About 2,000 people - newbies and masters alike - lined up on colorful mats Sunday, nearly filling an exhibit hall in the George R. Brown Convention Center for the first International Day of Yoga. The crowd - a broad mix of cultures, ages and levels of experience - breathed with him, lifting their arms skyward, bending deeply at the waist and suspending their bodies in a sitting "chair" pose. After the morning's group workout, the day included meditation, yoga demonstrations and talks about the discipline's health and therapeutic benefits. "Yoga is physical exercise, but on a deeper level it's about unity of heart and action, unity of mind and body, unity of man and nature," Parvathaneni said. To organize Sunday's celebration, the consulate general assembled a diverse group of cultural organizations and yoga practitioners of all stripes, from Ashtanga to Bikram. The crowd included some beginners and many longtime yoga devotees, including University of Houston Chancellor and President Renu Khator, who chose a spot in the second row. More than 24 million Americans practiced yoga in 2013, according to a Sports & Fitness Industry Association survey - a number that has grown substantially in the past couple of decades. Besides exercise, yoga brings her calm, peace and a chance to escape everything.