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Wijesiri conducting a yoga session

As Sri Lanka gets ready for the upcoming International Yoga Day, a karate master, who propagates this health form, eagerly awaits the event that is scheduled to be held in Colombo.

One might be perplexed why a karate enthusiast with so much energy wants to dabble in a soft exercise form like yoga? Karate master Dharmapala Wijesiri, a fifth Dan black belt holder in Toyo Kai Karate, told Nation that yoga can help any sportsman balance the body and mind. “Yoga is immensely helpful to any sportsman or woman who wants to be successful in whatever discipline an individual takes to. Yoga is a form of meditation in a way and it helps sportsmen to concentrate,” said Wijesiri who runs Dhamya Yoga Academy alongside his karate classes in Nugegoda.

International Yoga Day is scheduled for June 21 and will be held at the Vihara Maha Devi Open Air Theatre in Colombo 7 commencing at 6 am. As many as eight yoga institutes operating in Sri Lanka have been invited to perform on International Yoga Day and Wijesiri is perhaps the only karate master to receive a personal invitation for the event. The yoga event is organized by the High Commission of India, Colombo and Indian Cultural Centre. All Sri Lankans are invited to participate.

International Yoga Day commenced following a suggestion by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set aside a day in the calendar to celebrate yoga in the world. This event was declared to be internationally celebrated by United Nations General Assembly on December 11 in the year 2014.

Wijesiri said that some of the yoga movements are used at the beginning of a karate session. “We start our training with a few minutes of meditation and meditation is a part of yoga,” said Wijesiri who added that he began introducing yoga to his karate students 15 years ago.

At present, parents who send their children to Wijesiri for his karate classes appreciate his efforts to teach them yoga too. Most of his students attend school and he said that yoga helps them enhance their memory. He was also quick to mention that yoga helps to stretch the muscles of any sportsman.

He sees great importance in International Yoga Day and said that this type of event spreads the message that this heath form is so important to the lives of people like never before.

Founder of Isha Foundation Jaggi Vasudev, a spiritual guru, has praised setting aside an international day for yoga and underscored the importance of doing it correctly. Vasudev is quoted in his website isha.sadguru.org in saying, “Yoga is not an exercise system, but a profound form of evolving a human being”.

Chief Yoga Instructor of Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), Colombo Vyasah Kalyanasunderam told Nation that yoga is a life building technique. Kalyanasunderam hailed the fact that a world body. All participants at International Yoga Day are expected to bring their yoga mats and wear either white or off-white t-shirts and black or blue pants. All participants will receive a certificate of participation.

“This day is so important to us and it becomes more important when everybody gets together and promotes yoga,” said Wijesiri.

(More details regarding International Yoga Day can be obtained by calling Indian Cultural Centre on 0112684698)