Tourists who visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Friday, June 19, 2015, were in for a surprise view, not mentioned anywhere in the tourist guides on the sights visible from the most famous observatory in the world. Over 300 meters below in the Seine river, a boat moved gently, carrying a number of people practicing various yoga asanas. It was an ongoing Yoga rehearsal, in preparation of the First International Yoga Day, which is to be celebrated on June 21, 2015.
The yoga program has been organized by the Indian embassy in France in collaboration with the French wing of the Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravishankar, while the boat belongs to the famous Bateaux Mouches Compagnie, which ferries thousands of tourists every day, round the year, for a cruise on the Seine river. The Indian embassy in Paris is also making hectic efforts to ensure that the International Yoga Day is marked all over France and with the maximum number of participants. Dr Mohan Kumar, the newly-appointed Indian Ambassador to France, said, "We will hold Yoga demonstrations on June 21 in over 20 main French cities in nearly 30 different locations."
Deepali Patel, president of Art of Living France, said, "This is perhaps the first time ever that Yoga has been practiced on the Parisian river, following more or less the same route as the one taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his French host, President Hollande in April. After 'Nav Pe Charcha', we have 'Nav Pe Yoga'. June 21 will mark a unique moment for the world when hundreds of thousands of people all over the world would share a moment of harmony and peace."
Serge Michaunaud, the executive director of the Art of Living Foundation, France, has big expectations from the First International Yoga Day. He believes that celebrating the International Yoga Day will bring a much larger and broader understanding of Yoga in the French society. Michaunaud said, "We expect that the French people should have a bigger and broader image of Yoga. They should understand that it is not just an exercise and a way of living which is very beneficial to an individual in ensuring good health and removing stress. They will see that by bringing thousands of people from diverse social, ethnic and economic backgrounds under one roof, at the same moment and nearly breathing in unison, they will see how Yoga can build bonds across the society and help bridge the gaps and differences that exist in our society today."
Ambassador Kumar revealed that the embassy has organized and initiated Yoga demonstrations at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, at the Parc de la Villette in north-eastern Paris as well as on the Bateaux Mouches. Besides this, events have been organized in all major cities of France, including Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse and even the remote French island territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, and in the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.