Dubai: Thousands of residents braved humid conditions to take part in a mass yoga event in Dubai’s Zabeel Park to mark the fifth International Day of Yoga on Friday.
The free public event attracted families, friends, youth, the elderly and yoga enthusiasts from Dubai and other emirates, which are also hosting yoga events until Saturday.
Dubai’s main yoga event at Zabeel Park was organised by the Indian Consulate in Dubai in cooperation with Dubai Sports Council, NMC Healthcare Group, and supported by Dubai Municipality.
Yoga teachers from the Art of Living conducted some of the sessions, and other participating yoga schools included Sahaj Yoga, Raja Yoga Centre, Heartfullness Yoga, Sky Yoga and Laughter Yoga.
There were prizes for participants — such as a television, microwave oven and refrigerator — and two free air tickets to India were given away through a raffle draw. There were women-only, senior citizens’ and children’s contests too.
Carrying their yoga mats, people streamed through gate three of Zabeel Park to take part in the Friday’s event, which started at 6.30pm.
Rows of cloth were also laid out in the main area for the yoga sessions, held in the oval-shaped amphitheatre-like centre of the public park. Water bottles were also arranged neatly along the rows.
People registered and were handed white T-shirts carrying the yoga day logo.
There was also a session on ‘laughter yoga’, which included laughing non-stop for a minute, while looking up, arms reaching to the sky.
Two large screens and speakers made it easy for the yogis to follow the lead of instructors from a stage at the front of the gathering. Some visitors followed the sessions intermittently from the sidelines.
For certain positions or routines, instructors also provided a word of caution for those with ailments such as high blood pressure or those who had undergone certain surgeries. A first-aid station and ambulances were also present.
Indian swimming coach Mahesh Chauhan, 24, said he practised yoga every morning. “I take part every year in the mass yoga events in Dubai for International Yoga Day. Though I do yoga daily, this is a special event and I make it a point to enjoy it with friends,” he added.
Another participant, Prasant Upadhyay, 26, said he had been a yoga fan since grade one, when his school — in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh — would hold yoga sessions.
“Yoga is not new to me, what brings me here today is the community spirit and chance to enjoy time with friends,” Upadhyay, said a maintenance supervisor from India.
“I don’t mind the humidity, we spend all the time indoors with the air-conditioning on, so why not spend one evening outside? It’s a chance to enjoy the outdoors and nature in this nice park,” he added.