African envoy stayed back for Yoga Day

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Ambassador Idriss Raoua Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso had finished his three-year tenure in India and was to have left. But the noted yoga teacher from the western African nation was asked to stay back for the International Yoga Day here on Sunday, which he did happily.

In recognition of his expertise, Ouedraogo, a Muslim who has been practicing yoga for 27 long years, has been invited as the chief guest at the foundation day ceremony of the Yoga University of India on Sunday.

“I had completed my term but was asked to stay back for the event,” Ouedraogo told IANS at Rajpath.

He has also been invited to speak on television channels, including Lok Sabha TV and Doordarshan.

For Ouedraogo, the 35 asanas performed as part of the International Yoga Day yoga protocol at Rajpath on Sunday were “simple”.

“The yoga protocol was simple. I do all the yoga exercises, I do pranayama (breathing exercises), I do mudras, all the asanas,” Ouedraogo said, adding that he was a yoga teacher.

“I teach yoga to around 100 teachers,” said the envoy, who has founded the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Centre in Burkina Faso.

Ouedraogo said there were seven yoga centres in the small landlocked nation of over 18 million.

The envoy said he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi when he was in secondary school and decided to take up yoga.

“I discovered yoga through Gandhi. But the yoga I was doing in the early phase I realised were done wrongly without the knowledge and philosophy behind yoga,” he says.

So Ouedraogo decided to fly to India to learn the ancient discipline.

“I got guidance. I flew down to India, from Kolkata, and moved to the Himalayas and learnt yoga.”

Ouedraogo, who has written books on yoga, is known as Yogi Idriss in his country.

The Yoga Meditation Centre of Burkina Faso now has a branch in neighbouring Benin too.

Ouedraogo was taught yoga by Swami Veda Bharati and by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the pioneers of modern yoga.

The envoy was surrounded by a group of admiring foreign delegates on Rajpath.

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