UAE residents celebrates International Day of Yoga. Photo: Nasreen Abdulla

From children under 5 to senior citizens over 70, and from Indians to Emiratis and Ukrainians, residents across Dubai rolled out their mats for a yoga session at the World Trade Centre on Sunday. Organised by the Indian Consulate two days ahead of the International Day of Yoga, the event saw thousands of people come together and synchronise their movements.

Colourful mats were laid out per social distancing norms all across Hall 1-4 at the Dubai Trade Center exhibition as attendees stretched and relaxed in celebrating the art of yoga.

Five-year-old Laina Ramkumar came with her parents and extended family and was very excited to be there. "Yoga is good for health," she said as she did several asanas with her cousins.

"I like to do yoga and also have yoga at school. I came today with mummy and papa to make my yoga teacher feel proud of me," said Laina as she showed her balancing skills.

From school students to members of professional groups to yoga teachers, participants came from all walks of life. Many of them were of different nationalities.

Ukrainian national Katrina Gudaym began practising yoga six years ago and had been teaching it for three years. "I had back pain as a child," she said. "However, once I started doing yoga every day, I noticed that I did not have any more pain. Also, with time you realise that yoga adds value to your life. It makes you more spiritual."

She was attending the event with her friend Nuri Raiimova from Kyrgyzstan, who discovered yoga accidentally. "Someone I know was looking for a receptionist for a yoga studio in Russia," said Nuri. "I applied and got the job. When I went there, they trained me to teach yoga. So I taught yoga in Russia before coming to Dubai to work as a receptionist at a hotel. I met Katrina there, and we bonded over our love for yoga." The two of them then quit their jobs to become yoga teachers here.

Several high-profile guests, including Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to the UAE; Fawzia Faridoun, Head of Women Section at Dubai Sports Council; Shreyasi Singh, Arjuna award winner for shooting and politician, attended the event.

Sunjay Sudhir congratulated women yoga enthusiasts for turning out in huge droves.

Although the event was primarily aimed at women and children, plenty of men were in attendance. One of them was 70-year-old Shahul Hameed. "The event was well-organised, and thousands of women are here," he said.

"We men are here in support of our sisters and daughters. They are constantly struggling for the family. Yoga is a great way to improve their health and wellness, and we must fully support them to take it up as a regular form of exercise."

The event was divided into short duration sessions to target different wellness areas. While one session focused on stretching the joints, another by Vatika demonstrated yoga asanas for improving hair quality.

One of the instructors at the event was a Sudanese yoga teacher and registered Reiki Healer, Haifa Mohammed. "It has been a pleasure to conduct the session here," she said. "Yoga is way more than a physical practice. It is a change in your entire life. As you reconnect with your breath, it helps you improve your relationship with yourself, with those around you and with your environment. It is so heartening to see the number of participants increasing every year."

In 2014, the United Nations adopted June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, due to its significance as the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.


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