"We are happy for the way Yoga has taken off in Turkey. Some so many people have taken on Yoga, accepted and welcomed it. This is absolutely phenomenal," said Sanjay Panda, India's ambassador to Turkey.
Marking the International Day of Yoga, India's embassy in Ankara coordinated yoga events all over the country for five days in 46 hotels.
"This is once in a year yoga day, but this year it is a little more special because we are doing it as part of the launch of India at 75 that is to mark the 75 years of independence of India. It is actually in 2022, but we have the celebrations starting from this year till August 23.
"So this the launch of that event, so we have yoga day celebrated during this entire week, starting from Istanbul, Ankara, Mersin and Cappadocia. So for five days in 46 hotels in Turkey, yoga events are being celebrated," Panda told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
The ambassador stated that Yoga is something that synthesizes the body and the mind, he emphasized their tagline and said Yoga is for health and wellness, which was even more important during the coronavirus.
"UN has designated 21st June as the international day of yoga, so today we had the UN resident coordinator here, it was a very restrictive event which we had today with all social distancing, but the idea was to convey the message that yoga is something which is a part of our health and wellbeing and we should continue to do this and it should catch on," he noted.
Panda emphasized that they will keep on having the events although last year's event was muted event due to the virus, this year's event hosted 50 to 60 people within the social distancing rules.
"Indian embassy has a yoga center with almost 200 people enrolled, but of course during coronavirus, we had to stop it, but we will start all over again as things get better," the ambassador noted.
"There are, however, still some confusion on Yoga being a religious practice; however, it has nothing to do with religion. Yoga actually brings humanity together, so everybody does it for health and wellness and everything about it has got a scientific basis. When you do the breathing exercises, it actually helps during the situation of COVID-19. I have not heard a yoga practitioner who had the virus," he said.
Panda stated that the embassy had organized an event on June 21 in Istanbul called the Yoga by the Bosphorus, he said that the event took place right above the water on a floating tennis court with Istanbul's mayor Ekrem Imamoglu joining them.
"I was thrilled to see the youngsters in their twenties so enthusiastic," he added.
- Yoga more beneficial during pandemic
Bahar Demirtola, a Yoga instructor who led the yoga session in the embassy, said that she finds Yoga very useful and beneficial for her body and mind breathing patterns, especially during these pandemic days.
"I have been to India through the Indian embassy and I have had a scholarship as a yoga instructor. I started attending Yoga with the instructor who was brought to Ankara from India, but once he went back to his country these days, we practice on our own. I have been working with the embassy for five years now," Demirtola said.
She noted that in Turkey for the past ten years, people have been very interested in Yoga and that it is becoming famous day by day as people have understood the benefits of it.
"My advice for beginners, Some people think Yoga is not for them. I disagree with this because it is most likely they are not with a suitable yoga instructor. Because Yoga is for every 'body,'" she added.