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For the First Time, Indian Embassy in Cairo organises Yoga Championship in Egypt

Yoga not as exercise but as an art form is reaching millions from East to West and now to East again

  • The First Yoga Championship in Cairo was held on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan on June 5
  • The youngest Yoga practitioner at the Championship was six years old, and the oldest was 71 years old
  • The Yoga Schools teach different types of Yoga, especially hatha yoga and meditation
In the run-up to the International Day of Yoga, the Embassy of India and the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture played host to a first of its kind Yoga Championship in Cairo on June 5, 2016. The event took place against the backdrop of the Nile in the lush green lawns of the Embassy.
The Yoga Championship was a landmark event in an Arab country and saw the participation of more than 35 highly proficient Egyptian and foreign Yoga enthusiasts. The youngest Yoga practitioner at the Championship was six years old, and the oldest was 71 years old. The participants were divided into four categories — under 18 years, 18-30 years, 30-45 years and above 45 years. Each contestant performed ten basic and five advanced asanas to the tune of Indian music and chanting and loud cheers from the audiences.

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India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya and Second Secretary (Culture) & Acting Director, Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture Rakesh Kawra. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya welcomed the growing number of Yoga practitioners in Egypt and said, “The essence of Yoga is to start from the level of one’s capacities and to strive continuously for higher levels of accomplishment.”

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The First Yoga Championship in Cairo was held on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan. Dr Prabhakar Medhikar, one of the three jury members of Yoga Championship said, “The successful conduct of the event on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan is a proof of the appreciation, acceptance and adoption of the Indian way of living a natural and healthy life of universal love, peace and harmony.”

Another jury member Ms Amira Fahmy extolled the virtues of Yoga. She said, “The First Yoga Championship is making history in Egypt. There is a tremendous potential for organising this Championship in future. The Yoga Sessions could be organised in schools as well. It will help schoolchildren become responsible humans.” Dr Bharat Singh was the third jury member.

Yashmine Hashem, one of the participants, said, “It was a beautiful day, and all of us had fun. Winning or losing was not the idea. The biggest takeaway for us was allowing others to inspire us to do our best.”

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A participant. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo

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Although the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture had started the formal teaching of Yoga way back in the Nineties, the growing popularity of Yoga could be credited to the first International Day of Yoga held in the Egyptian Capital last year. The number of Yoga Schools has grown three-fold in Cairo and today there are around 40 such centres.
The Yoga Schools teach different types of Yoga, especially hatha yoga and meditation, and maintain close contacts with Dr Bharat Singh, who has been providing Yoga lessons to more than 170 students in each term. They also form a bridge between Egypt and India and many of the Yoga students visit India for advanced lessons.  Recently, two Yoga teachers were sent to New Delhi for advanced training under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC).

A yoga pose with a background of the event
A yoga pose with a background of the event. Image source: Indian Embassy, Cairo

The Embassy of India is also conducting the ‘Yoga in Egypt’ Photography Contest. It is open for all Egyptians nationals, and resident non-Egyptians as well. A maximum of two entries per person is allowed, and the deadline for receiving the entries is June 12, 2016.
The 10 best-selected photographs will then qualify for a Facebook competition. The best three entries will be judged on the basis of the number of ‘Likes’ which will have 50% weightage, and remaining weightage will be for the score given by an independent jury.
The best three entries and the winners of the First Yoga Championship will be awarded medals, certificates and prizes on the International Day of Yoga at the Al-Azhar Park. Given the growing popularity of yoga in Egypt, preparations are underway to host the International Day of Yoga 2016 events in Alexandria and Ismailia as well.
– by Shillpi A Singh, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She may be reached at: shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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