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, symbolising the union of body and consciousness.
Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity. Recognising its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131. The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’, months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed the idea.
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
International Yoga Day 2019 Theme: Climate Action
The fifth annual International Day of Yoga will be celebrated at the United Nations on Thursday, 20 June 2019, with “Yoga with Gurus,” followed by a panel discussion on 21 June.
The main event in India this year will be held in Ranchi and is expected to draw about 50,000 participants. The event will take place at at Prabhat Tara ground where PM Modi will perform Yoga along with 18,000 people, including Chief Minister Raghubar Das. In 2018, the event was held in Dehradun 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.
History of Yoga Day:
The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In the yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi Guru.
PM Narendra Modi proposed 21st June as the day of Yoga as it 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.
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.
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.”