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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

Dubai expat’s record-breaking handstand to mark International Yoga Day

Not only was yoga celebrated the world over on Sunday, the practice received an official endorsement from the United Nations.
Ivan Stanley, a yoga practitioner and instructor for more than 15 years, attempts the worlds longest head stand. No previous official record had been set. Mr Stanley set a time of 61 minutes. Antonie Robertson / The National
Ivan Stanley, a yoga practitioner and instructor for more than 15 years, attempts the worlds longest head stand. No previous official record had been set. Mr Stanley set a time of 61 minutes. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Ivan Stanley’s world was turned upside down on Sunday as he earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Indian expatriate performed this feat by spending 61 minutes in a headstand.

His world record bid was undertaken to celebrate the first International Yoga Day, which was marked on Sunday with events in 175 countries.

Mr Stanley, 41, has been practising yoga for 15 years.

Sirsasana [headstand’s Sanskrit name] is considered the king of all asanas [postures], and it is a constant challenge for practitioners,” he said. “As a long-time student of yoga, this attempt is part of my swadhyaya or self-study – a conscious decision to elevate myself well above my comfort zone.”

The advertising professional, who has lived in Dubai for 15 years, was thrilled to claim the first official headstand record.

There were several events taking place around the UAE to mark International Yoga Day.

Australian expat Nea Farrier, founder of Ashtanga Yoga Dubai, led a class for 45 people and gave a nod to India, the birthplace of yoga, by helping raise Dh3,600 for the charity Yoga Gives Back.

The not-for-profit funds initiatives that lend small loans to women in India who are excluded from conventional banking and financial systems.

Since she arrived in Dubai two years ago, Ms Farrier has seen the public’s interest in yoga grow exponentially among both men and women. She puts its popularity down to the fact it combines physical fitness with mental health.

“It leaves you with a more steady mindset,” she said.

Not only was yoga celebrated the world over on Sunday, the practice received an official endorsement from the United Nations.

“The [UN] general assembly has recognised the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations,” said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon when proclaiming June 21 the International Day of Yoga.

The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi marked the celebration with a mass yoga class at the Abu Dhabi Indian School.

Guests included Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

Elizabeth Ross, a British expatriate who has been practising yoga for 10 years, took part in the class and was delighted to see the practice being celebrated.

Having a day to mark yoga endorsed by the UN was important in raising awareness of its benefits, she said.

“I have become so much happier since practising yoga,” she said. “It’s a way for me to release stress, keep my body moving in a healthy way and at the same time rest my mind.

“When you fully practice yoga you feel the mental benefits as much as the physical, though most people will come to it as a form of exercise to begin with.”

Ms Ross said she hoped International Yoga Day would help people overcome any misconceptions they had about the practice.

“The more people know about yoga the better. People imagine it’s easy, or it’s just sitting cross legged chanting. It’s none of those things. There are so many styles to really suit whatever people are looking for, physically vigorous and demanding or more relaxing.”

mswan@thenational.ae

Updated: June 21, 2015 04:00 AM

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