Yoga has connected the world with India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday, as he rolled out his mat along with millions of others across the globe to celebrate the traditional practice.
In the western city of Ahmedabad around 125 000 enthusiasts gathered at an open-air ground to try to set a new record Guinness World record.
The session was led by celebrity yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who twisted into poses on stage next to the president of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah.
Yoga events are being held across more than 100 countries this week to mark the third International Yoga Day.
Modi held his masterclass in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, where the BJP stormed to power in March.
“Many countries which do not know our language, tradition, or culture, are now connecting to India through yoga,” Modi said in his address to a nearly 50 000-strong crowd.
“Yoga connects body, mind and soul. It is playing a big role in bringing the world together too,” he said after performing various poses despite an early morning drizzle.
From China’s Great Wall to the London Eye, yoga enthusiasts performed ‘asanas’, or poses, at major landmarks, hailing the ancient practice as a holistic way of life.
The United Nations headquarters lit up with images of poses, and across India, schoolchildren, soldiers, politicians and bureaucrats bent and twisted their bodies on colourful mats at mass outdoor sessions.
Television footage showed Indian soldiers performing yoga in their military overalls in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, situated at a height of 5 500m.