Wednesday January 24, 2018

Celebrating the Spirit of Yoga: To mark International Yoga Day, Indian Embassy in Cairo organises Yoga at a park

The second International Day of Yoga coincided with the holy month of Ramadan and both of them celebrates the same spiritual aspirations of people

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A woman practicing yoga. Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
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The Indian Embassy in Cairo played host to the second International Day of Yoga at the scenic Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016. The historical monuments — the minarets of famous mosques and the iconic Saladin Citadel — formed the perfect backdrop for the event that was held after Iftaar during the holy month of Ramadan.
It saw a participation of more than 1,500 yoga enthusiasts including politicians, businessmen, diplomats, media persons and members of the Indian community. Imaj Hassan Ahmed, Miss Earth Egypt 2015, was the chief guest of the event.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
Highlighting the importance of the day that was celebrated on June 21 in 193 countries around the world, India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said, “Yoga is India’s gift to humanity and in just a year’s time, it has gained immense popularity in the Land of Pyramids. The second International Day of Yoga coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, and they both promote the same spiritual aspirations of people.”
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He added that the holy month calls for self-control, spiritual development and aims at attaining peace of mind. “These concepts are in line with the core principles of yoga to achieve peace through meditation and self-discipline,” Bhattacharyya said.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
As a thoughtful gesture, the Indian Embassy had scheduled the celebration in the evening as most people fast during the day. Organising the event after dusk saw the participation of Indians, Egyptians and other foreigners in large numbers.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga was ‘Connect the Youth’. In tune with it, more than 400 school children, 40 yoga instructors and their students participated in the event and presented a  special performance based on yoga asanas. Even regular visitors of the park enthusiastically joined in the celebration.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
A local music group performed a few instrumental songs that opened the spectacular event on Tuesday evening, June 21. The yoga instructors took turns in conducting a variety of meditation and exercise sessions to enthral those present at the venue. The Ambassador delivered the welcome address; it was followed by the chief guest’s speech. In her address, Miss Earth Egypt 2015 said, “Yoga has become popular all over the world because of its benefits. It helps us improve our behaviour towards ourselves and nature as well.”
The Common Yoga Protocol was played in Arabic, and all the participants enthusiastically performed yoga asanas. There were also many other activities including yoga dance, group yoga, circle yoga, advanced yoga, meditation, and cultural performances as part of the celebration.

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Ahmed Darwish, Chairman of the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone, told that he is a recent convert to yoga and but though he is a late starter, he is a sincere practitioner.
In the run up to the second International Day of Yoga, the Indian Embassy had conducted an online photography competition titled “Yoga in Egypt”. A first-ever yoga championship was also organised by the Indian Embassy on June 5, 2016, under four categories, with the age of participants ranging from 4 to 72 years. The winners of the two competitions were awarded prizes during the event at Al-Azhar Park on June 21, 2016.
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Photo credit: Mona Abdel Karim
The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) in Cairo has been conducting yoga classes since 1993. But in the past few years, yoga has become quite popular in Egypt, and many gyms, clubs and organisations have started conducting yoga classes. The number of yoga schools in Egypt has increased threefold in the last one year, from 14 to 40. The growing popularity was reflected in the participation and support of a vast number of people at the International Day of Yoga event.
In addition to the ‘Yoga at the Park’ event held in Cairo, the Indian Embassy is organising such celebrations in two other Egyptian cities — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — to mark the occasion.
Two more events — ‘Yoga by the Suez Canal’ in Ismailia on June 23 and ‘Yoga at the Beach’ in Alexandria on June 25 — will be held to celebrate the occasion

-by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She can be contacted at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Wow! Yoga in Cairo. There should be a twist with a little bit of their traditional dance moves 🙂

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Yoga Face-toning May Compete With Fillers, Face-lifts

"The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of aging," he said in an email.

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Yoga face toning is an effective way of reducing the signs of ageing. VOA
  • Yoga face toning may take over botox and face lifting procedures.
  • 27 participants noted changes in their faces after weeks of this experiment.
  • It is still a matter of discussion if this method can reverse ageing or not.

In his toolbox of Botox, fillers and plastic surgery, cosmetic dermatologist Dr Murad Alam has added a new, low-cost, noninvasive anti-ageing treatment: facial yoga.

Dermatologists measured improvements in the appearance of the faces of a small group of middle-aged women after they did half an hour of daily face-toning exercises for eight weeks, followed by alternate-day exercises for another 12 weeks.

Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay
Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay

The results surprised lead author Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“In fact, the results were stronger than I expected,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s really a win-win for patients.”

Participants included 27 women between 40 and 65, though only 16 completed the full course. It began with two 90-minute muscle-resistant facial exercise-training sessions led by co-author Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island.

Participants learned to perform cheek pushups and eye-bag removers, among other exercises. Then they practised at home.

Improvements noted

Dermatologists looking at unmarked before-and-after photos saw improvements in upper cheek and lower cheek fullness, and they estimated the average age of women who stuck with the program as significantly younger at the end than at the start.

Face yoga is a healthier substitute to surgical procedures. Pixabay
Face yoga is a healthier substitute for surgical procedures. Pixabay

The average estimated age dropped almost three years, from nearly 51 years to 48 years.

Participants also rated themselves as more satisfied with the appearance of their faces at the study’s end, Alam and colleagues reported in JAMA Dermatology.

“Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of ageing,” Alam said. “Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way of looking younger or augmenting other cosmetic or anti-ageing treatments they may be seeking.”

The exercises enlarge and strengthen facial muscles to firm and tone the face, giving it a younger appearance, he said.

Happy Face sells instructional worksheets — promising smoother skin, firmed cheeks and raised eyelids — for $19.95. DVDs cost $24.95.

Some skepticism

But not all dermatologists are rushing to promote the videos or the exercises.

Dr John Chi, a plastic surgeon and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, said the study raises more questions than it answers.

“The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of ageing,” he said in an email.

Chi, who was not involved with the study, said he would recommend facial yoga to patients who found it relaxing and enjoyable but not for the purpose of facial rejuvenation.

“While the premise of facial exercises to improve the facial appearance or reverse signs of ageing is an appealing one, there is little evidence to suggest that there is any benefit in this regard,” he said.

Chi said facial yoga had not been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Asked whether procedures such as face-lifts, Botox and fillers had been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed studies, he replied: “Great question. Attempts to do so have been made in the scientific literature with variable levels of scientific rigour.”

Alam agrees that his study raises additional research questions, such as whether the exercises would work for men and how much time people need to commit to doing the exercises for them to be optimally effective. He would like to see a larger study. VOA