Hundreds of yoga lovers wearing white shirts and black pants are bending and stretching their bodies on colourful mats in an early-morning outdoor session. Despite monsoons, it’s luckily sunny, not raining for them to enjoy yoga for a while.
To commemorate the fifth international Yoga Day on June 21, Myanmar’s yoga enthusiasts gathered and performed yoga at People’s Park in Yangon.
Almost 800 trainees and coaches who come from not only Yangon but different parts of Myanmar participated in this celebration and showed their love for yoga, said Master Jack, a founder of the Yoga Association Myanmar, a federation of clubs.
The United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied in his first year in power in 2014.
The theme of Yoga day 2019 is “Yoga for Climate Action,” and Modi said yoga could foster oneness with all the flora and fauna with whom we share our beautiful planet at an event on Friday conducted in Ranchi, India’s eastern city.
The Yoga Association Myanmar organized the event alone for the first time. “We plan to hold an event in Myanmar on the exact day of the international day of yoga to mark this day with people who are hooked into yoga from all over the world,” Jack said.
According to the Indian Embassy, a similar event took place at Mandalar Thiri Football Stadium in Mandalay to mark the day. Every year, the Indian Embassy organizes different yoga programs such as a conference and a quiz contest to spread the goodness of yoga across Myanmar.
“In the coming years, I look forward to the embassy of India and Yoga Association in Myanmar cooperating in the celebration of the international day of yoga more closely,” India Ambassador to Myanmar Saurabh Kumar said in his welcome remarks, adding that yoga can be a tool to strengthen ties between the two countries.
In recent years yoga has gained popularity quickly in Myanmar as people can afford to do. Studios and gyms which have yoga classes are popping up in Yangon.
“Since 2015, when I came to join the yoga association, the growth rate of participation in yoga has risen dramatically. I can say it grows like doubling every year,” Jack said.
Khin Maung Swe, a senior member of the yoga association and a famous yoga coach, said he could feel that there are more and more people who are enjoying yoga in Myanmar. He started teaching yoga in 2004.
“Every people from young kids to old men can do yoga. It’s very beneficial for human beings,” he added.
Nang Aint Kham, one of the participants who come from another state of Myanmar, said, “I want to meet other yoga practitioners and new trainees. I am very happy to join today.”
It’s her mother to import yoga on her. She started doing yoga after her mother recovered from her sickness by beginning yoga. “I want more people to do yoga because it has various health benefits for human’s mind and body. Unlike other exercises, it can make our internal organs better.”
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice originating in ancient India. Although in the West, yoga is often recognized as a physical exercise, it is more of spiritual activity as well.
“We only focus on external appearances, and people like to train the body. But there are more and more mental diseases under much stress these days, and no specific medicine can heal the mind. Yoga can help to fix this problem,” Jack said.
Jack also pointed out that easy access is another advantage of yoga. “You are able to learn yoga everywhere. Yoga does not need a big space or a bunch of equipment. You can just start practising it day by day. Then you can automatically learn the best way to do yoga for you.”
The yoga sessions have been observed in India and across the world this entire week. People have shared their photos of practising yoga on Twitter to enjoy Yoga day together.
Most of India's 191 embassies and consulates worldwide organized yoga sessions to celebrate the day, according to the foreign ministry of India.