Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that yoga, which is a practice to connect body, mind and soul, has played a "big role" in binding the world, cutting across linguistic and cultural barriers. Addressing a huge gathering at Lucknow's Ramabai Ambedkar maidan on the occasion of the third edition of the International Yoga Day celebrations, Modi asserted that the traditional practice has now become part of every person's life. He also pointed out how the United Nations had accepted his proposal in record time to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day and as a result, yoga related events were taking place around the world.
"Many countries which do not know our language, tradition, or culture, are now connecting to India through Yoga. The practice, which connects body, mind and soul, has played a big role in binding the world too," he said.
He said that the annual celebrations have helped in standardization of yoga and pointed out how the young were captivated by yoga, an age-old tradition propounded by saints and seers.
"Earlier, Yoga was only restricted to saints and seers in the Himalayan mountains. Now, it has become part of every person's life," he said in his address. Donning a white t-shirt and loose trousers, Modi also performed asanas along with over 50,000 yoga enthusiasts braving early morning drizzles.
He further said, "I am glad to see several Yoga institutes take shape over the last three years. Demand for Yoga teachers is increasing."
Yoga was a great medium to bring cohesion in the society, Modi said, adding no one in the world was questioning the benefits of yoga.
Using an analogy of salt, Modi said Yoga is essential for the body like the salt and while one has nominal cost, another is completely free.
"Just as the importance of salt is not only to lend taste to food, but also ensure well-being of the body, similarly Yoga can have the same importance as salt has in life," he said.
He also asserted that attaining "wellness" through yoga was more important than simply being physically fit.
"I urge everyone to make yoga a part of their life. In addition to fitness, wellness is important and Yoga is a medium to achieve wellness. We may not master yoga or become teachers but we should not stop from doing yoga," he said. "Yoga not only enlightens the body but also the soul."
"It is not important to perform yoga for 24 hours. 50 or 60 minutes (is fine) because it lends harmony to the body, mind and intellect. If 1.25 billion Indians and people around the world can attain this state of well-being, then humankind can also tide over problems born out of human thoughts," he said.
The Prime Minister described yoga as a free life insurance, which everyone can avail to better their health.
Owing to heavy rains and water logging at the venue, Modi jokingly told the large gathering -- where people used the yoga mats to shield themselves -- that he had now learnt other benefits of the yoga mat as well. Intermittent rains since morning failed to deter thousands of yoga enthusiasts, who enjoyed performing asanas fully drenched.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who welcomed Modi to the stage, said Yoga helps to unite people.
"Yoga is an ancient Indian practice and all ancient scriptures including the Vedas have accepted the importance of yoga. Yoga is a way of life and helps to unite people," Adityanath said.
In his address, Adityanath thanked Modi for enhancing Yoga's reputation globally.