International Day of Yoga

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International Day of Yoga
International Day of Yoga Logo by United Nations.jpg
The United Nations International Yoga Day logo reflects harmony and peace for humanity, which is the essence of Yoga.
Also calledYoga Day
Observed byWorldwide
SignificanceOfficial United Nations promotion of global health, harmony and peace
Date21 June
Next time21 June 2022 (2022-06-21)
First time21 June 2015
International Yoga day at a glance

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on 21 June since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.[1] Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice which originated in India.[2] The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his UN address in 2014, had suggested the date of 21 June, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.[3][better source needed]


Prime Minister , Narendra Modi at Yoga Day celebrations in New Delhi, 21 June 2015

The idea of an International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on 27 September 2014.[4] He stated:[5]

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

— Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly

Following this initial proposal, the UN adopted the draft resolution, entitled Day of Yoga", on 2014.[6] The consultations were convened by the delegation of India.[7] In 2015 Reserve Bank of India issued a 10 rupees commemorative coin to mark the International Day of Yoga.[8] In April 2017, UN Postal Administration (UNPA) issued 10 stamps on Asanas on a single sheet to mark International Day of Yoga.[9]


Shiva is considered to be the originator of yoga, he is the Adiyogi, the first yogi (adi ="first"). Summer solstice holds importance in the yogic culture as it is considered to be the very beginning of the yoga. Yoga was brought to the people by the Saptarishis - story[which?] says that Shiva was sitting in blissful meditation for years, many people flocked to him out of curiosity, but left as he never paid attention to anyone. But seven people stayed, they were so determined to learn from Shiva, that they sat still for 84 years. After this, on the day of summer solstice, when the sun was shifting from the northern to the southern run, Shiva took notice of these 7 beings - he could no longer ignore them. The next full moon, 28 days later, Shiva turned into the Adiguru (the first guru), and transmitted the science of yoga to the Saptarishis.

UN Declaration[edit]

On 11 December 2014, India's Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who sponsored the text, which was adopted without a vote. This initiative found support from many global leaders. A total of 177 nations co-sponsored the resolution, which is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA resolution of such nature.[10]

When proposing 21 June as the date, Modi said that the date was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (shortest in the southern hemisphere), having special significance in many parts of the world. From the perspective of yoga, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The second[11] full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima. Shiva, the first yogi (Adi Yogi), is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day, and became the first guru (Adi Guru).[12]

Following the adoption of the UN resolution, several leaders of the spiritual movement in India voiced their support for the initiative. The founder of Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, stated, "this could be a kind of a foundation stone to make scientific approach to the inner well-being of the human being, a worldwide thing... It's a tremendous step for the world."[13] The founder of Art of Living, Ravi Shankar, lauded the efforts of Modi, saying, "It is very difficult for any philosophy, religion or culture to survive without state patronage. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now, official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of yoga to the entire world."[14]

In practice[edit]

International Yoga Day in New Delhi
International Yoga Day in New York City, United States
International Yoga Day in Vladivostok, Russia

The first International Day of Yoga was observed around the world on 21 June 2015. The Ministry of AYUSH made the necessary arrangements in India. 35,985 people, including PM Modi and dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi, becoming the largest yoga class ever held, and with the largest number—84—of participating nations.[15][16][17] Similar days have been held in cities in India and around the world each year since then.[18][19][20][21][22][23]

In 2020, Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov recorded a video message to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of International Yoga Day.[24]


An Associated Press report in 2015 noted that the first "International Yoga Day"[25] involved "millions of yoga enthusiasts" who "stretched and twisted", as well as Modi and members of his cabinet. It stated that the main road in Delhi had become an exercise area for the occasion, and reported that while Modi was speaking of "peace and harmony",[25] some people in India thought the promotion of yoga was a partisan Hindu operation. It reported that a sequence of Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) was dropped because Muslims objected to the implication that the sun was the Hindu god of the sun, Surya; the chanting of the Hindu sacred syllable "Om" was also dropped. Others considered that the money spent on the event might have been better spent on cleaning Delhi's streets.[25]

