Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today led over 50,000 yoga enthusiasts in performing 'asanas' here amid showers on the International Yoga Day as he underlined the importance of the ancient practice in connecting India with the world and promoting wellness.
Yoga, he stressed, has the power of health insurance at zero cost. "We can save the people from many problems if 1.25 billion countrymen achieve this through healthy body, mind and intelligence," he said.
"The speciality of yoga is keeping the mind stable...it teaches the art of living with a healthy mind amidst the ups and downs of life," said Modi, visibly happy with the heavy turnout at the sprawling Rambai Ambedkar Maidan despite inclement weather since early morning.
"Today yoga has become a part of common man's life. There are many countries which do not know our language, traditions or culture but the entire world is getting connected with us because of yoga," said 66-year-old Modi, who was attired in a white T-shirt and loose trousers.
Amids chants of 'Modi-Modi', the Prime Minister said yoga, which connects body with mind and intelligence, is today playing an important role in connecting the whole world.
Recalling as to how the United Nations gave its nod for the International Yoga Day, he said there might not be any country where yoga-related programmes are not held or attraction or awareness towards it has not grown.
Along with Modi, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several dignitaries performed various yogic asanas.
Stressing on the relevance of yoga in employment too, the prime minister said yoga institutes have come up in large numbers in the past three years and demand for yoga teachers has also grown.
"Youth are preparing themselves in yoga institutes, accepting yoga as a profession...there is a demand for yoga teachers in all the countries...a new job market is being created through yoga in which the people of India get top priority," he pointed out.
"Unlike the earlier times when people used to practice yoga as per their own ways, there is now an effort both in the country and outside to perform yoga in a scientific manner by standardising it," he said, adding that once it was only performed by the "munis and rishis" in the caves of Himalayas.
"UNESCO has given nod to yoga as the heritage of human culture...today in many states of the country yoga has been adopted as part of their education so that future generations get apprised of this science of ours to help it become the part of their lives," he said.
Speaking on the benefits of yoga, Modi said the importance of wellness is more than being healthy and fitness and yoga is an easy way to acquire this wellness.
"There is no question mark on yoga anywhere in the world...yoga has been evolving with time and generations and it has been developing...on this important occasion, I urge people of the world to make yoga a part of their lives...whether we become masters of yoga or not, achievers or not, but we need to become its practitioners...," Modi said.
The prime minister, who is himself a yoga enthusiast, stressed that those who start practicing it realise that their body parts have become supple and that they have become active.
"We do not require any special power to understand this," he stressed.
Drawing a comparison with salt to underline the importance of yoga, Modi said though salt is needed only in small quantity and is easily available, it is vital not only for taste but also for the body.
"If there is no salt in the food the whole day, it not only spoils the taste but also harms the body...it is used only in small quantity, no one can negate its importance in the body's constitution or its requirement...we can have the same place for yoga as salt in life," he said.
Modi said there was no need to perform yoga round-the- clock as only 50 to 60 minutes are enough.
In a lighter vein, Modi said yoga enthusiasts at the Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan were not only spreading a message that yoga is important in life, but they were also demonstrating as to how yoga mats could be used to protect them from rain.
"People of Lucknow have turned up despite rains...your effort is praiseworthy," he said referring to people taking cover under yoga mats to save themselves from the downpour.
A tight security cordon was thrown around venue and all arterial roads were under strict CCTV vigil.
Three years ago, Modi had persuaded the United Nations to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
Since then, thousands of people have held yoga programmes across the world on this day.