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Millions Take Time to Breathe on International Day of Yoga

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The number of people who do yoga around the world has been growing steadily in the last 40 years. People in more than 180 countries will do the breathing and movement exercise on this year’s International Yoga Day. It is officially observed on June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This year’s guiding idea is “peace.”

The Daily Star newspaper, published in Bangladesh, reports that people in China have “yoga fever.” The report says the country will have the most people after India observing International Yoga Day. Public yoga events will be held in parks, vacation places and even at the Great Wall.

The same report notes that in South Korea, sales of yoga mats and yoga towels have risen sharply this year.

In Vietnam, International Yoga Day has brought increased attention to the activity. The Economic Times reported that three years ago, 2,000 people there took part in yoga events on International Yoga Day. This year, more than 8,000 Vietnamese are expected to.

Dung Tien Nguyen runs a yoga center in Vietnam. Dung told reporters that long years of war in Vietnam affected people’s physical and mental health. Dung said, yoga is helping them feel better.

The United Nations declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga four years ago. The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, proposed the idea to the U.N. General Assembly. Modi noted that yoga was an ancient Indian tradition. He said the practice can unite mind and body, thought and action, people and nature.

Yoga has also been praised for improving balance, lowering blood pressure, increasing flexibility, and providing a sense of calm. The secretary-general of the U.N., Ban Ki-Moon, said, 'Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.”

But yoga has also been criticized.

A study by Australian and American researchers found that 10 to 20 percent of people felt pain or worsened injuries after doing yoga regularly. However, nearly 75 percent said regular yoga helped them feel less pain.

And researchers in Germany and England recently found that participating in yoga classes may make people think they are worthier than others.

Historically, yoga has aimed to limit the ego.

I’m Anna Mateo.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

steadily - adv. happening or developing in a continuous way

flexibility - n. ability to bend

contribute - v. to help to cause something to happen

relief - n. a pleasant and relaxed feeling that someone has when something unpleasant stops or does not happen

stress - n. a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life

ego - n. the opinion that you have about yourself

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