The Christian Science Monitor wrote in 2016 that the 2014 United Nations resolution had been "wildly popular"[26] but noted that yoga had a "meditative component"[26] and had become known as not only a form of physical exercise but also a mental and spiritual practice. It gave as evidence the 2015 sermon by Pope Francis cautioning Roman Catholics about the idea that yoga could be a path to God; it noted, too, that Modi had replied to the charge that the Day was intended to promote Hinduism with the words "Yoga is not about the other life. Therefore, it is not a religious practice".[26]

The Week stated in 2015 that the government of India's purpose in holding International Days of Yoga was to have yoga recognised around the world as "India's cultural property",[27] citing India's minister of yoga, Shripad Yesso Naik as stating "We're trying to establish to the world that it's ours."[27] The Week wrote that this was not likely to succeed, not least because many types of yoga were already being practised in the Western world.[27] The article noted that Christian evangelicals agreed with the Indian government that yoga was "primarily a Hindu spiritual practice",[27] but quoted the scholar of religion Ann Gleig as saying that most Western yoga was markedly changed by being in the West, and was devoid of religious content; the "ironically"[27] agreeing views of strongly religious Hindus and Christians were "historically flawed".[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UN Declared 21 June as International Day of Yoga Archived 9 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Yoga: Its Origin, History and Development". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  3. ^ "UN declares June 21 as 'International Day of Yoga'". The Times of India.
  4. ^ "India's Modi calls for reform in speech to UN". BBC. 27 September 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  5. ^ Modi calls for Yoga Day in UN General Assembly Archived 9 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "International Yoga Day 2021: Theme, History, Quotes, Benefits, Importance". S A NEWS. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  7. ^ "UN General Assembly to hold informal consultations on International Day of Yoga". The Economic Times. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  8. ^ 10 rupees coin of 2015 – International Day of Yoga,
  9. ^ "UN to issue 10 stamps of 'asanas' on International Yoga Day". Business Standard India. 19 April 2017.
  10. ^ "United Nations General Assembly adopts Resolution on International Day of Yoga with a record number of 177 country co-sponsors".
  11. ^ "Guru Purnima 2018".
  12. ^ Sadhguru, J (3 July 2012). "The first Guru is born". Times of India. Times News Service. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  13. ^ International Day of Yoga: A Historic Event. YouTube. 21 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Speaks on International Yoga Day". 12 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Massive turnout for Yoga day".
  16. ^ "Largest yoga class". Guinness world record. 21 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  17. ^ "PM Modi Leads Yoga Session, India Sets Guinness Records: 10 Developments". NDTV. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  18. ^ "PM Modi To Attend International Yoga Day At Chandigarh". NDTV. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  19. ^ Shylaja Varma (21 June 2017). "International Yoga Day 2017: Rainy Start To Yoga Day, PM Narendra Modi Leads Asanas In Lucknow – Highlights". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  20. ^ "International Yoga Day 2017: A Look at the Celebrations Around the World". 7 June 2016.
  21. ^ "International Yoga Day: Record 10,000 people participate in event in China's largest ever congregation". 25 June 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  22. ^ "International Yoga Day | Rajasthan records biggest yoga gathering". The Hindu (in en-IN). 21 June 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 April 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  23. ^ "International Yoga Day 2019: 5th International Yoga Day Celebrations in Chandigarh". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Бербатов се подготвя за Индия с посещение в посолството (СНИМКИ)" [Borissov congratulates Indian Prime Minister on Yoga Day (VIDEO)]. bTV Новините (in Bulgarian). 21 June 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  25. ^ a b c Associated Press (21 June 2015). "Yoga fans around world take to their mats for first International Yoga Day". The Guardian.
  26. ^ a b c McCarthy, Simone (21 June 2016). "Why is the United Nations promoting yoga?".
  27. ^ a b c d e f The Week Staff (7 February 2015). "Does yoga belong to India?". The Week.

External links[edit]