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Over 15,000 Join Yoga Day Celebrations Across Texas Amid Heat Wave Conditions

Mainstream Americans outnumbered Indian-Americans at the event, reflective of the increasing popularity of yoga in the US.


Updated:June 23, 2019, 8:05 AM IST
Over 15,000 Join Yoga Day Celebrations Across Texas Amid Heat Wave Conditions
Representative Image. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ PeopleImages/ IStock.com)

Texas: Despite heat wave conditions across Texas, over 15,000 yoga enthusiasts rolled out colourful mats before bending, twisting and turning their bodies in complex guided positions to perform the ancient Indian spiritual practice, marking the fifth International Yoga Day celebrations.

The Consulate General of India, Houston, in partnership with several supporting groups, celebrated the main event Friday evening, that was attended by over 1,200 enthusiasts at Midtown Park.

Mainstream Americans outnumbered Indian-Americans at the event, reflective of the increasing popularity of yoga in the US.

The organisers had to increase the capacity of their venue to accommodate an unprecedented number of excited yoga enthusiasts, from all ages and backgrounds, including a 97-year-old practitioner.

Many representatives of elected officials and consular members of other countries also participated at the event.

Representative of Congressman Al Green presented certificate of special congressional recognition to IYD "in honour of your service to the community".

"Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and wellbeing to better one's life in every aspect," said Fort Bend County Judge K P George, who was the chief guest, while delivering a proclamation at the International Day of Yoga event.

Dr Anupam Ray, Consul General of India, whose team worked for months to make the event a success, told PTI, "Yoga's soaring popularity can be seen from the crowds that join in the celebration every year. From serious yoga practitioners to curious beginners, each successive IDY has been drawing bigger crowds and garnering greater interest."

"Being a yoga practitioner myself, I encourage all Texans to perform yoga, which is India's biggest and best to date export. The beauty of it is that its origin is from India, but its application is universal," he said.

American College of Sports Medicine's Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2019 ranked yoga seventh on a list of 'Top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2019'.

Fifty-five million Americans could be doing asanas by 2020, while the yoga industry's revenue is projected to increase from around USD 7 billion in 2012 to about USD 11.6 billion by 2020.

At the event, a guided yoga session based on the 'Common Yoga Protocol' was performed by the participants.

The session was led by various yoga experts.

A concluding prayer was organised to "channel energies in the right direction" after which participants broke out in a lively exchange of powdered colour dance party akin to the Holi festival in India.

Indian vegetarian food stalls around added to the joy of the participants.

In the run up to this year's IDY, the Houston Consulate organised several events in collaboration with yoga organisations and yoga studios around Texas, resulting in a record turnout for the celebrations.

The fifth IDY at Houston and across Texas beat all the expectations, yoga enthusiast Vijay Pallod said.

"Non-Indians clearly outnumbered Indian-Americans in the record turnout, proving that yoga has hit mainstream America,"he said.

Terming yoga as a "holistic" and integral science of life, a Yoga teacher said , "Yoga is a unifying concept that can be beneficial to millions of people."

The IYD 2019 was observed in more than 200 cities across the US, with scores of organisations -- cutting across religious lines -- coming out in its support.

In Houston, where several Muslim organisations sponsored the yoga events, many corporate bodies distributed free mats and T-shirts to the participants.

"IYD created a transformative experience as experts from local studios came out to teach techniques associated with yoga, making it easy to perform poses to strengthen mind, body and soul," said Elizebeth Marlatt, who adopted yoga in her life for the last three years.

Coordinator of Houston's yoga events Sharad Amin expressed his appreciation for the cooperation from Houston's yoga community in celebrating IDY for the past five years.

"Yoga is a precious gift given by Indian sages to humanity," he noted.

"Yoga is not just an ancient practice, but a path to self-realisation, which if embraced leads to happy and harmonious world," said Deputy Consul General of India, Surendra Adhana, who kicked off various events since June 15, including Austin, Johnson Space Center, Bohra Community mosque, among others as part of the state-wide celebrations.

In other events this weekend, the Hindu Temple of the Woodlands hosted the event on June 22 morning, where around 1,000 enthusiasts started the day with sun salutations, followed by various other guided poses and ended with a guided meditations session.

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