Following the spectacular scenes in Delhi last Sunday, where the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, led the largest Yoga demonstration in a single venue in history, Lord Bilimoria today led the First Annual UN International Yoga Day Celebrations in the UK Parliament to demonstrate the benefits of the ancient practice.
A number of MPs and Peers took part in the event, including the former Defence Secretary, Lord King of Bridgwater, former Managing Director of Marks and Spencer, Lord Stone, former surgeon and professor, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Virendra Sharma MP, Chairman of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group, and Bob Blackman MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus.
The event saw Yoga teachers from around the country discuss the history of the discipline and deliver demonstrations on meditation and mindfulness, breathing exercises, and office yoga.
The event also welcomed the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Ranjan Mathai, as a special guest speaker. In his speech, the High Commissioner stressed the importance of Yoga and stated that he was: “delighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to the United Nations to hold an annual International Yoga Day on 21st June, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, was supported by 177 countries, including Britain.”
The High Commissioner also expressed his gratitude with Prime Minister David Cameron’s declaration that: “the UK is pleased to support International Yoga Day. We were one of 177 countries to vote in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal, and we are pleased to see the enthusiasm with which it is being embraced, both in the UK and around the world.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi persuaded the United Nations General Assembly to declare June 21st as the International Yoga Day, in an impassioned speech in which he declared that Yoga, the physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India, was one of India’s greatest contributions to the world.
Speaking about Yoga, the Indian Prime Minister said: “It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; 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 within yourself, the world and the nature.”
After the celebrations, Lord Bilimoria noted that: “Over the past two and a half decades the world has increasingly been looking to India as an emerging global economic superpower. However, India’s influence on the world has also been through its amazing soft power – with Yoga being a shining example. Today Yoga is rapidly gaining in popularity around the world for its recognised benefits for wellbeing and mindfulness. It is wonderful that, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the United Nations has for the first time introduced International Yoga Day on 21st June 2015. I am delighted that we were able to celebrate International Yoga Day in the Houses of Parliament in London.”