United Nations: Participants from a record 135 nationalities gathered in front of the iconic UN Secretariat building here to commemorate International Yoga Day today as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon underlined Yoga's message of promoting harmony and asked people to commit to unity regardless of ethnicity and faith.
On the occasion, General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft underscored the importance of Yoga in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Renowned spiritual leader Sadhguru led a Yoga session during the hour-long commemoration, organised by India's Permanent Mission to the UN and attended by top UN officials, ambassadors, diplomats and Yoga?practitioners.
India's Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said people from a record 135 nationalities had gathered at the world body's headquarters to celebrate the second International Yoga Day.
Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach read out UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's message for the Yoga day, in which he underscored Yoga's message of promoting harmony among people.
The UN Chief appealed to citizens across nations to commit to living in unity with fellow human beings regardless of their ethnicity and sexual orientation.
In his message for the day, Lykketoft said for centuries Yoga has been recognised not only as a physical exercise but also as an "exercise to achieve oneness with yourself".
In the current times of "unsustainable consumption and production, climate change, discrimination and injustice, I hope that today and in the future the International Yoga Day can serve to raise consciousness, to advance action to realise our sustainable development goals," he said.
Videos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's messages on Yoga Day were also shown at the commemoration.
Sadhguru led a nearly half-hour long Yoga session with Lykketoft and diplomats joining other participants on specially made blue Yoga mats to perform breathing exercises and meditate.
The Indian mission had provided customised Yoga Day T-shirts and caps to the participants.
Special Yogic meals were also served at the conclusion of the programme.
The event, compered by Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, also included a musical incantation on Yoga by renowned British singer Tanya Wells, who recited Sanskrit shlokas.