International Day of Yoga
International Day of Yoga 2016 in Chandigarh
|Official name||International Day of Yoga – IDY|
|Also called||Yoga Day|
|Significance||Official United Nations promotion of global health, harmony and peace|
|Celebrations||Practice of yoga, meditation, spreading awareness about yoga and adopting it in one's lifestyle by discussing its benefits|
|Next time||21 June 2019|
|First time||21 June 2015|
|Related to||Yoga, meditation, Indian Religions, Indian History, cultural performances|
International Day of Yoga, or commonly and unofficially referred to as Yoga Day, is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015. An international day for yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice originated in India. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN address 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.
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
The origins of yoga are shrouded in mystery and mythology while some historians find many clues in the practices of Himalayan Shamans as still be seen in Tibet and Nepal. The Lord Shiva is considered the father of ancient yoga while some historian claims that Patanjali is the father of modern yoga.
By the 5th century, BC yoga was becoming well known and begun to appear in Vedic Scripture. The word Yoga is a Sanskrit word and it comes from the root word Yuja which basically means to bind to align to hold.
Following this initial proposal, the UNGA held informal consultations on the draft resolution entitled "International Day of Yoga", on 14 October 2014. The consultations were convened by the delegation of India. In 2015 Reserve Bank of India issued a 10 rupees commemorative coin to mark the International Day of Yoga.
On 11 December 2014, India's Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. 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.
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  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). Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.
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." 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."
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 Narendra Modi and dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi. The day was observed by millions across the world. NCC cadets entered the Limca Book of Records for the "largest yoga performance simultaneously by a single uniformed youth organisation" by performing at multiple venues.
The event at Rajpath established two Guinness world records awarded to the Ministry of AYUSH, and received by the minister Shripad Yesso Naik. They were for the largest yoga class, of 35,985 people, and for the largest number of participating nationalities (84 nations). In San Francisco, 5,000 participants gathered in the Marina Green park to practice yoga.
A senior government official said, "The government of India has decided to take forward the momentum created by International Day of Yoga, 2015 with greater and more active participation of youth during the current year celebrations." The ministry organized an event titled "The National Event of Mass Yoga Demonstration" at Chandigarh, which was to be attended by the Indian Prime Minister.
India's Permanent Mission to the UN organized celebrations at the United Nations on 20 and 21 June 2016. A special event titled "Conversation with Yoga Masters – Yoga for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals" was the centerpiece. Jaggi Vasudev was the main speaker at the event.
In Lucknow, the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi participated in the event and practiced yoga along with 51,000 participants. Many business leaders in India also took part in the event. In New York, thousands of participants gathered to practice yoga on Times Square. Japan created a Parliamentary League for the promotion of yoga just prior to the event, in April 2017. In China, the largest gathering was 10,000 participants in the city of Wuxi. In Athens, the event took place on 25 June as part of the Greek Open Yoga Day and in Kyiv, the event happened on 18 June and gathered a few hundred participants. In Ireland, participants met in the round room of the City Hall in Dublin.
The event in Dehradun was held at the Forest Research Institute. PM Modi led an estimated 50,000 volunteers to mark the fourth anniversary of International Yoga Day. The theme for 2018 was "Yoga for Peace". Over 100,000 people gathered at a yoga session in Kota, Rajasthan and performed yoga together, earning the city a Guinness World Record.
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