Namaste. Today Is the Second International Day of Yoga

Jun 21, 2016

Roll out your yoga mat and take a deep breath: today is the second annual International Day of Yoga. And the country where the ancient practice originated, India, is leading the celebrations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined an estimated 30,000 people in the northern city of Chandigarh in a mass yoga session on Tuesday morning. Modi, who first proposed the day in his inaugural speech at United Nations General Assembly, is keen to tap into the soft-power potential of the globally popular practice's Indian roots.

The day has not been without controversy, however, with some minorities in India arguing the government's embrace of yoga is part of a wider effort to promote Hindu nationalism, a charge Modi denied Tuesday.

"Yoga is not about the other life. Therefore, it is not a religious practice," Modi told his fellow yoga enthusiasts. "It is the science of this world, it is about what we will get in this life."

4001 Indian schoolchildren participate in a yoga session on the eve of International Yoga Day at a school in Chennai, India, on June 20, 2016.
Four thousand and one Indian schoolchildren participate in a yoga session on the eve of International Yoga Day at a school in Chennai, India, on June 20, 2016.Arun Sankara—AFP/Getty Images
4001 Indian schoolchildren participate in a yoga session on the eve of International Yoga Day at a school in Chennai, India, on June 20, 2016.
People practice yoga ahead of the International Day of Yoga, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, June 20, 2016.
Participants perform Yoga during the rehearsals for the upcoming International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi, India, on June 19, 2016.
Indian Army soldiers participate in a yoga demonstration on International Yoga Day in Chennai, India, on June 21, 2016.
People perform yoga to mark International Day of Yoga in Seoul, South Korea, on June 21, 2016.
Thousands gather for a group yoga class in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, on June 21, 2016.
Indian yoga practitioners take part in a yoga session in a swimming pool on International Yoga Day in Jodhpur, India, on June 21, 2016.
People participate in a group yoga class in Times Square as part of the 14th annual 'Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga' to mark the summer solstice in New York, New York, June 20, 2016.
People perform yoga exercises during an event to mark the International Day of Yoga in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 21, 2016.
Indian yoga practitioners participate in a mass yoga session on International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, on June 21, 2016.
Indian yoga enthusiasts perform during a rehearsal for an event on the outskirts of Amritsar, India, on the eve of International Yoga Day, June 20, 2016.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in a mass yoga session along with other Indian yoga practitioners to mark the 2nd International Yoga Day at Captol complex in Chandigarh, India, on June 21, 2016.
Indians holds hands as they attempt to create a record for the longest human yoga chain with more than 8000 participants at an event to celebrate International Yoga Day in Ahmadabad, India, June 21, 2016.
People perform yoga exercises during an event to mark the World Yoga Day 2016 at Bakirkoy Botanik Park in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 21, 2016.
Four thousand and one Indian schoolchildren participate in a yoga session on the eve of International Yoga Day at a scho
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Arun Sankara—AFP/Getty Images
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Elsewhere, more than 100,000 people — apparently a new world record — took part in a yoga class in the Indian city of Faridabad led by high-profile yogi Baba Ramdev, India's NDTV reports. Yoga sessions were also held on Indian naval vessels, and were being planned by India's diplomatic missions all over the world.

Yoga practitioners also filled New York's Times Square on Monday, which was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

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