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Indian Embassy hosts first yoga festival in Lagos

Devotees at a yoga session


It was all thrills and funfair as the Indian Embassy in Nigeria marked the first ever yoga festival at its Embassy House, Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, to the admiration of Nigerians, who attended the event. The Indo-Naija Yoga Fest was an initiative of Afro-Asian community for development, berthed to spread the importance and health benefits of the ancient sport.The festival also featured yoga competition, demonstration, education and open forum.

According to the convener of the festival, who is also president of Afro-Asian community, Sanjay Vipul Srivastava, “yoga, a form of mind-body exercise, has become an increasingly widespread therapy deployed to maintain wellness and alleviate a range of health problems and ailments. He said yoga offers an effective method of managing and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, adding that numerous studies demonstrate the efficacy of yoga on mood-related disorders.

On reasons why the festival was celebrated for the first time in the country and why Nigerians should embrace yoga, Srivastava said, “There are so many good things about Nigeria. Nigerian youths are very talented and strong physically, able to compete in any sport. Introducing Yoga will be an addition to what they already knew. We have been doing community services on health, education and that is where the thought came in that people can also benefit a lot from Yoga. And I think the festival will strengthen our cultural ties.”

On the negative perception about yoga, he said, “Yoga as an activity has been in existence for more than 10,000 years and cherished by the Indians. It has nothing to do with religion, caste system but a pure culture.” The attendant of about 400 Nigerians alongside with 15 other nationalities living in Lagos including diplomats of various countries to the maiden edition of the Fest means Nigerians are ready to embrace yoga.Sanjayvipul added that, “We decided to celebrate Christmas by reintroducing Yoga to Nigerians because it offers an effective method of managing and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and numerous studies demonstrate the efficacy of yoga on mood-related disorders”.

With Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Trade and Industry recognising Yoga as a ‘sports activities’ for its health benefits, yoga is now fast-gaining uncommon popularity. Aside the physical benefits, one of the best motivations for yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind.

“Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” Srivastava said, adding that yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental wellbeing. “Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centres attention, and sharpens concentration.”

The General Secretary of Indo-Naija Yoga Fest 2017, Pravin Kumar, said, “The festival was a great success and I am happy that Nigerians not only welcomed but embraced our thoughts on yoga, which was the sole purpose of the event. We want to promote yoga to families and encourage it in the country. We want Nigerians to start their day with yoga, which does not take more than 20 minutes a day, which anyone can easily spare for it.”

Yoga demonstration started with the lighting of a ceremonial lamp and prayer for the world’s health and prosperity. Yoga Competition was adjudged by way of performance to reach the final stage of Asana, perfect posture of ‘Asana,’ exhibition of ‘Asana’ Method, time stayed in ‘Asana’ and returning to original posture.

On his part, founder of Light Year Entertainment, Precious Oroye, said, “Lagosians seem to be excited about the fest. “Yoga is also found within the Nigerian cultural context” and has become an increasingly widespread therapy method used to maintain wellness, and alleviate a range of health problems and ailments.

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