Downward-facing dogs, cobras and warriors sprouted all over Asia on Thursday, as the fourth annual International Yoga Day got under way.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose proposal for the global event won UN approval in 2014, led the way, performing his asanas with over 50,000 others in the northern city of Dehradun.
People gathered at a sprawling forest research institute -- snakes and monkeys were removed in advance -- before dawn for the communal session involving the yoga-mad premier, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
"The way to lead a calm, creative & content life is Yoga. It can show the way in defeating tensions and mindless anxiety," Modi said on Twitter.
Yoga is the journey from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ It promises balance, calm, helps boost concentration and gives immense strength.
As we approach the #4thYogaDay, I urge people around the world to make Yoga a part of their lives. pic.twitter.com/A4zk3ybNye— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 18, 2018
"Instead of dividing, Yoga unites. Instead of further animosity, Yoga assimilates. Instead of increasing suffering, Yoga heals," the 67-year-old said.
Other gatherings took place in the capital New Delhi with 10,000 enthusiasts registered. Several hundred braved unhealthy pollution levels and hot and humid weather to lay out their mats in the Lodi Gardens park.
At least 5,000 events big and small took place across India, but the largest was expected to be in Mysore in the south with more than 60,000 taking part, according to organisers.
Yoga was also performed on board the Japanese naval ship JS Ise and on the Indian Navy's INS Sahyadri taking part in military exercises in the western Pacific, the Indian Navy said.
Submarine staff from India's Eastern Naval Command were pictured doing yoga poses, as were soldiers in Secunderabad.
Indian Naval Ships Shakti and Kamorta of the Indian Navy's Eastern fleet, presently on a deployment in western Pacific ocean and south east Asia, practice Yoga #InternationalYogaDay2018 pic.twitter.com/EYGeUTYvmh— ANI (@ANI) June 21, 2018
Artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a special sand sculpture with the message "Yoga for Peace and Harmony" on a beach in the eastern city of Puri.
My SandArt on #InternationalYogaDay2018 with message "yoga for harmony and peace” at Puri beach, Odisha. I’ve shown world's top leaders like US President, Chinese President, Russian President, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Hon PM @narendramodi with their country flags. pic.twitter.com/NHDBCP0zVH— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) June 21, 2018
The artwork featured Modi, US President Donald Trump, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un all in the lotus position.
My SandArt on #InternationalYogaDay2018 with message "yoga for harmony and peace” at Puri beach, Odisha. I’ve shown world's top leaders like US President, Chinese President, Russian President, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Hon PM @narendramodi with their country flags. pic.twitter.com/gpZGFqnSli— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) June 21, 2018