International Day of Yoga 2023: Enthusiastic Celebrations throughout Houston

IDY 2023 yoga session at Sugar Land Town Square was organized by the Hindu Swayam Sevak organization. Photo credit: Adit Nigam

By Vijay Pallod

HOUSTON: Houston has been celebrating International Day of Yoga for 9th year. This year, the participation extended to more than 25 organizations, including several that joined for the first time. Five of the events took place in open grounds. Even though weather was very hot, large number of people participated from both the Indo-American community and the mainstream community at large.

Yoga means to join or unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. It is a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. Health experts say Yoga improves strength and flexibility. Yoga originated in ancient India as a physical, mental, and spiritual practice. It has been celebrated worldwide since 2015 following its inception by the United National General Assembly at the suggestion of Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.

FB County Commissioner Andy Meyers hosted an IDY session at Telfair.

Downtown Houston celebrated IDY 2023 on Wednesday, June 21 on the lush green landscape of Discovery Green. Event Chair Saumil Manek explained, “International Day of Yoga symbolizes Peace and Harmony. I’m truly honored to be organizing an event representing love to everyone without boundaries and building bridges so we can unite
to create all cultures.”

“In the past, a majority of participants were of Indian origin. This year, less than 20 percent of participants were of Indian origin,” said Vijay Pallod, a principal volunteer. “Every year, more and more non-Indians are participating.
Next year, we are planning to have one session in Spanish.”

Representatives of various Yoga practicing organizations at the Discovery Green IDY session.

“We had 25 IDY practice sessions to commemorate IDY 2023. With the theme of Yoga for Humanity and Vasudhaiv
Kutumbakam to align India’s presidency for G-20, we tried to touch all areas of Houston Metro so all friends of Yoga can join these events in their town/neighborhood,” said Sharad Amin Houston
coordinator. “I would like to thank organizers of all events and participants and request to do better next year by bigger participation. Another Historical event in parallel on June 21st was at the United Nations Headquarters,
where Prime Minister Modi-led yoga celebration created Guiness World Record for the participation of people of most nationalities..”

IDY session at India House

Swasth Yoga conducted “Chair Yoga for Seniors” at various places in collaboration with various temples and organizations to celebrate IDY. Chair yoga is an easily accessible form of yoga and is a low-impact method of moving and stretching the body. Along with the benefits of general yoga and it helps to slow down aging effects, helping to lessen the pain associated mainly with age-related health problems. Chair yoga, while focusing on strengthening
and stretching it also incorporates mindfulness, breathing techniques, and relaxation. — Meena Kankani with Swasth Yoga.

IDY at Hindu Temple of Woodlands

Sri MTS Treaurer Dr. Al Alagappan explained, “We celebrated the International Day of Yoga at Sri Meenakshi Temple Society on June 25th Sunday at 10:30 am at our regular monthly Aarogya club meeting which was started
as a health initiative last May 2022 with a focus on Mind, Body and Soul. It’s always nice to see how IDY gets all of
us energized.

“Our temple has been a pioneer in giving free yoga classes since 2013. This year we had an IDY event on Saturday, June 24th morning followed by workshop on Yoga for Pain Management,” explained Nita Hiray of Hindu Temple of the Woodlands

Other participating organizations have sent their comments on the IDY events at their premises.

“SVYASA Houston has actively involved with more than 10 International Yoga Day events in Houston and has provided Yoga instructors & teacher.” — Vishwarup, Director Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana

“It was our first-ever interaction with Katy City Council, Mayor and all members. We presented IDY details to Katy
city officials during the city meeting. They appreciated the presentation and suggested that we can host our event
at Katy City Park. This was our first event organized in Katy City. It is our first of a kind where about 20 kids of all school ages participated,” — Pradeep Sharma, HSS Katy

A chair yoga session for seniors was held at Gujarati Samaj of Houston (GSH).

Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers and about 100 residents celebrated International Yoga Day at Telfair Grounds on Saturday, June 24, 2023. Commissioner Meyers took part in the session as professionally certified yoga instructors led participants through an hour-long workout that started at 8 a.m. “It was a wonderful event that celebrated an international practice widely used by many County residents,” Meyers said. “I was pleased to participate with so many neighbors. It was hot, but we had a great time!”

Sr. Mind-Body Intervention Specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center Smitha Mallaiah told participants that Yoga is India’s gift to the world. “Yoga enhances self-awareness, mindfulness, and emotional well-being, leading to greater empathy and compassion and promoting social harmony, peace, and sustainable living. Yoga is a practice that is not limited to one day,” Mallaiah said.