Baam-e Tehran in the north of the Iranian capital recently hosted the largest gathering of Iranian Yoga practitioners to mark the International Yoga Day.

Based on a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 21 was declared as the International Yoga Day by the United Nations in 2014 with the aim of raising global awareness about the benefits of the sport.

The choice of June 21 was by no means a coincidence. The longest day of the year symbolizes light, clarity, strength, and forces of wisdom for many philosophic streams.

Yoga is practiced today in a multitude of forms and continues to gain popularity. This trend is also supported by increasing medical research on the health benefits of the discipline, as well as the fact that it complements mainstream medical treatments.

The word yoga itself is a reflection of peace, unity, as its Sanskrit meaning refers to “joining or uniting,” symbolizing the union of body and consciousness, but also peace between the individual and the outer world.

Currently there are 18,000 sports clubs across Iran with 3,000 focusing mainly on Yoga and 12,000 others focusing on Yoga and other athletic exercises.

What follows are ISNA’s photos of a ceremony held on Thursday in northern Tehran to mark the International Yoga Day:

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