BENGALURU: It was a spiritual, relaxed and flexible Friday as thousands of Bengalureans turned up at several public places, rolled out their colourful mats and stretched themselves to strike tough yoga postures to mark the 5th International Yoga Day. A sea of people gathered at Sree Kanteerava Stadium at the crack of dawn and performed a string of yogasanas, beginning with surya namaskars and pranayamas.The stadium turned yellow as yoga enthusiasts sported shirts in the vibrant hue. While professionals revelled in striking rigorous postures, amateurs and beginners were seen sweating it out after going through a couple of routines. Among the participants were members of women groups, senior citizens as well as students from various schools. “Yoga is very important as it relaxes the body, mind and soul. It might seem slow initially, but as days pass, it’ll become the most important thing,” said Ramakrishna Balaram, a senior citizen and Jayanagar resident who performed yogasanas with his grandchildren Atheeva and Pranita. “Thata (grandfather) ensures we do surya namaskars every day. He also bribes us with toffees so that we do yoga,” added Pranita, 12. “Every day, we wake up at 5am and practise yoga on the terrace,” said Kantharaj Swamy, a yoga practitioner for over 10 years. “Yoga changed my life. I was suffering from back pain and doctors had suggested surgery,” Kantharaj said, adding: “My friend advised to try out yoga and from 2009, I have been doing so. Miraculously, I do not have any pain.” Clubbing celebrations At Greenwood High, Father’s Day and International Yoga Day were celebrated together. Parents along with their children took part in the celebrations. Around 3,000 students and over 400 parents performed yogasanas on campus.Dhyan Foundation, a spiritual and charitable organisation, conducted the sessions. “Thanks to our busy work schedules, most of us are becoming weekend dads. I and my daughter Anaya had so much fun doing yoga together in her school,” said Abhijeet Sinha, a parent. Niru Agarwal, trustee, Greenwood High, said yoga has been a part of their the school curriculum for several years now and is given equal importance like any branch of study. Akshaya Patra leads sessions in 21 schools The Akshaya Patra Foundation, in partnership with Benglauru-based health and fitness startup Yo2Yoga, conducted yoga sessions for over 4,000 students in 21 government schools across the city. The schools are planning to introduce yoga sessions based on guidelines from the ministry of Ayush for an year. “It is excellent that these children are getting to learn yoga. It will not only make them healthy, but also prepare them to represent their schools at competitive platforms. Hopefully, some of them will also look at it as a viable career option and pursue it,” said Shridhar Venkat, CEO, Akshaya Patra.