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Modi and mutts on mats for International Yoga Day

The theme of this yoga day, the fifth, is "climate action".
Updated Jun 21, 2019 03:44pm

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some well-poised pooches led the way on Friday for International Yoga Day, this year with the theme of stopping climate change.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga on International Yoga Day in Ranchi, India on June 21. — Reuters
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga on International Yoga Day in Ranchi, India on June 21. — Reuters

Yoga Day, observed mostly in India but also worldwide on the Northern Hemisphere's longest day, was Modi's idea. It was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in 2014 and first took place in 2015.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga on International Yoga Day in Ranchi, India on June 21. — Reuters
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga on International Yoga Day in Ranchi, India on June 21. — Reuters

Modi performed sun salutations and other flexible feats in a mass early-morning session with an estimated 30,000 other devotees that was live-streamed on the media-savvy premier's Twitter feed to his 48 million followers.

Indian Armed Forces personnel take part in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day on the Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat anchored at the harbour in Mumbai on June 21. — AFP
Indian Armed Forces personnel take part in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day on the Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat anchored at the harbour in Mumbai on June 21. — AFP

Elsewhere in India, armed forces personnel laid out their yoga mats on the deck of the aircraft carrier INS Viraat anchored in Mumbai while at India Gate, a Delhi landmark, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh led the way.

This handout photo released by the Indian Ministry of Defence and taken on June 21 shows an Indian Army Dog Unit doing yoga poses as part of an event for International Yoga Day in Jalandhar in north India's Punjab state. — AFP
This handout photo released by the Indian Ministry of Defence and taken on June 21 shows an Indian Army Dog Unit doing yoga poses as part of an event for International Yoga Day in Jalandhar in north India's Punjab state. — AFP

This handout photo released by the Indian Ministry of Defence and taken on June 21 shows an Indian Army Dog Unit doing yoga poses as part of an event for International Yoga Day in Jalandhar in north India's Punjab state. — AFP
This handout photo released by the Indian Ministry of Defence and taken on June 21 shows an Indian Army Dog Unit doing yoga poses as part of an event for International Yoga Day in Jalandhar in north India's Punjab state. — AFP

In Haryana the Indo Tibetan Border Police stretched out atop their nonplussed-looking horses and lying on the ground with their dogs who valiantly put their best paw forward, as did the pooches of the Border Security Forces and the Army Dog Unit, tongues hanging out.

A boy performs on the mallakhamb, a traditional Indian sport, during International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India on  June 21. — AP
A boy performs on the mallakhamb, a traditional Indian sport, during International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India on June 21. — AP

Foreign consulates in Delhi also got in the act with staff at the French embassy in the red, white and blue of the national flag. Germany's new poney-tailed envoy and staff did their asanas a day early around his shiny red Ambassador car he calls "Auntie Amby".

Members of India's National Cadet Corps (NCC) took part in a mass yoga session at the Bison Polo Grounds in Hyderabad while roughly 70,000 people took over the race course in Mysore in the south.

A dog sleeps as exile Tibetan students of the Tibetan Children's Village School participate in a yoga session to commemorate the International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India on June 21. — AP
A dog sleeps as exile Tibetan students of the Tibetan Children's Village School participate in a yoga session to commemorate the International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India on June 21. — AP

Modi this year took to business networking website LinkedIn to extol yoga as a "panacea" for stress and even hate.

"In a world where ideologies of hate can potentially divide brother from brother, Yoga stands as a unifying force," Modi wrote.

"In a time where health ailments, especially stress-related ailments are rising, Yoga is giving relief and joy."

The theme of this yoga day, the fifth, is "climate action" and Modi said yoga can "foster oneness ... with all the flora and fauna with whom we share our beautiful planet".

Indian lawmakers perform yoga in front of the parliament house to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India on June 21. — AP
Indian lawmakers perform yoga in front of the parliament house to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India on June 21. — AP

In recent days Modi, 68, fresh from a landslide election victory, has also posted videos to social media featuring an animated version of himself performing different yoga postures.

An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, performs yoga on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India on June 21. — AP
An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, performs yoga on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India on June 21. — AP

Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice originating in India. The word derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness, the UN's official Yoga Day webpage says.

It has boomed in recent decades, with millions - perhaps up to 300 million — practising it regularly, although in the West it is often more of a physical than a spiritual activity.

Indian yoga practitioners take part in a yoga session on International Yoga Day at the 15th century Adalaj Stepwell in Adalaj, some 40km from Ahmedabad in western Gujarat state, on June 21. — AFP
Indian yoga practitioners take part in a yoga session on International Yoga Day at the 15th century Adalaj Stepwell in Adalaj, some 40km from Ahmedabad in western Gujarat state, on June 21. — AFP

Among the more unusual forms that have sprung up are "hoga" (yoga on a horse), "noga" (nude yoga), "doga" (yoga with a dog) and Harry Potter yoga complete with a "Downward Dumbledore".