ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Yoga experts joined practitioners and newcomers to stretch and breathe during the capital city’s celebration of the world’s first International Yoga Day.
Around the globe, yoga fans marked International Yoga Day in almost 200 countries. The event, recognized by the United Nations, took place June 21, the longest day of the year.
A yoga practice session with four instructors on stage and one going around helping people was the centerpiece of the day.
Migbar Ayalew, a certified international yoga instructor, explained the importance of the breath.
“What is the first thing we do when we come to this world?” she asked. “We breathe in. What is the last thing we do when we leave this world? We breathe out. So the breath is the most important thing in our lives.”
Participants do yoga exercises at the International Yoga Day in Addis Ababa. (YJI)
The five-hour event in Ethiopia, organized by the Embassy of India, took place at the Hilton Addis Ababa and began with a video message about yoga from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Later, participants viewed other short videos about yoga and its history. Raffle prizes for non-Indians included a trip to
India and meals at a local Indian restaurant.
A writing contest with the prize being a trip to India, sought the best quote, slogan or feeling expressed in answer to the questions,” What does yoga mean to you?” and “How does the UN’s recognition to yoga contribute?”
After the yoga session ended, people handed out International Yoga Day magazines and CDs with subtitles in Amharic, the national language in Ethiopia. Local yoga institutes had booths with sign-up sheets for yoga sessions.
Organizers provided yogurt, Indian sweets and vegetable stews, fruit, small sandwiches, tea, milk and water outside of the hall for participants, who seemed happy, motivated and energized after their yoga session.
Dawit Leake is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
Practicing yoga in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for International Yoga Day. (YJI)
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