Israel, where the ancient Indian spiritual practise of Yoga is very popular, marked the third International Yoga Day with special events across the country. Almost every form of Yoga has patrons in Israel but Ashtanga Yoga with 95 centres across the country is clearly the favourite. Vinyasa and Vijnana with more than fifty centres across the country rank among the next favourites. Special events were organised across the country in many pre-schools and schools to celebrate the occasion but the main event at the Rabin Square here coinciding with Yoga day on Wednesday drew record crowd with around 2,300 people participating in the Yoga session. Chen, a yoga teacher, told PTI that there are more than 1100 registered yoga teachers in Israel “which clearly shows its popularity in the country with a population of just over 8 million people”. At a festive event packed by cultural programmes hosted by the Indian mission in Israel on Wednesday, India’s envoy to Tel Aviv, Pavan Kapoor, told the participants that while the discipline originated in India but it is today “a common and intangible heritage of mankind”.
“Some say Yoga is so popular in Israel because of the level of stress and anxiety. It may be true to some extent but with so many kinds of yoga practiced in Israel and by all sorts of ages of people from pre-school to workplace yoga is an evidence of the fact that it is something that people have adopted as a part of life. It is something that has permeated the Israeli society,” Kapoor said. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin congratulated the participants at the 3rd International Yoga day in a message noting that as India and Israel celebrate 25 years of establishment of diplomatic relations, the popularity of yoga is yet another indicator of strengthening of bilateral ties.
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The gathered enthusiasts occupied fifteen hundred yoga mats, creating a 1,400 square metre artwork carved out of dreams of people depicting a colourful and prospective future Israel in the 100-year-old state in the year 2048. Amit Trainin, an illustrator and Professor at the Bezalel and Minshar art institutes, supported by two junior artists, designed the yoga mat painting inspired by the imagination of more than 500 people who submitted their vision of how Israel would look like after 100 years of independence.
The surprising element of the whole celebration was the enthusiasm seen at schools across the country. Several schools and kindergartens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem pointed out that Yoga lessons have been going on as a part of their afternoon arrangement for many years. Among many interesting facets of the Israeli Yoga scene is the new growing trend of pregnant women practising the ancient Indian discipline during the nine month period.
“By sheer coincidence I came to the yoga class for pregnant women after hearing about it from a friend. I was going through a tough first trimester and nothing seemed to work out for me. I cannot explain how Yoga helped me out of all the trouble. I have since become a regular practitioner,” said Adi.