21:23 GMT +317 January 2018
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    Thousands of New Yorkers are marking the first day of summer by practicing yoga in Times Square

    India's Soft Power: Yoga Day Witnesses Enhanced Participation Globally

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    The second International Day of Yoga has witnessed significantly enhanced participation in virtually all member countries of UN barring Yemen.

    India's effort to popularize yoga across the world as a tool to a healthy way of life is showing encouraging signs. Indian missions and posts commenced activities from June 18 onwards with some countries organizing an entire week named Yoga week.

    According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, messages of endorsement were received from several leaders, including the Prime Minister of Australia and Cambodia, the President of Israel and the Duke of Cambridge.

    Yoga demonstrations were held in several iconic locations around the world, including London Bridge and the Shard in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Times Square in New York, the Angor Vat in Cambodia, Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Kings Garden in Copenhagen, Palais des Nations in Geneva, the Opera House in Sydney, the Burj al Arab in Dubai and the Great Wall in China.

    In Russia, Yoga Day was celebrated in 300 locations in more than 70 regions around the country. Jakarta, Bali, Colombo, Kandy, Dhaka, Islamabad, Mandalay, Ho Chi Min City, Victoria Mahe, Dubai, Bahrain, Baghdad, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Johannesburg, Ashgabat, Astana, Bishkek and Tashkent also witnessed record participation.

    Many foreign government leaders and dignitaries, including the Minister of Health of Turkmenistan, Minister of Tourism of Gambia, Members of Parliament in UK and the Attorney General of Mandalay attended Yoga Day events along with mayors and other administrative heads of cities.
    Several local celebrities joined events such as Senegalese singer Ms. Adiouza, Australian ultra-marathoner Pat Farmer and UK diaspora champion Priti Patel.

    In Spain, Yoga week was celebrated in conjunction with the IIFA awards in which Bollywood stars participated in large numbers.
    Yoga gurus Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev led the yoga events in European Parliament and UN New York respectively.

    The United Nations building in New York was lit up with Yoga poses in support of Yoga for meeting the sustainable development goals.

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