International Day of Yoga: Why is it celebrated on June 21st and facts you should know

The word, ‘Yoga’ is derived from a Sanskrit word, which means to connect or to unite. June 21st is celebrated as the International Yoga Day to commemorate this spiritual and physical practice of cleansing. On this day, the world binds in spiritual, physical and mental synergy and embarks on a greater journey of self-discovery.

Asoke Mukherji, India’s permanent representative, introduced the draft resolution on December 11th, 2014. This draft received a positive response and support from 177 members of the United Nations General Assembly. These members also co-sponsored the resolution, which is the highest number of sponsors any UNGA resolution has ever received.

International Yoga Day is an invaluable gift

Shri Narendra Modi in the United Nations said “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. Since the ancient history of Yoga, 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 nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day”.

History of Yoga in India is a remarkable Journey

The founder of the Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, supported and applauded the movement. He said, “This could be a kind of a foundation stone to make a scientific approach to the inner well-being of the human being, a worldwide thing… It’s a tremendous step for the world.”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of Art of Living, appreciated the efforts of Shri Modi and stated, “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 very first International Day of Yoga (June 21st, 2015) at Rajpath, New Delhi was set to a great start. It saw a whopping 35,985 common people, dignitaries from eighty-four nations including Shri Modi himself as attendees, performing twenty-one asanas for thirty-five minutes. It became the largest yoga class ever organized with the largest number of participants.

History of Yoga in India

The world realised the power of Yoga as early as in the year 1893 when Swami Vivekananda addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, America. He introduced the world to the Eastern gurus and Yoga, which people accepted and studied while going on to make it a part of their day-to-day life.

Why is June 21st celebrated as the International Day of Yoga?

The Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi offered these reasons while proposing June 21st as the World Yoga Day:

June 21st is the summer solstice when the North Pole zooms towards the Sun. For Yoga practitioners, this day marks the transition of the Sun from North to South, making it the perfect time to begin meditation.

The second full moon after summer solstice is Guru Poornima. Shiva, the first Yogi, begun imparting the knowledge of Yoga on this day, making it an important day to pursue this spiritual practice. Yoga proved to have a successful history in India and now emerged as an International presence.

It is also the longest day of the year.

Objectives of International Day of Yoga

  • Besides taking the journey of modern Yoga from the cities to villages, the objectives of this day are:
  • To bring awareness about the benefits of Yoga and help people connect with nature
  • To reduce the health challenges like obesity, hypertension and lifestyle ailments
  • To help people connect more on a spiritual level and spread peace around the world
  • Making people aware of physical and mental changes as well as challenges by helping them connect within

Yoga is a spiritual practice and is growing in popularity. Be it for health ailments, lifestyle challenges or the quest of knowledge-seeking; this holistic art is worth exploring! We should learn from the Historical practices of Yoga in India.