Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga during an event to mark International Yoga Day in Ranchi, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar)

NEW DELHI (AP) — If China has panda diplomacy, India has yoga.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied the United Nations to designate June 21 International Yoga Day in his first year in power in 2014.

Since then, just as China under President Xi Jinping has given countries pandas for their zoos in a show of goodwill, Modi has used one of India's most popular exports to assert his nation's rising place in the world.

On Friday, the fifth annual International Yoga Day, Modi practiced various yoga "asanas" alongside an estimated 40,000 people in India's eastern state of Jharkhand as members of his Cabinet and foreign envoys rolled out their yoga mats in cities around the world.

"Let our motto be yoga for peace, harmony and progress," Modi said before joining the hourlong practice.

Most of India's 191 embassies and consulates worldwide organized yoga sessions to commemorate the day, according to the foreign ministry.

The ministry shared photos of yoga flash mobs on the streets of Kiev, colorful yoga mats around Brussels' Triumphal Arch, sun salutations under the Washington Monument, hundreds in seated prayer pose at Moscow's Tagansky Park and more than 500 people in identical transparent ponchos and black pants in front of the Yellow Crane Tower in rainy Wuhan, China.

At an event for diplomats in New Delhi featuring India's foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Israel's ambassador Ron Malka said Modi's use of yoga as a tool of diplomacy is "working quite well" to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Walter Lindner, the German ambassador to India, described Modi's yoga bid at the U.N. a "clever move."

"Yoga is a product which you can sell everywhere in the world," Lindner said, adding that 4 million people were participating in International Yoga Day events in Germany.

Modi has also used yoga to bolster his image at home.

Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a resounding victory in India's recently concluded weekslong general elections by promoting a "New India" that pairs rapid economic growth with the trappings of the country's ancient roots.

After the final day of polling, Modi, who casts himself as a Hindu ascetic who closely follows the religion's strictures on vegetarianism and yoga, retreated to a Himalayan mountain cave to meditate — with a camera crew in tow.

Modi last year released a 2-minute video showing him practicing yoga on his lawn at the prime minister's residence. Some online commentators used the opportunity to compare Modi with India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Many shared pictures of Nehru doing a headstand, an advanced yoga posture. Of the benefits, Nehru wrote in his autobiography, "The slightly comic position increased my good humor and made me a little more tolerant of life's vagaries."

___

Associated Press writer Mariya Amrayeva contributed to this report.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga during an event to mark International Yoga Day in Ranchi, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar)
Indian lawmakers perform yoga in front of the parliament house to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo)
Diplomats of various countries perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied the United Nations to designate June 21 International Yoga Day in his first year in power in 2014. Most of India's 191 embassies and consulates worldwide organized yoga sessions to commemorate the day, according to the foreign ministry. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Israel's Ambassador to India Ron Malka, center wearing black trousers, performs yoga along with other diplomats from various countries to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied the United Nations to designate June 21 International Yoga Day in his first year in power in 2014. Most of India's 191 embassies and consulates worldwide organized yoga sessions to commemorate the day, according to the foreign ministry. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Indians performs Yoga on International Yoga Day at Kankariya lake in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, performs a yoga position on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, performs yoga on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Indians perform yoga during International Yoga Day in Prayagraj, India , Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indians perform yoga during International Yoga Day in Prayagraj, India , Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indians perform yoga during International Yoga Day in Prayagraj, India , Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indians perform yoga during International Yoga Day in Prayagraj, India , Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indians perform yoga during International Yoga Day in Prayagraj, India , Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indian Sadhus, or Hindu holy men, perform yoga on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Indian Sadhus, or Hindu holy men, perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A dog sleeps as exile Tibetan students of the Tibetan Children's Village School participate in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
Members of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) perform yoga on International Yoga Day at the Bison Polo Grounds in Hyderabad, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
A member of India's National Cadet Corps (NCC) yawns while performing yoga on International Yoga Day at the Bison Polo Grounds in Hyderabad, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Exile Tibetan students of Tibetan Children's Village School participate in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
An instructor guides students of Tibetan Children's Village School during a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
An exile Tibetan Buddhist nun participates with other students of the Tibetan Children's Village School in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
An instructor guides students of Tibetan Children's Village School during a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
Exile Tibetan students of the Tibetan Children's Village School participate in a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in Dharmsala, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
Indians performs Yoga on International Yoga Day at Kankariya lake in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Indians performs Yoga on International Yoga Day at Kankariya lake in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Navy personnel and their families perform yoga aboard the navy vessel INS Viraat on International Yoga Day in Mumbai, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Navy personnel and their families perform yoga aboard the navy vessel INS Viraat on International Yoga Day in Mumbai, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Diplomats of various countries perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Indians perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Indians perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Indians perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Indians perform yoga to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, unties his hair during a yoga session to mark International Yoga Day in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. Yoga enthusiasts across the world Friday took part in mass yoga events to mark International Yoga Day. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, performs a yoga position on International Yoga Day at Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)