The fact that a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India

is now a multibillion-dollar industry around the globe has not escaped the current government’s attention.

Indian Navy personnel take part in a yoga session to mark the fifth International Day of Yoga on the deck of the decommissioned Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat, in Mumbai on Friday. (Divyakant Solanki/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in a mass yoga event to mark the International Day of Yoga in Ranchi, the state capital of Jharkhand in northeast India. (India’s Press Information Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Yoga is source of tourism for India and also an opportunity for Modi — who recently won reelection in a landslide — to portray the country as a spiritual leader. He often speaks of his desire to turn India into a “vishwa guru,” a country which acts as guru, or teacher, to the world.

Studiously absent in the official celebrations of International Yoga Day is any mention of Hinduism. “Yoga is for all and all are for yoga,” Modi tweeted on Friday. The product of thousands of years of history and multiple religious and geographic influences, the question of yoga’s parentage is a complex one.

But its roots in ancient Hindu texts and philosophy make it a natural fit for a Hindu nationalist politician like Modi. For politicians sharing Modi’s views, yoga’s origins together with its enormous secular popularity add up to “the perfect vehicle to create a shared national consciousness,” wrote novelist Manil Suri.

Indian yoga practitioners take part in a session on the International Day of Yoga at the 15th-century Adalaj Stepwell in Adalaj. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian yoga enthusiasts take part in a yoga session on the International Day of Yoga in Allahabad on Friday. (Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images)
The popularity of the International Day of Yoga has spread to other countries as well. Here, people participate in a mass yoga session in Tel Aviv on Thursday. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani yoga practitioners attend a yoga class ahead of the International Day of Yoga at a park in Lahore. (ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
People participate in a mass yoga session near Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, India. (Piyal Adhikary/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
The silhouette of a girl performing yoga on the rocky crest of the Ancient Observatory Kokino in North Macedonia on the fifth International Day of Yoga, which is also the day of the summer solstice. (Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a yoga class as the sun rises during the summer solstice, from atop the London Eye, in London. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Source: AWAKEN