International Yoga Day
Declared by the United Nations in 2014
Recognizing yoga’s universal appeal, in 2014 the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga. Its purpose is to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
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.
As described on the UN website, The resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. Proposed by India’s Prime Minister in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly, 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 yourself, the world and the nature.
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.”
Our own Gurudevi Nirmalananda says:
After a yoga class, you drive safer. You are happier and kinder, more generous and altruistic. If everyone did yoga, this world would be a better place.
The problems you bring begin to disappear before your class ends. Your aches and pains are reduced, the pressures you face are less overwhelming and you get some bounce back in your step. It all starts with deep relaxation and yogic breathing.