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Amid war, hundreds join Yoga Day celebrations in Israel

By Harinder Mishra
June 21, 2024 09:27 IST
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Over three hundred people from across Israel rolled out yoga mats and performed asanas as they participated in International Yoga Day celebrations at the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv.

IMAGE: People practice Yoga in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 17, 2024. Image used only for representation. Photograph: Nir Elias/Reuters

First Lady Michal Herzog was the chief guest at the main International Yoga Day event on Thursday.

A series of events were held across the country.

The event was organised by the Embassy of India in Israel in association with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Israel.


At the event, Herzog spoke about the deep friendship between India and Israel.

"You state here today clearly: India cares. India is there for Israel. This deep sense of friendship has been evident since the very first moments of the war when Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi came forward swiftly to condemn the brutal massacre and to demand the release of our hostages," Herzog told the gathering.

The First Lady remembered Carmel, a young girl taken hostage by Hamas on October 7, for her love for yoga and India.

"As we touch on the gifts of yoga, it is difficult not to think about the Israeli hostages still in captivity. Those who are not free to move their bodies. Those who cannot breathe freely. Among them, Carmel, a beautiful human being who loves yoga, people, and life. She is still in captivity. We imagine her, with her depth and her beauty, finding humanity in the face of so much hatred. It is a heart-stopping image," she said.

"I along with everyone here await the moment when we will welcome her -- and every one of our hostages home -- and be able to practice yoga, not only for her, but with her," she added.

Indian Ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singla said the ancient discipline of yoga has transcended boundaries and cultures.

"Let us reflect on the essence of this timeless tradition, recognising that its core teachings go beyond mere physical poses to encompass unity, compassion and mindfulness," he said.

The yoga session began with the demonstration of the Common Yoga Protocol led by the embassy's yoga teacher Darshana Rajput.

Those who participated in the event included Israeli friends of India, members of the Indian community and media persons.

Over the past several days, yoga enthusiasts in Israel have organised several events in parks, beaches, promenades and other places.

Almost every form of yoga has patrons in Israel but Ashtanga Yoga with 95 centres across the country is clearly the favourite. Vinyasa and Vijnana with more than 50 centres across the country are also popular.

There are more than 1,100 registered yoga teachers in Israel and yoga centres can be found in almost every major township in the country.

Another popular stream of yoga is the Iyengar School of Yoga which has 30 centres across the country.

Its centre in Jerusalem's Talpiyot area has organised an open week from June 16 to 21 to familiarise people with yoga.

The Indian Cultural Centre in Tel Aviv is also holding a week-long event, which began on June 16, in collaboration with Netanya municipality and is attracting yoga enthusiasts in big numbers.

The International Day of Yoga is celebrated on June 21 every year. This year's theme is 'Yoga for Self and Society'.

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Harinder Mishra
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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