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India's PM Modi to Lead Mass Yoga Event

  • Reuters

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, both center, attend a taiji and yoga event at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing, China, May 15, 2015.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, both center, attend a taiji and yoga event at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing, China, May 15, 2015.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform yoga at a public event next month, part of his international drive to increase participation in the ancient Indian discipline.

Modi will practice physical poses and breathing control at the event on the country's main ceremonial avenue, in the capital New Delhi, on June 21, government and ruling party officials said.

The United Nations declared June 21 the first International Day of Yoga after adopting a measure proposed by the Modi government. Modi used his first speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September to call for such a day to be recognized.

Yoga lets people "discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature," Modi said at the time.

Modi is an enthusiastic practitioner of yoga. He sais he performs yoga exercises every day and credits them with giving him energy so he only needs a few hours sleep each night.

Promoting traditional medicines

In November, Modi appointed India's first minister to promote yoga and traditional medicines as he embarked on a mission to increase awareness about home-grown health treatments.

Modi also introduced a plan to allow government officials to practice yoga at work.

Police are drawing up security plans to manage the crowd at the event, which will take place on an avenue running between the presidential palace and a memorial arch called India Gate, said an interior ministry official.

Other senior politicians including Home Minister Rajnath Singh may join Modi in practicing yoga, an official with Modi's Bharitya Janata Party said.

Yoga is one of India most successful cultural exports. About 20 million people are estimated to regularly perform the exercises in the United States and they spend an annual $10 billion on classes and related products, a 2012 study by yogajournal.com found.

The former president of Modi's party, Murli Manohar Joshi, sparked an uproar in February when he said yoga could help reduce the number of rapes in India, according to remarks reported by NDTV television channel.

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