More than a hundred people sat still on their mats, waiting for the yoga instructors in front to start the session. The sky was a little gloomy, but more than getting scared of the looming downpour, the absence of the scorching heat of the sun was more of a welcome relief.
A calming music started to play on the background, and then the International Day of Yoga in Phnom Penh officially began. Everyone – instructors in white shirts, participants in green – performed the Sukhasana, a meditative pose that spreads a sense of calm and peace through the mind and body. With eyes closed and a mantra chanted by the yogini, everyone started to feel what yoga is all about, what inner harmony is all about.
In a quite challenging but unimposing way, participants were led to do the other yoga poses such as Baddha Konasana, Balasana, Bhujangasana and Vrikshasana. The yoga positions weren’t as easy as they seem, but the inner tranquility and stillness participants started to master 30 minutes since the first asana was more than enough to keep them in full balance as they brought their right feet high up on their inner left thighs.
Chhem Narin, 47, was on her orange mat as she performed all the yoga poses. Despite being a beginner in the practice, she was on high spirit – bending her body, stretching her arms up and raising her knees with total ease.
“It’s my first time to do yoga. I am really happy that I came here to join the event. You know, I really felt that my mind was so at peace,” said Ms Narin. She added that her daily exercises have helped her easily cope with the yoga positions.
The entire session at the National Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning lasted for almost two hours – giving everyone the opportunity to not just get their physical bodies working, but also to regain mental and spiritual vigor after a week’s work.
It was just one of the four yoga events that transpired around the country over the weekend – the others being at Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville – as the Embassy of India and the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia collaboratively celebrated the 4th International Day of Yoga.
Indian Ambassadress Manika Jain, who herself actively participated in the yoga session, said that India’s ancient practice of discipline and exercise has also become a way of living even in Cambodia.
“I am very happy with the participation of many Cambodians in our yoga events. The enthusiasm of the locals is just overwhelming. Yoga is a very ancient technique to maintain your health and mental capabilities. It will also help you gain spiritual boost. For Cambodia, yoga is very, very helpful in eradicating stress and trauma. Yoga can help them connect with the environment and with others and will keep them grounded,” expressed Ms Jain.
The ambassadress also emphasised that the International Day of Yoga – officially celebrated on June 21 – has become a symbolic occasion to bring people together, all aiming for a happy and peaceful life.