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International Yoga Day 2015 from Toronto (Canada)

The International Day Of Yoga, established at the unanimous resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly at the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was formally recognized across the Greater Toronto Area in Canada, on June 21st, 2015 at Celebration Square in Mississauga. The Board Members of the International Yoga Day which included Mr. Ajit Khanna and Dr. Bhalla, pursued other partners and the Brahma Kumaris joined hands with Art of Living, Overseas Volunteers for a Better India OVBI (Canada), Patanjali Yogpeeth, Ambika Yoga Kutir, BAPS, Isha Foundation and many others to host the inaugural event. Media partners included Rogers, ATN, Voice Newspaper and many other radio and TV stations. The mandate was to:

Celebrate International Yoga Day and provide a forum for like-minded people;
Educate the community about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness in today’s hectic world;
Promote and support healthy living through proper diet and positive mental health; and
Disseminate knowledge/information on various forms of yoga and their potential health benefits.

Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario in her message shared that in Ontario,we derive strength and vitality from our cultural and spiritual diversity. We speak every language, respect all faiths, welcome many traditions and have ties to every part of the world. Yoga, meditation and ayurvedic medicine are ancient traditions that India has shared with the world. Generations of Indian people have relied on these practices to promote physical health and spiritual well-being. Today, people of all ages and backgrounds all over the globe are discovering their benefits.

The Program started at 9:30 a.m. and went on till 2:00 p.m. There were short speeches from the Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and MP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, Hon. Dipika Damerla MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville and Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Consul General of India Mr. Akhilesh Mishra and several other MPs. They all emphasized the need to integrate yoga in our lives and felt that though yoga comes from Hinduism, the knowledge of yoga transcends any religion or culture. Its application is universal. There were words of praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the initiative.

Each group demonstrated their practice of yoga for 15 to 20 minutes, each leading the crowd of nearly 2000 people into yoga. It was a beautiful scene – people seated on their yoga mats or the bare grass and following the steps. The Brahma Kumaris was the only group that conducted meditation. Sister Shashi of London who happened to be in Toronto on service was the resource person and she gave an introduction to meditation and then led the audience into meditation together with 15 other yogis from the Brahma Kumaris Centre seated on the stage. Many groups had booths and the the Brahma Kumaris booth was very busy with people picking up flyers and registering for the free meditation course. There was definitely a lot of awareness created. A group of nearly 50 Bks attended and most also volunteered their services. It truly brought these many organizations/groups together and gave the opportunity for them to appreciate one another. A souvenir magazine was also printed and distributed carrying information about each participating organization and easy to follow yoga illustrations.

It was interesting to note that the expected thunder storm was pushed away with everyone’s determined positive thoughts andinstead it ended up being a really warm day.

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