In the last few years, yoga's popularity has taken off in the Kashmir Valley, thanks to a renewed fitness and health interest, particularly among youth.
This ancient form of exercise is fast becoming popular among young Kashmiri girls. This was quite evident when over 180 girls from several schools across the state participated in the first-ever two-day State Women Yoga Championship organised here on Saturday.
Participants, mostly between the age group of 10 and 15 years, competed by displaying their flexibility through performing yoga postures and exercises.
"There is many advantages of Yoga, whatever one wants to become (by practicing it) one can achieve it," said Fozia, a participant. Miara Anjum, another participant, said, "Now, it has become a sport and is no longer just something practiced by seers and holy men for meditation. It gives us a peace of mind."
The winners in the two-day long championship organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Yoga Association will participate at the national level. "If one follows therapeutic Yoga it can cure many diseases. It has a lot of benefits and if a child practices Yoga it can help in their studies," said Shabir Ahmed, coach cum organiser.
Yoga, the 5,000-year-old Indian discipline of exercise, diet and meditation involves a perfect blend of mental and physical exercises.