Sunday 19th June 2016.

Some 250 ‘yogis’ gathered at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury today to celebrate the second annual International Yoga Day. With Yoga being so synonymous with strength and flexibility as well as boosting mental and emotional peace and wellbeing, the event was used to honour the innocent victims of recent hate-crimes; the mass shootings in Orlando exactly a week ago, and the more recent murder of MP, Jo Cox. A short minute silence was held at the end of the Yoga session to reflect on these horrific events and pray of peace and tolerance.

Yoga is a holistic approach to wellbeing and complementary to traditional or western medicine. Many credible studies have shown its effectiveness in alleviating a wide range of mental and physical, mental and emotional problems, as well reducing the risk factors associated with a wide range of illnesses and conditions.

In explaining the full benefits of Yoga, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj states, “In order to succeed in life, your body and mind need to be healthy and pure…Controlling the senses and mind is an art”.

Student Niki Sanghani attended the yoga session and cited “Yoga energised my physical, mental and spiritual state, helping me to focus on my revision and function at my best during my exams. I was truly inspired at how relaxed and tranquil the session today left me.”

Both young and old, with participants aged from 7 to 70, were instructed through a routine of Peksha Meditation and Yoga, learning about the many physical and mental benefits of this ancient practice. Regular Yoga practitioner and Osteopath, Amit Vekaria explained, “Yoga promotes overall fitness, both of the mind and body. It benefits the immune systems and regulates the functions of all the body’s organs. It’s great to see so many people of all ages abilities here today, and hopefully some of them will be inspired to take up Yoga on a regular basis.

I never thought that Yoga would be so exercising – I was out of breath just halfway in! I’m really feeling the benefits of today’s session and really enjoyed the backdrop of this beautiful temple. It’s really sold me on Yoga”, enthused Mukund Patel, one of the many locals trying Yoga for the first time.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj is renowned around the world for His simple message of universal peace, brotherhood and tolerance. And so it is apt that today’s event was used in such prayer.

As the session drew to a close, Trustee Mahesh Varsani led the prayers and tributes, and cited Jo Cox’s own word, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”, to reflect on the tragic events of the past week.