Auckland’s chilling weather on Sunday, June 16, failed to deter hundreds of enthusiasts from rolling out mats to participate in International Yoga Day celebrations.

In one of the major celebrations, Aucklanders thronged in huge numbers at the official event hosted at Mahatma Gandhi Centre, by all major community organisations and the office of the Consulate of India, to defy cold weather outside and participate in performing of yoga.

While the International Day of Yoga falls on June 21 every year, Consulate’s office in Auckland and Indian High Commission’s office in Wellington led the community by hosting events from Sunday, June 16. Several other community organisations have planned to host smaller events throughout the week.

Representatives from all major Indian community organisations under the Consulate of India umbrella came to the event on Sunday morning, June 16 with their community members at Mahatma Gandhi Centre.

The event started with an official lighting of lamps and welcome speech by Hon. Consul of India Bhav Dhillon, and Auckland Indian Association Inc. president Narendra Bhana, who welcomed yoga enthusiasts on a chilling morning.

Subsequently, yoga instructors Bindi and Manoj Chouhan from the Art of Living led the participants to a powerful and relaxing yoga experience for the next hour an half.

The instructors commenced the session with a traditional chanting of ‘Om’ followed by basic exercises, yoga poses and fun activities signifying the importance of proper breathing. Some of the many asanas performed were Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose),  Kapalbhati Pranayama, Baddha Konasana, Setu Bandhasana Yoga, Virabhadrasana, Savasana etc.

This was followed by different asanas and yoga postures that attendees performed following the instructions by the Art of Living yogis on the stage. The event also witnessed many yoga instructors and teachers from different organisations who participated in the event to make it a big success, some of whom will be hosting special yoga sessions on Friday, June 21, on the actual date of International Day of Yoga at their respective centres in and around Auckland.

One of the fascinating aspects of this event was the spirit of participation and eagerness to learn more about yoga and the happiness it brought on the faces of the visitors.

“Although, its a cold Sunday morning- I was looking for this event ever since the poster was released by the organisers last month,” one of the attendees told The Indian Weekender.

“Sitting around me were some non-Indian members of the community, children aged from five to ten, elderly men and women, some of whom were not able to sit on the ground but they sat of the chair and enthusiastically followed the instructions of the yogis and performed yoga,” the attendee said.

Earlier, the mutually-shared enthusiasm amongst community leaders to make this event successful was visible in several promotional videos released in close collaboration with the office of the Consulate of India inviting people to come along with their friends and family members to enjoy yoga.

“I have been to several yoga events but performing yoga alongside your fellow community members and leaders is something that does not happen every day,” a community leader, who chose to remain anonymous, added.

The yoga session ended just 11 a.m. when community members inquisitively asked about how to bring yoga into their lives, not only to perform on occasions but to make it into their daily routine and rake the benefits for themselves and their families.

The attendees were then served with fruits, and light snacks arranged from the kitchen of Auckland Indian Association Inc. and by a brief mix and mingle between the members of the public.  

Expressing satisfaction with the event which witnessed overcrowding of the big hall, Hon Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon said, “It brings me immense joy to witness such massively successful participation from the Kiwi-Indian diaspora who were able to draw non-Indians to the mega yoga event,”