Roll out that yoga mat: today marks the second annual International Day of Yoga.
India is the birthplace of the ancient practice, so it’s only fitting the country will be spearheading celebrations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined with roughly 30,000 people in Chandigarh for a mass yoga session this morning. Modi proposed a day of yoga celebration at his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
Nothing these days can be appreciated with controversy; yoga is no exception. Rather than taking part in the promotion of a relaxed body and mind, minorities in the country argue the government’s warmth towards yoga is part of a larger agenda: promoting Hindu nationalism.
It’s a claim Modi denies repeatedly.
“Yoga is not about the other life. Therefore, it is not a religious practice,” Modi preached to fellow yoga enthusiasts. “It is the science of this world, it is about what we will get in this life.”
In other parts of India, more than 100,000 strong participated in a yoga class that took place in the Indian city of Faridabad. Celebrity yogi Baba Ramdev led the routine. Yoga sessions were celebrated everywhere, with classes even taking place on naval vessels.
Moving west, yogis filled New York’s Time Square yesterday to celebrate the soft-power practice during the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.