Yoga Day at UN sets record as Modi, Guterres stress its universality
The International Day of Yoga celebrations on the UN campus on Wednesday entered the Guinness World Records for most nationalities gathering for a yoga session, reflecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary Generl Antonio Guterres' message that the ancient art is a universal unifying force.
A representative from Guinness declared that with 135 nationalities participating, the event set the record for the most nationalities gathering for a single yoga session.
Modi said that yoga unifies everyone, of all faiths and cultures.
"Yoga is truly a universal brand," he said.
Guterres, who was away in Paris for a conference, said in a video message, "Yoga reveals our common humanity, helping us understand that despite our differences, we are one."
He said that Yoga Day has embraced the spirit of unity and resolve to build a better and more harmonious world for the people, planet and ourselves.
A mosaic of races and nationalities covered the green of the UN lawn speckled with yellow yoga mats. As one, they went through an array of simple yoga exercises focused on breathing and relaxation.
About 1,800 people -- officials, diplomats, UN staff and yoga enthusiasts -- participated in the event, spilling over from the lawns to the walkway along the East River.
Before the yoga observances, Modi paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi before his statue and honoured at their memorial the peacekeepers who died in the service of the UN.
UN General Assembly President Csaba Korosi emphasised yoga's role in protecting the environment.
"Yoga is an ethical guide, it is a guide to sustainability, not overusing," he said.
New York Mayor Eric Adams called for making yoga shape the city and national agendas.
The spirit and emotion of yoga should "challenge [us] to fight against war, to fight against gender oppression, to fight against violence and to fight against lack of clean water", he said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)
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