COVID restrictions permitting, grand plan for thousands to experience yoga across S Africa next month

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Johannesburg, May 6 (PTI) If COVID-19 restrictions permit it, thousands of South Africans are expected to join International Day of Yoga (IDY) celebrations across the country next month.

Among the plans are arrangements to match the 4,000 attendance at the iconic Wanderers Stadium here at IDY in 2019.

There was no celebration in 2020 as the country was in full lockdown.

Consul General for India in Johannesburg Anju Ranjan announced this at a preview for the media and a few select guests on Tuesday, when the guests were led in yoga exercises by a few prominent yoga school teachers.

'It was started after 150 countries supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal at the UN that 21 June be adopted as IDY, and now every community all over the world has incorporated yoga into their lifestyle,” Ranjan said, as she recalled how during her previous posting in the UK, she found almost every gym having yoga facilities.

'This year, since the South African government has put us under (the lowest) level one of the lockdown; I hope that it will remain so in June. Based on that assumption, we have planned IDY with the theme ‘Yoga for All’ in all provinces of South Africa,” she said.

Ranjan said they have already identified agencies and have eminent yoga teachers who will participate, including in a month-long workshop promoting yoga in the communities.

She said extensive media campaigns would also be undertaken.

'I am keeping my fingers crossed for our flagship IDY event at Wanderers Stadium to be the Grand Finale,” she said.

With the indigenous communities having taken to yoga in a big way since IDY was first taken to their areas, events are planned for the huge Black townships of Soweto and Alexandra in Gauteng province as well.

Major cities in three other provinces are also on the radar, and any other places that might come up in the next month would also be included, Ranjan said.

'We want to start a train-the-trainer programme so that yoga practices can be continued throughout the year. This is the soft power that India has to offer to the world for a healthy lifestyle,” Ranjan added.

The 84-year-old Sivananda School of Yoga in Johannesburg pledged full support to the plans of the Consulate.

Yoga teacher Nicci Niselow explained how she had started a special school where yoga is used for people with special needs and disabilities, including children with Attention Deficit Disorder and paraplegics adults.

'I am therefore looking forward to bringing very special people to IDY this year,” Niselow said. PTI FH SNE SNE