Children perform at the 4th International Day of Yoga 2018 at the Zabeel Park in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: India’s yoga is now uniting people across the Arab world not just on Yoga Day, said some Arab participants at Dubai’s 4th International Yoga Day celebration on Thursday.

Love for yoga united thousands of people of different nationalities at the event organised by the Indian Consulate at Zabeel Park.

Clad in white T-shirts, the young and the old took to yoga mats to spread awareness about the benefits of yoga for physical and mental health.

Roula G., from Lebanon, said there is a big community of yoga practitioners in her country.

“It doesn’t matter from which religion or belief you are to practise yoga. There is no discrimination. It is very important for countries which give importance to all religions and wellness of the people. We all are united for one common cause — harmony of the mind, body and soul.”

A manager in a trading company, Roula said yoga has been found to give a lot of relief to people struggling to cope with social issues.

“It gives the message of love and acceptance of love. It is very important at this era of conflicts and strife.”

Solaf Azzam from Syria said yoga has been bringing love, peace and harmony in another side of the war-hit country that is not often reflected in the media.

“It is a difficult situation there. But people are praying and trying to bring in peace. There is a positive environment and vibe which the media doesn’t always show. A lot people come along together for yoga, irrespective of their age.”

A yoga instructor at Dubai Ladies’ Club, Azzam said she was happy to participate in the event in Dubai. “Next year, I wish to do it in Syria.”

The women said their friends and family members are taking part in Yoga Day events held in their countries as well.

Saudi Arabia’s first certified yoga instructor Nouf Marwaai, who was honoured with Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards of India, led yoga enthusiasts in performing common yoga protocol. Marwaai reached Dubai after attending the official event in Jeddah earlier in the morning.

Rajesh Jagasia, a software engineer-turned-international instructor of Art of Living, led another session in pranayama.

Senior instructors from various yoga schools — Raja Yoga Centre, Sahaj Yoga and Sky Yoga — held yoga sessions for the participants. Consul-General of India in Dubai Vipul thanked the UAE authorities for supporting the Yoga Day celebrations.

While senior government officials took part in the celebrations in various emirates, Dubai Municipality offered free entry to Zabeel Park for all the participants.

Yoga Day messages from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) Shripad Naik were screened at the venue.

Thirty students from The Indian High School Dubai, The Millennium School and Ambassador School performed yoga dances which included dance steps inspired by yoga postures.

Male and female participants took part in yoga posture competitions and a contest to replicate the fitness poses posted on social media by Indian celebrities taking part in the fitness challenge “HumFitThoIndiaFit” (If we are fit, India will be fit). Winners were given away prizes in cash and kind.

The participants also pledged to make yoga an integral part of their lives by practising it as a daily routine for a healthier life.