Yoga Day At UN Sets Record
By ARUL LOUIS
NEW YORK, NY (IANS) – The International Day of Yoga celebrations on the UN campus on June 21 entered the Guinness World Record for most nationalities gathering for a yoga session, reflecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ message that the ancient art is a universal unifying force.
A mosaic of races and nationalities covered the green of the UN lawn speckled with yellow yoga mats. As one, they went through an array of simple yoga exercises focused on breathing and relaxation.
A representative from Guinness declared that with 135 nationalities participating, the event set the record for the most nationalities gathering for a single yoga session.
Guterres, who was away in Paris for a conference, said in a video message, “Yoga reveals our common humanity, helping us understand that despite our differences, we are one.”
About 1,800 people — officials, diplomats, UN staff, and yoga enthusiasts — participated in the event, spilling over from the lawns to the walkway along the East River.
Before the yoga observances, Modi paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi before his statue and honored at their memorial the peacekeepers who died in the service of the UN.
Modi hit out at the commercialization of yoga, pointing out “Yoga is free from copyrights, free from patents and free from royalty payments.”
Yoga teachers and organizations claim copyrights and royalties and, sometimes, approach the courts. For example, Indian American yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury sued an organization that he claimed had violated his copyright on yoga practices. But the US federal courts threw out his case.
Modi also welcomed the medical and scientific research on yoga.
“I’m delighted that many of you are working on scientifically validating the different aspects of yoga. Indeed, this is the way,” he said while addressing the gathering of about 1,800 people. He said yoga unifies everyone, of all faiths and cultures. “Yoga is truly a universal brand,” he said.
New York Mayor Eric Adams who was present called for making yoga shape the city and national agendas.
Hollywood actor Richard Gere, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, American singer and actor Mary Millben, composer Ricky Kej and chef Vikas Khanna, were among others who participated in the even