Solo performances, yoga at home mark International Yoga day in southern states

Chennai, June 21 (PTI) Solo performances, online and low- key events marked the sixth International Day of Yoga celebrations in the southern states on Sunday in the backdrop of COVID-19 curbs while leaders highlighted the importance of the ancient Indian practice for a healthy life.

The focus was on individual performances, events with adherence to social distancing norms and 'Yoga with family at home' as the governments organised low-key celebrations compared to the gala festivities in the past years.

Kerala government celebrated the day through an online platform based on the theme'Yoga with family at home'.

'Yoga is not just a physical exercise but also a scientificmental exercise... It's also a secular workout regime. Yoga and Ayurveda are two major contributions of India to the world and the government is committed to promoting it,' Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Inaugurating the'Yoga Day' jointly organised by the state AYUSH Department, National AYUSH Mission and Regional Outreach Bureau, he said the importance of yoga should be understood and effectively utilised to curb lifestyle diseases.

Health Minister K K Shailaja, who presided over the online event attended by over 300 people across the state, said immunity plays a very important role in protecting against COVID-19.

In Tamil Nadu, a rapid sequence of yogasanas for an hour on huge ice blocks and asanas with silambam, a traditional Tamil martial arts, were among the highlights.

The coronavirus pandemic did not appear to dampen the spirit of scores of yoga enthusiasts who observed the day while strictly maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks.

Yoga instructor Vijayakumar performed several asanas on huge ice blocks in Cuddalore as his students and a few onlookers watched the event in rapt attention.

In Dharmapuri, an agriculture graduate, who also conducts a coach centre for Sillambam, demonstrated that yoga can also be performed by holding a stick.

'I wanted to utilise the International Yoga Day to portray that our ancient martial arts of Silambam could also be used while performing yogasanas,' said Shanmugam, the Silambam exponent-cum-yoga enthusiast.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa stressed the importance of practicing yoga regularly as the former and several ministers shared pictures of them performing various asasnas.

Schools, parks, clubs and playgrounds in Bengaluru wore a deserted look, unlike in previous years, as people did not congregate there due to the restrictions.

In a tweet, Yediyurappa said Yoga is a gift from India to the world, which was handed down to us by our ancestors.

'We have to preserve Yoga and also need to practice it regularly to celebrate a strong, healthy and meaningful life', he said.

The Pantanjali Yoga Kendra members performed Yoga on the Parakala Math premises in Mysuru, maintaining social distancing.

Union Minister Pralhad Joshi too shared his photographs and Yoga Day message on Twitter, saying it helps in boosting immunity and is the most effective way to combat COVID-19.

In Telangana also, people and leaders, including ministers V Srinivas Goud and T Harish Rao, E Dayakar Rao and Government Chief Whip Dasyam Vinay Bhaskar, performed yogasanas in their homes and shared pictures on social media platforms while highlighting its importance for healthy life.

State BJP unit organised yoga programme at its office here where its President and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar led the party workers in performing various asanas.

A report from union territory of Puducherry said its Lt Governor Kiran Bedi greeted people 'a very happy transformative Yoga day.' In view of increasing COVID-19 cases in the union territory capital, the government could not organise any event, official sources said. PTI VGN GMS RRT VVK CORR VS VS