Since the 2010s, Hongkongers’ interest in Indian culture has gone from strength to strength. From start-ups teaching cultural dances (as reported by South China Morning Post in 2019) to the diverse range of excellent Indian dramas (with much more than just Bollywood) on Netflix, the Indian footprint of soft power is not to be underestimated in a city where the community has always been an influential and critical component of Hong Kong society.
Aside from Buddhism, India is the home of a great philosophical tradition that has gone global: yoga, both as a cultural phenomenon and as a movement with diverse schools both ancient and modern. Yoga in its modern expression encompasses several broad and large categories – haṭha, lāya, raja, jñāna, and bhakti – although new and creative movements that innovate or riff off of traditional principles have exploded since the 1900s.
While it is possible to dive deeper into the spiritual dimensions of yoga for a much richer experience of the art, it can also be practiced as a fitness and leisure regimen for all body types and fitness levels. Most would agree that yoga’s cultural imprint on the West, including its presence in contemporary fitness and the “athleisure” aesthetic, has been immense.
This month is one in which to celebrate this invaluable heritage of India’s fields of spirituality and health. On 17 June, from 7:30 to 10:00 in the morning, Hongkongers will be invited to partake in the all-day, International Day of Yoga, a global event celebrating the heritage and practice of all forms of yoga. In Hong Kong, yoga’s big day will take place at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong Island.
The International Day of Yoga is a unique date devoted to the celebration of this physical-spiritual art. Its origins lie in a proposal by Indian PM Narendra Modi, who suggested during a UN speech in 2014 that such an occasion be held each year in June. The first International Day of Yoga was held around the world on 21 June 2015, and has only grown in popularity since.
Built in 1995, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park is one of the most prominent public green spaces in the bustling hub, and remains unique in a metropolis that retains the title of most densely populated city in the world. While technically over 50 per cent of Hong Kong is designated as country parkland, it would have been quite difficult to host a mass yoga event in the forested mountainside.
As far as green spaces go on the Island, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park is probably more ideal than the more venerable and famous Victoria Park. With a striking statue of the father of modern China at the center of the expansive circular lawn, the park has a stunning view of the harborside, and yoga enthusiasts will be able enjoy extensive open space for stretching and asanas of diverse disciplines and schools. The neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun itself is a chic, vertically planned series of roads and lanes filled with boutique cafés, bars, and restaurants, many of which are a short walk from the park.
The 17th will be a perfect day for the Hong Kong community to explore yoga’s multifaceted dimensions among like-minded practitioners, veterans and amateurs alike. It is a chance to share in the universal benefits of yoga, which at once owes its origins to India’s unique spiritual and cultural landscape but is also humanity’s shared heritage.
Leading up to 17 June, there will be a series of yoga events at the consulate on the 10th, featuring a range of exercises and workshops with Hong Kong-based yoga teachers. All are invited.
India – Hong Kong SAR Bilateral Relations (Consulate General of India Hong Kong)
Hong Kong loves Bollywood: meet the woman teaching locals to dance like Madhuri Dixit and Shah Rukh Khan (South China Morning Post)
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