International Day of Yoga

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International Day of Yoga
Also calledYoga Day
Observed byWorldwide
SignificanceOfficial United Nations promotion of global health, harmony and peace
Date21 June
Next time21 June 2023 (2023-06-21)
First time21 June 2015
International Yoga day at a glance

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated across the world annually on June 21 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 ancient India.[2] The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his UN address in 2014, had suggested the date of June 21, 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]


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

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his UN address in 2014, suggested an annual Day of Yoga on June 21, 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] Following the initial proposal, the UN adopted the draft resolution, entitled "Day of Yoga", in 2014.[4] The consultations were convened by the delegation of India.[5] In 2015 Reserve Bank of India issued a 10 rupees commemorative coin to mark the International Day of Yoga.[6] In April 2017, UN Postal Administration (UNPA) issued 10 stamps on Asanas on a single sheet to mark International Day of Yoga.[7]

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.[8]

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. In Indian calendars, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The second[9] full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima. In Hindu mythology, 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).[10]

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."[11] 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."[12]

In practice[edit]

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.[13][14][15] Similar days have been held in cities in India and around the world each year since then.[16][17][18][19][20][21]


An Associated Press report in 2015 noted that the first "International Yoga Day"[22] 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",[22] 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.[22]

The Christian Science Monitor wrote in 2016 that the 2014 United Nations resolution had been "wildly popular"[23] but noted that yoga had a "meditative component"[23] 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".[23]

The Week stated in 2015 that the government of India's purpose in holding International Days of Yoga was to have yoga recognized around the world as "India's cultural property",[24] citing India's minister of yoga, Shripad Yesso Naik as stating "We're trying to establish to the world that it's ours."[24] 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.[24] The article noted that Christian evangelicals agreed with the Indian government that yoga was "primarily a Hindu spiritual practice",[24] 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"[24] agreeing views of strongly religious Hindus and Christians were "historically flawed".[24]

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. ^ a b "UN declares June 21 as 'International Day of Yoga'". The Times of India. 11 December 2014.
  4. ^ "International Yoga Day 2021: Theme, History, Quotes, Benefits, Importance". S A NEWS. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  5. ^ "UN General Assembly to hold informal consultations on International Day of Yoga". The Economic Times. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  6. ^ 10 rupees coin of 2015 – International Day of Yoga,
  7. ^ "UN to issue 10 stamps of 'asanas' on International Yoga Day". Business Standard India. 19 April 2017.
  8. ^ "United Nations General Assembly adopts Resolution on International Day of Yoga with a record number of 177 country co-sponsors". Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Guru Purnima 2018".
  10. ^ Sadhguru, J (3 July 2012). "The first Guru is born". Times of India. Times News Service. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  11. ^ International Day of Yoga: A Historic Event. YouTube. 21 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Speaks on International Yoga Day". 12 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Massive turnout for Yoga day". 21 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Largest yoga class". Guinness world record. 21 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  15. ^ "PM Modi Leads Yoga Session, India Sets Guinness Records: 10 Developments". NDTV. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  16. ^ "PM Modi To Attend International Yoga Day At Chandigarh". NDTV. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "International Yoga Day 2017: A Look at the Celebrations Around the World". 7 June 2016. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  19. ^ "International Yoga Day: Record 10,000 people participate in event in China's largest ever congregation". 25 June 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  20. ^ "International Yoga Day | Rajasthan records biggest yoga gathering". The Hindu. 21 June 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  21. ^ "International Yoga Day 2019: 5th International Yoga Day Celebrations in Chandigarh". Archived from the original on 21 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Associated Press (21 June 2015). "Yoga fans around world take to their mats for first International Yoga Day". The Guardian.
  23. ^ a b c McCarthy, Simone (21 June 2016). "Why is the United Nations promoting yoga?".
  24. ^ a b c d e f The Week Staff (7 February 2015). "Does yoga belong to India?". The Week.

External links[edit]