Abu Dhabi: A Russian woman, who won the first prize in a quiz competition on yoga conducted by the Indian Embassy here, said recently that a wonderful coincidence linked her with Yoga.
“My birthday is on International Yoga Day on June 21 [as declared by the UN on December 11, 2014]. Since then, my friends never forget to wish me on my birthday,” Yulia Kolpakova, a statistical specialist at a UAE federal authority, told Gulf News on Tuesday.
An Abu Dhabi resident for 17 years, Kolpakova has been practising yoga for six years and reading a lot about this ancient Indian practice, which helped her won the first prize in the contest attended by around 300 people, mostly Indians.
“The reading helped me answer almost all questions, although I didn’t expect to win. As an educationist, I have always tried to learn more about whatever I do,” she said.
An Indian friend introduced Kolpakova to yoga around seven years ago, which, she said, changed her life. Since then, she has been practising yoga at least three days a week; more than an hour at a stretch. The practice gives her relaxation, more energy, and control on her diet as well. “I don’t feel any appetite for dried or junk food.”
Her vacations have also moved to places with yoga retreats. “I visited Kerala [India], Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan in recent years.”
When she visits Russia, she finds that more people are interested in yoga these days. The interest has grown during the past ten years. The strong cultural and people-to-people links between Russia and India are one natural reason behind this trend. “Then, it is part of a global trend as well. People get stressed because of the high demands of modern life and they are looking for something beyond money and material things. Yoga helps there,” Kolpakova explained.
She received her prize from Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, during the Indian Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Embassy on Tuesday.
The embassy had organised the quiz on yoga on its Facebook page as part of this year’s International Yoga Day. Of around 300 participants, it was not clear how many foreigners like Kolpakova participated in the contest. “We did not ask the participants’ nationalities. Most of them were Indians,” said Kapil Raj, second secretary at the embassy.
There was also a selfie competition on three-generations simultaneously performing yoga. “We were not sure whether there would be any such families here in the UAE. But, to our surprise, we received six entries on our Facebook page and twitter handle,” Raj said.
He said the embassy was delighted that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi retweeted one of the participant’s selfie, featuring three-generations of an Indian family in the UAE, comprising Indumati Madhav, Latha Nagarajan and Shakti Mehek.