This Sunday marks the world’s first-ever International Yoga Day. Turkey, which has widely embraced this more than 6,000-year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice, will also celebrate this special day with a number of free outdoor events in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir
Mark your calendar because this Sunday, June 21, is the world's first International Yoga Day.
In December 2014, the U.N. General Assembly declared June 21 International Day of Yoga. The declaration came in response to a call by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who told the assembly: "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature [and] a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise, but to discover the sense of oneness within yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us [address] climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."
With India's wish granted, Turkey jumped on the bandwagon with a series of innovative events, some hosted by the Indian Embassy and Consulate, scheduled for this Sunday in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. So, I implore, what better way is there to celebrate this day than to go outside and join like-minded individuals at one of the many free outdoor events that will be held around Turkey on this first-ever International Yoga Day.
World Yoga Day in Maçka Park
The Şişli Municipality has teamed up with a number of yoga organizations and teachers to present a full day of yoga sessions and a variety of holistic practices as well as a series of talks in Istanbul's Maçka Demokrasi Park. The event will take place in the fountain area of this expansive park located smack dab in the middle of the transportation strongholds of Beşiktaş, Nişantaşı, Harbiye and Taksim. There is even a gondola system connecting Taksim to Maçka.
The park itself is an unknown gem to many, so if you have yet to pay a visit to this beautifully landscaped spot of respite in the city with grassy knolls, wooden benches, jogging paths and fountains, this is the perfect opportunity to do so while also checking out Istanbul's fervent yoga scene.
Yoga sessions and a variety of outdoor activities are usually held in this popular park over the weekend, when people in Istanbul flock on sunny days to meet friends in what has well become one of the most happening spots on a Sunday. Take the opportunity this Sunday to see this park reach a whole new level of energy with a full day of free yoga-inspired events from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The day will kick off with a yoga session by Om Yoga followed by an hour of Chi Gong. Yoga Evi presents Mantra Muzik and Mystic Dance before a break at noon. In the afternoon, Yoga Darga will run a breath work session followed by an hour of healing yoga. In the evening, there will be a "World Peace Meditation Hour" and a closing session of more yoga led by Harion Yoga.
Yoga in Tünel Square
For unique variety of events planned for this Sunday, head to Tünel Square off İstiklal Avenue in Taksim for a free outdoor yoga session from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. hosted by a number of yoga associations including Cihangir Yoga.
Yoga in Caddebostan
The Indian Consulate in Istanbul has joined forces with the Istanbul Yoga Center to host a special International Yoga Day event at the Türk Balıkadamlar Spor Kulübü in Caddebostan from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. An opening address will be delivered by Indian Consul General Manish Gupla, followed by yoga, breath work and meditation sessions.
Events in Ankara and İzmir
The Indian Embassy in Ankara will also hold a special event to celebrate International Yoga Day at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) Culture and Congress Center. Starting at 9:45 a.m. with an opening address by Indian Ambassador to Ankara Rahul Kulshreshth, there will also be a screening of the film "Aligning to the Source." The event also includes an Asana demonstration as well as a free outdoor yoga session followed by the opening of a special yoga-themed exhibition.
Yet another event for International Yoga Day in the capital is being held by the Turkish Sport For All Federation at the Ahlatlıbel Sosyal Tesisleri in Çankaya from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This same organization will also host an outdoor International Yoga Day celebration in İzmir's Gündoğdu Square on Sunday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Moreover, the Ege Yoga Association will hold a special event at the İzmir Fuar Kültürpark on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be a wide-range of yoga-related practices on the day, such as vinyasa, breathing work, yoga for beginners and yoga for children.
So, come one come all, whether you are a yoga enthusiast or a novice, get in your comfortable gear, grab a mat or a towel and head to one of these exciting events to commemorate this special day and the first International Yoga Day.
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