History of International Yoga Day


International Day of Yoga Antarāshtriya Yog Divas; IAST: Antarāṣṭrīya Yog Divas), or commonly and unofficially referred to as Yoga Day, is celebrated annually on June 21 since its inception in 2015. An international day for yoga was declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 11, 2014, almost unanimously. Yoga is a physical, mental, and/ or spiritual practice attributed mostly to India. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN Address suggested the date of June 21, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares special significance in many parts of the world.

The idea of an International Day of Yoga was first proposed by Narendra Modi during his speech at the UNGA, on September 27, 2014.He stated:”Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; 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.

Yoga teacher training in India

On December 11, 2014, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who adopted the text without a vote. This initiative found support from many global leaders. A total of 175 nations co-sponsored the resolution and had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.

When proposing June 21 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 spiritual movement in India voiced their support for the initiative. Founder of Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, stated that “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.”Founder of Art of Living, Ravi Shankar lauded the efforts of Modi, stating that “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.”

2016 International Day of Yoga
In India, the ministry of AYUSH released a letter to all government departments stating that “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 will organize an event titled “The National Event of Mass Yoga Demonstration” at Chandigarh, which will be attended by the Indian Prime Minister.

India’s Permanent Mission to the UN will be organizing celebrations at the United Nations on June 20 and 21. A special event titled “Conversation with Yoga Masters – Yoga for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” is the centerpiece. Sadhguru will be the main speaker at the event.

2015 International Day of Yoga
The first International Day of Yoga was observed world over on June 21, 2015. The Ministry of AYUSH made the necessary arrangements in India. 35,985 people, including Narendra Modi and a large number of dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 yoga asanas (postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi. The day devoted to yoga was observed by millions across the world.[13] 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 AYSH minister Shripad Yesso Naik. The two records were for the largest yoga class, featuring 35,985 people, and for the largest number of participating nationalities (84 nations).

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