24 June 2019

Liberia: International Yoga Day Observed in Monrovia

The Government of Liberia (GoL) and the Honorary Consulate General of India on Friday, June 21, 2019, held a joint program to commemorate this year's celebration of the International Day of Yoga, an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India.

The celebration was hosted under this year's theme, "Yoga for Climate Change."

The word 'yoga' derives from Sanskrit, and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness, but it is practiced in various forms nowadays around the world and continues to grow in popularity.

Recognizing its universal appeal, on December 11, 2014, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131 with the aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

The fifth annual International Day of Yoga was on Thursday, June 20, 2019, with "Yoga with Gurus," followed by a panel discussion on June, 21, 2019.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, who spoke before the exercise began, lauded the Government and People of India for maintaining the strong bond of friendship between Liberia and India.

Findley, on behalf of the Liberian government, pledged the West African nation's unflinching working relationship with the Government and People of India, including Indians living and working throughout Liberia.

"I want to, on behalf of President George Weah, congratulate you all as you celebrate this International Day of Yoga on our soil. We want to give you our support in whatever you do, especially as you go about celebrating this day," Mr. Findley assured the Indian Community.

He added, "I understand this practice is not just physical, but it deals with the mental and most beside, it is spiritual. Though I do not understand the spiritual aspect of the exercise, and so I can not speak on it, but I think it would be good if we stay mentally and physically fit at all times. This, in itself keeps us healthy as a people."

This year's Yoga Day, unlike all other celebrations, was spearheaded by a Liberian, Ms. Abigail Urey-Miller, who said Yoga has been a long time passion for her. "I have been practicing Yoga for more than 15 years," she said.

Ms. Miller, who was the yoga instructor of the day, made both Liberians and Indians, including Findley and the Honorary Indian Consul General to Liberia, Upjit Singh Sachdeva, do non-stressful acrobatic stretches, bend-overs, twists and movements of the body.

"It is good for your health, it builds the mind, and helps the brain, liver and other important parts of the body function well," she said.

According to Ms. Miller, Yoga is good for the protection of the body, helping people to have sound mind, good thinking and normal operations of various body parts.

Yoga, she also said it helps with proper circulation of oxygen through the body ensuring effective functioning of body parts.

Mr. Sachdeva then thanked the Liberian government for joining the Honorary Consulate General of Indian to host this year's International Day of Yoga.

Sachdeva said that on December 11, 2014, the 193-member UN General Assembly approved the proposal by consensus, with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries, including Liberia, and adopted a Resolution to establish June 21 of each year as International Day of Yoga.

The declaration of International Day of Yoga was prompted by an address to the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014 by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, in which he urged the World Community to adopt an International Day of Yoga.

Modi then suggested the date of June 21 as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.

But Mr. Sachdeva, who also participated in the exercises, underscored the importance of commemorating the day, saying Indians in Liberia are always happy to join the rest of their countrymen to celebrate the day.

He also said the day was celebrated under the auspices of Indian Ambassador residing in the Ivory Coast and the Consulate in Liberia.

Sachdeva said Indians, who are far away from home cannot allow the day to pass simply, because they are not home and therefore, the celebration in Liberia was meant to make Indians honor the day, which was had been declared by Prime Minister Modi.

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