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How June 21 Came To Be Celebrated As International Yoga Day

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The idea of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 27 September 2014. (Photo by Sanjeev Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Yoga is extremely beneficial and necessary for all humans and should be practiced every morning. Officially, June 21 is celebrated as International Yoga Day. It is observed across the globe by practicing yoga, meditation, holding seminars/talks, and various other cultural activities.

On 11 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as International Yoga Day. In the Indian culture, yoga has been a mental, physical and spiritual practice for almost 5,000 years. Yoga originated in ancient India where people used meditation to change their body and mind. The first “Yoga Day” was observed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the UN General Assembly in 2015. This year the world is celebrating the fifth International Day of Yoga with the theme of “Climate Action”.

In India, the country of the origin of yoga practices, many yoga events were organized in big and small cities this International Yoga Day. In order to perform yoga under the guidance of trained yoga gurus, and to spread awareness about its health and spiritual benefits, people gathered at prescribed places early morning.

PM Narendra Modi led the celebrations of this year’s International Yoga Day from Ranchi and also delivered a speech, urging all the countries and their citizens to participate in yoga practices and spread awareness about its benefits.

Many other activities related to yoga were held in the national capital, Delhi and surrounding areas. Several yoga sessions were scheduled at different places, and many schools enrolled thousands of children from Delhi to learn yoga this International Yoga Day.

Every year International Yoga Day is celebrated with a theme. For 2019 it is “Climate Action”. It was “Yoga for Peace”, “Yoga for Health”, “Youth Connect”, and “Yoga for Harmony and Peace” for the years 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 respectively.

History Of International Yoga Day

The announcement of International Yoga Day was a historical moment for India. It took less than three months for the UN General Assembly to declare June 21 as World Yoga Day. On September 27, 2014, during his speech, PM Narendra Modi had called for the world to celebrate International Yoga Day, so that people around the world could enjoy the manifold benefits of yoga. It was finally announced on December 11, 2014. For the first time in history an initiative proposed by a country was implemented by the UN body within 90 days. This resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly under the Global Health and Foreign Policy, so that people around the world can get a holistic view of their health and well being.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga with the jawans of Indian army during the International Yoga Day celebrations. (Photo by Diwakar Prasad/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

In his 2014 address to the UN General Assembly, Narendra Modi said, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the 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 you.”

In order to change the lifestyle of the Indian population as well as the people of the world in a positive manner, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the UN General Assembly and proposed to dedicate one day specifically for yoga. He asked world leaders to adopt International Yoga Day in the light of declining health status due to the negative impacts of climate change. It was suggested to make 21st June the International Yoga Day, because it is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere regions, and is very important for people in many parts of the world.

World Yoga Day Celebration

The purpose of this day is to spread awareness among people on how regular practice of yoga improves mental, physical and intellectual health. It helps in changing people’s lifestyles positively and enhances the level of mental and physical well being. All the members and supervisors of UN organisations and other international and region-specific organisations, civil society, government and non-governmental organizations gather every year to celebrate International Yoga Day with the sole aim of making health and well being a global priority.

The International Yoga Day is supported by various global leaders. It is celebrated by people from more than 170 countries, including the United States, China, Canada, and many others.

On Thursday, June 20, “Yoga vs. Guru” was included in the events scheduled in the United Nations’ International Yoga Day celebrations, followed by a panel discussion on June 21. Similarly, many yoga programs were organized around the world, where people from different walks of life gathered to practice yoga.

A Few Benefits Of Yoga

1. It helps in relieving tension and acts as a method of self-help for people in stressful situations.

2. The practice of yoga promotes better physical and mental health among people.

3. It gives people a chance to reach the highest level of physical and mental health by helping them attain good health and a healthy lifestyle.

4. Yoga establishes a relationship between health and sustainable health development.

5. Regular yoga practice helps conquer all health challenges.

International Yoga Day has been adopted to fulfill the following objectives:

1. Telling people the benefits of yoga.

2. Connecting people with nature through the practice of yoga.

3. Promoting meditation as a routine for better mental health.

4. To create awareness around the world about the overall benefits of yoga.

5. To reduce the rate of lifestyle-related health issues across the world.

6. Dedicating a specific date helps in getting large communities to take time out of their busy schedules to spend a day for health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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