Thousands participate in International Day of Yoga in Toronto

Swami Ramdev with 800 million followers and Sister Shivani, with 200 million followers lead yoga and meditation sessions

Toronto, June 27, 2017: The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) enthusiastically celebrated the third edition of the International Day of Yoga on an unprecedented scale in the presence of His Holiness Yogrishi Swami Ramdev, world renowned yoga master and Sister Shivani, Spiritual leader, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.

More than 10,000 yoga enthusiasts participated in the yoga sessions held at the International Centre in Mississauga, among them several dignitaries including Kristy Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science; Patrick Brown, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario; Dipika Damerla, Ontario Minister of Seniors Affairs; Deepak Obhrai, Member of Parliament, Hazel McCallion, the  legendary former Mayor of Mississauga and prominent members of the federal, provincial and city political establishments; community and business leaders. The event also witnessed the participation of diplomatic corps based in Toronto.

Swami Ramdev congratulated India’s Consul General Ambassador Dinesh Bhatia, chair of the Advisory Committee of the International Yoga Day Canada (IYDC) and Satish Thakkar, chair of organising committee of IYDC.

“Toronto has organised the largest and the best 3rd International Day of Yoga celebrations outside India,” Swamiji Ramdev said expressing happiness at the heartwarming and rousing reception with which he was greeted by the massive gathering.  “An individual who follows the true path of yoga will be free from desire & lust. Eschewing desire and worldly entrapments leads to true freedom and happiness. Selflessness alone can lead us to salvation and stability,” he said during the three-hour yoga session he held with over 5000 participants interspersing the yoga exercises with wisdom, wit and yoga techniques.

Speaking on the occasion, Canada’s Minister of Science Honourable Kristy Duncan lauded the IYDC’s efforts to organise the program.

Indian Consul General Bhatia began his remarks by offering Eid greetings to everyone.

“I dedicate today’s yoga festival to the leadership and vision of Prime Minister Honourable Narendra Modi ji and External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj ji.” he said.

Consul General Bhatia thanked all the yoga institutions in Toronto who helped IYDC to organise the yoga festival, namely, Patanjali Yogapeeth, Art of Living, Shivananda Foundation, BKS Iyenger Yoga, Isha Foundation, Brahma Kumaris and Shri Ambika Yoga Kutir.

Thakkar, in his remarks, emphasized that the purpose of the celebrations was to celebrate UN’s 3rd International Day of Yoga and to raise awareness about the benefits of Yoga in Canada.

“With Canadian demographics transforming rapidly and radically, and seniors outnumbering all other age groups, Canadian health care budgets may spiral unimaginably. Yoga can alleviate health care costs,” Thakkar said.

The evening session was rarest of the rare occasion with both Swami Ramdev and Sister Shivani jointly addressing participants.  Sister Shivani of Brahma Kumaris, and one of the world’s leading exponents of Raj Yoga, held the audience captivated with her insight and wisdom.

“Raj yoga is more than merely physical exercise, it is the yoga of mind that lays emphasis on being aware of one’s state of mind. Through the practice of awakening and sustaining a spiritual awareness, one learns to calm the mind and increase one’s inner resources and overall sense of wellbeing,” she said.

The International Yoga Day Canada (IYDC), a Canadian not-for-profit, formed to popularise yoga in Canada had for the first time in three years successfully brought all organisations promoting yoga under one banner.   For more information, visit

About Baba Ramdev, World’s renowned Yogrishi with a following of 800 million followers

  • Baba Ramdev, founder of the Patanjali Group, is a world-famous yoga guru well known for his work in Ayurveda. Baba Ramdev has a huge following that includes many celebrities who attend his Yoga camps throughout the world – including Bollywood stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty
  • In 2006, Baba Ramdev was invited by Kofi Annan to give a lecture on poverty alleviation at United Nations.
  • Besides many honours by India, Baba Ramdev has also been honoured by the Legislature of State of New Jersey for his remarkable commitment in improving mental and physical health of people of all social backgrounds, races and religions as well as the British House of Commons.
  • In 2016, popular American business magazine Fast Company featured him in their Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Sister Shivani, Spiritual leader, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University with a following of 200 million followers

  • Sister Shivani is an Indian spiritual teacher and inspirational speaker associated with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University since 1995, popular for her motivational courses that are mainly conducted through public seminars and television programs.
  • She catapulted to popularity after hosting the immensely popular Awakening with Brahma Kumaris television series on Aastha channel.  She has also been part of other TV series including Rajayoga Meditation, Emotional Intelligence and Practical Spirituality.
  • In 2014, Sister Shivani was honored with Women of the Decade Achievers Award by ALL Ladies League for Excellence in Empowering Spiritual Consciousness.

About IYDC

  • IYDC was founded in 2015 to propagate and popularise the practice of yoga in Canada.
  • The 2017 International Yoga Day celebrations on June 25 are coinciding with Canada’s 150th birthday.
  • Through this program, organizers want to take the benefits of yoga to all Canadians to promote wellness and build a healthier and happier Canadian society.  Alternate approaches to health care include techniques such as yoga that occupy a prime place as one of the most effective and popular disciplines.
  •  “It is widely acknowledged that yoga has a positive impact on health and therefore health care. Yoga enhances productivity and contributes positively to the economy. It can also directly contribute to the nation’s happiness and creativity,” says Satish Thakkar, Chair of Board of Directors

About International Yoga Day Canada:

  • International Yoga Day Canada (IYDC), with the support of the Consulate General of India in Toronto, organized International Day of Yoga at the International Centre in Mississauga on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  • The program, attracted nearly 10,000 yoga enthusiasts from across the Greater Toronto Area, will be the largest congregation of yoga practitioners at a single venue in North America.
  • Baba Ramdev, the world-renowned yogi of Patanjali Yogpeeth, led the yoga session in the morning, breakout sessions with different stakeholder yoga organisations. This was followed by Sister Shivani of Brahma Kumaris who conducted Raj yoga meditation sessions in the evening.
  • Participants included members of the diplomatic corps from several countries, Canadian federal and provincial leaders, several Mayors of Greater Toronto Area (GTA cities yoga enthusiasts.
  • The event was broadcast Live globally, reaching a vast number of yoga enthusiasts.
  •  The cities of Brampton, Markham and Richmond Hill were partners for this event.

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