The idea of an International Day of Yoga was the first proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi during his speech at the UNGA, on 27 September 2014.
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
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.
72 students and teachers from the City Montessori School of Lucknow, India will be performing yogic exercises at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of International Day of Yoga, 21 June 2017.
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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 first 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.”
Happy international yoga day! Namaste
-Yoga Guide Team
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