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Kenya celebrates world's first Yoga day

The world marks the first United Nations International Yoga Day at the University of Nairobi’s convocation grounds Sunday.

The event, which entails yoga practice, presentations and lectures among others was established on December 11, 2014 at the UN General Assembly following a petition by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In his petition, Modi described Yoga as the ‘invaluable gift of India’s tradition’, which helps one discover sense of oneness within self, the world and nature.

“Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature, a holistic approach to health and well-being,” he said.

The practice is fast gaining popularity among indigenous Kenyans or non-Orientals as The Standard on Sunday has established.

Dorcas Alusala, an entomologist, has been practising Yoga for the last 29 years.

The 59-year-old says: “Through meditation, I have become a very peaceful person”.

Meditation opens one to higher spiritual realm, where one enjoys serenity, peace and love in their purest forms.

Alfred Kavila, a 41-year-old businessman, has been at it for 18 years. He says through meditation, he has learned to ‘deal with life as it is without demanding changes.’

Kavila says his is a simple meditation; no physical exercises involved. “I simply retreat into my spiritual self, the soul, and through sustained focus, connect with God,” he explains.

Like any skill, meditation requires practice to perfect. It also requires spiritual knowledge as a foundation.

One needs to know their true self, true qualities, God and his qualities, history of time and the drama of life among others.

“People actually meditate in their daily lives, in moments of turmoil or happiness alike. It is just that they do not do it with the same discipline and dedication as we do it. Meditation is that special time you have with yourself and that whom you believe is the father of sustenance and benevolence, God,” Kavila adds.

Vedanti Padya, a 70-year-old and regional director of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, has spent virtually all her life teaching and spreading the magic of meditation. She “surrendered”, another term for dedicating all her life, to the institution in 1965.

Born in India, Padya set out to Africa in 1975 to establish the centre to teach Raja Yoga.

“The school is open for people of all walks of life. We offer lessons for one hour and practice the entire day. We only teach four subjects for free; spiritual knowledge, practice of yoga, inculcation of divine qualities and service for humanity,” she says.

Her major achievement over the years is conquest of fear and gaining the courage to move out to serve humanity.

Urvashi Vithal, born and bred in Zimbabwe, has practiced meditation for the last 35 years. She said she found the missing links in her life through meditation and though leading a disciplined life of a Raja Yogi.

“It has brought immense happiness in my life. I am at a point where I can spread happiness around me. I have this insatiable enthusiasm to move out and serve humanity. I believe and I know it is because of the God’s power, which I tap in my meditations,” she says.

Both Vedanti and Vithal are “sisters”, an equivalent of Catholic nuns, who renounced their family life and devoted themselves to a Raja Yogi life.

It is the same story for Chetean Patel, also known as 'Tony' by his friends. For 39 years now, he has practiced meditation. He credits meditation for his academic excellence and business success.

“Meditations help in concentration and merging of thoughts. It’s a lean process and it makes things settle in,” says the 49-year-old businessman.