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Millions celebrate Yoga Day in India

People all across India, including Prime Minister Modi, have gathered at mass yoga sessions to take part in the second International Yoga Day. Practitioners around the world also celebrated in Sydney, Kabul and New York.

All across India, students, politicians, sailors and soldiers twisted, bended and breathed together at large outdoor sessions for the second International Yoga Day on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to the mat on Tuesday with a crowd of 30,000 schoolchildren and residents in the northern city of Chandigarh.

"Yoga Day has become a people's mass movement unlike any other," Modi told the crowd. He urged people to make the ancient practice, which began in India, a part of their lives.

"With zero budget, yoga provides health assurance and it does not discriminate between rich and poor," Modi said.

India's ministers also attended mass

yoga sessions

around the country. In the capital New Delhi, more than 100,000 people performed yoga with Guru Ramdev, setting a record for the largest congregation for yoga practice, reported IANS news agency.

Namaste around the world

Sessions were also held in 191 countries around the world, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said. At the Sydney Opera House in Australia, colorful mats were spread around the outside of the Australian landmark.

Large celebrations also took place in Afghanistan, Nepal, Great Britain, and the United States.

Last year, the United Nations declared June 21st International Day of Yoga to coincide with the summer solstice.

Various yoga poses were projected on the UN world headquarters in New York City to emphasize the role yoga can play in helping the UN achieve its sustainable development goals.

Indian scholars have traced the practice of yoga back some 5,000 years based on poses found inscribed on stones as well as references to Yogic teachings in the Vedas, the ancient Hindu scriptures.

Many credit the practice as a helpful way of

calming the mind,

relieving stress,

and staying fit.

rs/kl (AP, AFP, dpa)

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