provided us an opportunity to explore trade opportunities between Southland and India, with the Indian high commissioner making her maiden visit to the south,” he said.

Ms Bhushan, who is concurrently accredited to Samoa, Niue, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu, was the Chief Guest at the event in Invercargill.

“In Samoa, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa led the gathering at Friendship Park and shared the benefits of Yoga. I hope with increased awareness more and more people make it a part of their daily lives,” she said.

Gaurav Sharma is a Senior Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above Report and pictures have been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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