India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he gives a speech in front of students at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not be making history as the first Indian premier to visit Israel until the end of the year, but in less than two weeks one of his passions will be saluted and highlighted in the country – yoga.
The Indian Embassy is sponsoring a day of yoga on June 21 on the first International Yoga Day, a day Modi pushed for when he delivered his maiden speech to the UN last September.
“For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism,” he said. “We treat nature’s bounties as sacred.
Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.
Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
Israel was one of 177 countries that supported the adoption two months later of International Yoga Day.
According to a communique put out by the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv, 1,000 certified instructors will give free instructions on different types of yoga at various locations throughout the country, including in Ashdod, Ramat Hasharon and Hadera. In addition, there will be a full day of yoga seminars, classes and exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Port beginning at 7:30 in the morning.
A number of elementary schools will also be giving yoga classes on that day.
While Modi, a daily yoga practitioner, had obviously hoped that this day would promote harmony, there has been push-back to some of the planned activities in India by segments of the country’s Muslim population, which sees it as an affront to its religious beliefs.
Among the events planned in India to mark the day is a massive 35-minute yoga sessions in New Delhi, and students throughout the country will be encouraged to attend some of the day’s yoga festivities.
According to the Times of India, however, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board demanded that one of the yoga poses, Surya Namaskar, known as the “sun salutation,” be taken out of the program, because it deems it as tantamount to sun worship, which is contrary to Muslim teachings.