Over 500 people turned out to join First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones as he led celebrations to mark this year’s International Yoga Day at a free event hosted at the National Indoor Athletics Centre, Cardiff.

Organised by the Honorary Consul of India for Wales, Raj Aggarwal OBE, yoga enthusiasts and novices, friends and family alike were all invited to join the event to celebrate the 5,000 year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice which originated in Northern India.

The International day of Yoga was celebrated with great enthusiasm at the National Indoor Athletic centre, Cardiff. A video message for the event from the Indian Prime Minister , Shri Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Union Minister of State, Ministry of Ayush, Shri Shirpad Naik were shown on a large screen to the huge gathering. The event included demonstrations by expert Yoga Practitioners and participation  by the audience. Fruit and bottled water was made available for the attendees.

Indian Prime Minister Modi said:

Crowned beauty queens Miss Wales, Miss Swansea and Miss Newport all joined in with the day's celebrations
Crowned beauty queens Miss Wales, Miss Swansea and Miss Newport all joined in with the day’s celebrations

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment – harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.

In Suggesting June 21 – the summer solstice – as the International Day of Yoga, Mr. Narendra Modi added:

“The date is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.”

Recognising its universal appeal and following this address, in December 2014, the United Nations declared June 21 International Yoga Day and it was observed globally for the first time last year.  Over 175 nations co-sponsored the resolution – the highest number to ever co-sponsor such a resolution.

Speaking about his support for the event, the First Minister said:

“Yoga is not only a great way for people to keep fit and healthy, it also helps focus the mind and allows people to relax and unwind from the stresses and strains of modern life.

“I am pleased to take part in this global event to celebrate the 5000 year-old practice of yoga, which originated in North India. Wales has a strong relationship with India and I have been fortunate to visit the vast and beautiful country many times in recent years as we continue to develop our valued business ties.”

Honorary Consul of India for Wales, Raj Aggarwal added:

“We were delighted that the First Minister, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and various other dignitaries could join us to celebrate International Yoga Day – a great opportunity for Cardiff and Wales as a whole to join the world in celebrating this timeless practice, which can be enjoyed by all; young or old, it does not discriminate and promotes respect for fellow human beings and the planet.

“The message prior to the event was that all were welcome, and we were delighted to have so many people join us in celebration!”