As millions around the world celebrated the fourth International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped that yoga can become a "binding force" for the world, asserting it has no religion and contributes to physical and mental well-being of individuals.
Modi made these remarks while inaugurating the 'YO1 Luxury Nature Cure Centre' in the Catskills area of New York state yesterday via video-link.
"The word yoga means to unite. Therefore, this surge of interest in yoga fills me with hope. I hope that yoga can become a binding force for the world," he said in his video address to inaugurate the centre, the brainchild of Rajya Sabha MP and Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra.
The telecast was viewed by Chandra and several members of the Indian-American community at the centre, including Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal.
"I always believe that yoga has no religion. It contains practical steps which can benefit everyone, even those who do not consider themselves religious," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said in just three years the International Yoga Day has grown into a worldwide public movement and become an integral part of public life in many countries.
"Its impact has expanded far beyond its day of observance," he said, adding that across nations, the day has become an occasion for initiations of millions of people inspired by the spirit of yoga, who commit themselves to its pursuit.
He added that several people, who already practice yoga, re-dedicate themselves to its pursuit on this day.
Lauding the opening of the centre, Modi appreciated that it will create about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in the area.
"It will thus be a responsible member of the community," he said, adding that the facility will also work to bring the benefit of yoga to all those who come there and contribute significantly to the wellness movement in the US.
Underscoring the global impact of yoga, Modi said interest in the exercise form is growing rapidly in western countries.
"It would be no exaggeration to say that yoga has been appreciated a lot by the western world. In the US alone, more than 20 million people are practicing yoga and this number is increasing at an average of five per cent every year," he said. -- PTI
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga during a mass yoga event on 4th International Yoga Day at Forest Research Institute ground in Dehradun on Thursday, June 21, 2018. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo