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Nearly 36,000 People Set a Record In India for the World’s Biggest Yoga Session

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The world unfurled its yoga mats on Sunday, with millions across the globe turning out to celebrate the first International Yoga Day.

People gathered in large numbers to practice the ancient physical and spiritual discipline, everywhere from New York City’s Times Square and the Eiffel Tower in Paris to locations in Afghanistan, South Korea, China and Kazakhstan. But no gathering was larger than the one in India’s capital New Delhi — a massive affair led by none other than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose brainchild International Yoga Day was.

With 35,985 participants, the New Delhi event has been declared the largest yoga demonstration at a single venue, beating out the previous record of just under 30,000 set by Indian school students in 2005.

Modi surprised the crowd gathered at Rajpath — the main thoroughfare leading from India’s parliamentary building — by descending from the stage after addressing them and joining them in performing various yoga poses, the Press Trust of India reported.

Modi, a major proponent of yoga who practices it on a daily basis, thanked the U.N. and its 193 member nations for their unequivocal endorsement of his proposal to establish June 21 as International Yoga Day, which he hopes will herald a “new era of peace.”


See Photos From the World's First International Day of Yoga

India Yoga Day Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits on a mat as he performs yoga along with thousands of Indians on Rajpath, a boulevard in New Delhi, June 21, 2015. Saurabh Das—AP
international yoga day india
Thousands of participants perform yoga on Rajpath, a boulevard in New Delhi, on June 21, 2015.MOD/AFP/Getty Images
First International Day Yoga
Thousands of participants perform yoga yoga to mark the international Day of Yoga, at Rajpath, a boulevard in New Delhi, on June 21, 2015. Harish Tyagi—EPA
India Yoga Day international
An Indian girl, left, displays a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi painted on her face as another sports the logo of International Yoga Day in Bangalore, India, on June 21, 2015.Aijaz Rahi—AP
Afghanistan Yoga Day
Afghan students perform yoga during the first International Yoga Day, at a private school in Kabul, on June 21, 2015. Massoud Hossaini—AP
international yoga day france
Hundreds of people attend a yoga session under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on June 21, 2015, in a mass yoga session to mark the first International Yoga Day. Thomas Samson—AFP/Getty Images
international yoga day seoul
A woman wearing a mask takes part in the International Yoga Day event in Seoul, South Korea, on June 21, 2015.Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images
International Day Yoga Almaty Kazakhstan
Participants attend the Yoga Fest to mark the International Day of Yoga at the Medeo skating rink in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 21, 2015.Shamil Zhumatov—Reuters
international yoga day china
Chinese students from Geely University take part in a yoga workshop marking the International Day of Yoga at an event in Beijing sponsored by the Government of India on June 21, 2015.Kevin Frayer—Getty Images
international yoga day times square new york
People practice yoga in Times Square as part of a Summer Solstice celebration on International Yoga Day in New York, on June 21, 2015. Eduardo Munoz—Reuters

Read next: 5 Things to Know About Modi’s Yoga Day Campaign

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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com