Hundreds of women and girls took centre stage at a massive celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga at Dubai World Trade Centre on Sunday evening

Dubai: Hundreds of women and girls took centre stage at a massive celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga at Dubai World Trade Centre on Sunday evening.

Organised by the Indian Consulate in Dubai in partnership with Friends of India Events and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Dubai, the event saw participants taking part in several yoga sessions for over two hours under acclaimed yoga instructors from India and other countries.

Sudanese national Haifa Mohammed was among the yoga instructors who led various yoga sessions.

Highlighting the benefits of different asanas (postures) and breathing techniques, instructors guided participants to be mindful, reconnecting with the self and the Almighty while also thanking Mother Earth. A session also showcased the power of music therapy through yoga.

The International Day of Yoga (IYD) falls on June 21 and the theme this year is “Yoga for Humanity”.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir, who inaugurated the Dubai event, said “yoga can be a medium to bring humanity together for a healthy and soulful purpose”.

While yoga has its origins in ancient India, he said, it is today a part of the entire world heritage.

“The world has adopted yoga for its simplicity, its benefits and its relevance in contemporary life. Therefore, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi first spoke at the UN General Assembly in September 2014, and urged the world to adopt June 21 as International Day of Yoga - the spirit behind it was to make the yoga understood and accessible to the entire world,” he said.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir addressing the gathering.

Congratulating the women participants, Sudhir said: “This shows the popularity of yoga across genders, as much as it is popular across faiths and nationalities. Yoga is about breathing, postures, diet, mind and soul – all of which transcend gender, faith and nationality. The Government of India has developed a Common Yoga Protocol which has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation. “ On IDY last year, WHO, with support of Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, launched the mYoga app to encourage people to practise quality yoga at the touch of their smartphone screens. No wonder, this is an acknowledgement that yoga is for the world, Yoga is for all of Humanity,” the envoy said, urging everyone to download the app to take advantage of it.

Unprecedented scale

After two years of modest celebrations of Yoga Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sudhir said this year is seeing the event being held at an unprecedented scale both in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi.

“In partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, IDY is being celebrated on June 21 at the lush green Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance, will be our chief guest on the occasion.”

This year is seeing the International Day of Yoga being marked at an unprecedented scale in the UAE.

The UAE is also an active part of global IDY celebrations across the globe, he said. “At sunrise on June 21, there will be an IDY event at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi and another one with the backdrop of the Museum of the Future in Dubai. The programmes will be televised live in India and across the world,” Sudhir added.

Yalla Yoga

Chief guest of the event Fawzia Faridoon, head of the Women’s Sports Committee, Dubai Sports Council, said DSC has also been promoting yoga in Dubai through various events.

“We have launched an event called Yalla Yoga, especially for women,” she said, emphasising the health benefits of yoga.

The special guest at the event was India’s shooting champion and legislator from the east Indian state of Bihar Shreyasi Singh.

A winner of the Arjuna Award, the second-highest sporting honour of India, Singh said: “Beyond the benefits of its physical form, yoga allows us to connect the body to mind and helps you become calmer and healthier.”

She said practising yoga has helped her in becoming more determined and calmer and enhanced her ability to perform both as a sports person and a politician.

Singh said the theme of the Yoga Day has been chosen keeping in mind the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on humanity and hoped that yoga will help humanity to build a healthier world.

Sudanese national Haifa Mohammed, a yoga alliance-certified yoga teacher and a registered Reiki Healer, was among the yoga instructors who led various yoga sessions.

A group of female workers from EFS Facilities Services group took centre stage in presenting a session on standing asanas while a group of students from DPS School in Dubai also took part in leading a group yoga session.

The yoga postures and movements presented included yoga for hair, a relatively new concept presented mainly for the women participants. Nisha Ganapathy from Dabur International, said: “Stress is one of the reasons for hair fall. Some of the postures in yoga help relieve stress and increase circulation. We too promote such asanas."

Yoga in curriculum

DPS is one of the CBSE schools in the UAE that is offering yoga as a subject at the senior school. Shilja Vignesh, yoga teacher at the school, told Gulf News: “Grade 11 and 12 students are learning yoga as the sixth paper which is optional. There are four classes per week for grade 11 and five for grade 12. Two batches of students have already completed their 12th grade exams and we now have the third batch. Students are finding meditation, pranayama and certain yoga asanas useful in improving their focus and performance in other subjects also.”