International Day of Yoga is celebrated every year on 21st June. Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga. The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. The draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. Every year, International Day of Yoga is celebrated around a different theme. Recognising the importance of yoga in promoting holistic health and also taking into account the impact of the on-going pandemic on the mental and psychological health, this year’s commemoration centres around Yoga for well-being.
Centuries ago one of the most popular Sanskrit poets Bhartrhari while highlighting the specialty of Yoga has said:
धैर्यं यस्य पिता क्षमा च जननी शान्तिश्चिरं गेहिनी
सत्यं सूनुरयं दया च भगिनी भ्राता मनः संयमः।
शय्या भूमितलं दिशोSपि वसनं ज्ञानामृतं भोजनं
एते यस्य कुटिम्बिनः वद सखे कस्माद् भयं योगिनः।।
This remarkable analogy which was postulated centuries ago means by practising Yoga regularly some very good qualities are imbibed. Courage is developed from the regular practise of Yoga which protects us like a father. Yoga also helps in building the quality of forgiveness as possessed by a mother. It also helps in developing mental peace which becomes our permanent friend. Bhartṛhari has said through regular practise of Yoga truth becomes our child, mercy our sister, self-control our brother, the earth itself becomes our bed and knowledge satiates our hunger. When so many qualities become the friend of the Yoga practitioner then he overcomes fear.
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity. People from every walk of life are now adopting Yoga which has emerged as the most trusted mean to boost physical and mental well-being. Yoga has crossed the regional boundaries to reach off-shore destinations where it is becoming very popular.
Here are some interesting links to start looking at how well the globe has adapted to Yoga:
Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131.
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
The proposal was first introduced by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly, in which he said:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action … a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with your-self, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being.”
The resolution notes “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.” In this regard, the World Health Organization has also urged its member states to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide, and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
But yoga is more than a physical activity. In the words of one of its most famous practitioners, the late B. K. S. Iyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”
International Day of Yoga 2021 theme: Yoga for well-being
The Day will be marked at a time when COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend lives and livelihoods of people globally.
Beyond its immediate impact on physical health, the COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated psychological suffering and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, as pandemic-related restrictions continue in various forms in many countries. This has highlighted the urgent need to address the mental health dimension of the pandemic, in addition to the physical health aspects.
The message of Yoga in promoting both the physical and mental well-being of humanity has never been more relevant. A growing trend of people around the world embracing Yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression has been witnessed during the pandemic. Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety.
Recognizing this important role of Yoga, this year’s commemoration of the International Day of Yoga focuses on Yoga for well-being – how the practice of Yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual.
The World Health Organization mentions yoga as a means to improve health in its Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world. UNICEF says kids can practice many yoga poses without any risk and get the same benefits that adults do. These benefits include increased flexibility and fitness, mindfulness and relaxation.