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Yoga devotees bend over backwards to see Indian guru

THOUSANDS of yoga ­devotees turned out in Glasgow yesterday to catch a glimpse of their guru just days after he was held up on his arrival into the UK by immigration red-tape.

GATHERING: Yoga devotees enjoyed the event.
GATHERING: Yoga devotees enjoyed the event.

Swami Ramdev Ji, who reportedly has an 85 million-strong worldwide following, led a yoga class for nearly 2000 practitioners at the Emirates Arena.

But, although he was pleased by the turnout, the spiritual leader said he was used to larger numbers.

Swami Ji said: "This is a miracle for you but when I practice in India 200,000 people are coming to take part. Here, there is a limitation of space but people are slowly, slowly going crazy for yoga and this is a good sign."

Swami Ji's visit to Glasgow continued despite a difficult start after he was detained at Heathrow for eight hours on Friday.

He was given a 24-hour visa and ordered to return to the airport on Saturday before being allowed to continue his journey on Sunday night.

The guru, who has his own television channel in India, is famous for running campaigns protesting against government corruption and for carrying out hunger strikes.

A trust run by Swami Ji bought the island of Little Cumbrae off the coast of Largs and set up a yoga centre two years ago.

His visit to Scotland was part of a project to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of the exercise around the world.

YogArena, an initiative by the charity Patanjali Yog Peeth (UK) Trust, aims to host yoga classes in arena-sized venues.

Swami Ji was joined by yoga practitioner Sunita Poddar who, with her husband Sam, has held more than 150 yoga classes for children in Glasgow.

Her new book, Yoga for Children, demonstrates the potential benefits of Patanjali yoga practice in the classroom and features Glasgow pupils who took part.

Mrs Poddar said: "We all know that Scotland has a poor health record and our aim by holding this event is to share the benefits of light yoga and breathing exercises. Swami Ji has a huge yoga following and we are delighted that he is here to help us introduce the health benefits of yoga to the people of Scotland."

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