What is Yoga and Why do we Celebrate International Yoga Day?

Written by Shiksha Press

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Unveiling the Essence of Yoga: Its Roots, Relevance and Why We Celebrate IYD

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World Yoga Day 2023: “Yoga,” a term rooted in Sanskrit, implies a union or a bond, embodying the synchrony of body and consciousness. A practice tracing back to ancient India, Yoga has now found its way into the daily regimen of people worldwide. It’s no longer just an exercise but a lifestyle that millions ardently follow.

Recognizing its universal appeal and manifold benefits, the United Nations declared 21st June as International Day of Yoga on December 11, 2014, through Resolution 69/131.

It aims to accentuate the significance of this ancient practice and encourage more people worldwide to incorporate it into their lives.

The Origin and Significance of Yoga

The genesis of Yoga is steeped in the spiritual soil of ancient India, blending philosophy with practical application. It is more than a series of physical postures; it is a comprehensive lifestyle fostering harmony among the mind, body, and soul.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, referred to Yoga as an “invaluable gift from our ancient tradition.”

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He emphasized that it advocates the unity of mind and body, thought and action, and its holistic approach to health and well-being. It offers a pathway to discover the sense of oneness with oneself, the world, and nature.

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga, with its asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and dhyana (meditation), promotes numerous physical and mental health benefits.

From improving flexibility and strength to enhancing balance and endurance, Yoga facilitates overall physical health. On the mental front, it helps to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, fostering emotional equilibrium.

The World Health Organization has recognized Yoga’s role in promoting healthier choices and lifestyle patterns that cultivate good health.

By reducing physical inactivity, Yoga helps combat the leading causes of death worldwide, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

The Globalization of Yoga

From its roots in ancient India, Yoga has proliferated across borders, striking a chord with health and fitness enthusiasts worldwide.

The western world has particularly embraced it, given its holistic approach to health and fitness, which transcends mere physicality. Yoga’s emphasis on mental clarity and spiritual tranquillity resonates with individuals seeking a balanced life amidst modern chaos.

The Significance of International Yoga Day

The International Day of Yoga is not just a day of observance but a global celebration of this timeless practice. Endorsed by a record 175 member states, this initiative emphasizes the universal relevance and appeal of Yoga.

The Yog Diwas encourages global citizens to adopt Yoga in their lives, highlighting its potential to contribute to broader health goals and personal well-being.

Why do we Celebrate International Yoga Day?

International Yoga Day, celebrated every year on June 21, is a global event dedicated to raising awareness about the manifold benefits of the ancient Indian practice of Yoga. But why do we celebrate this day? Here’s a deeper look at its significance.

Promoting Global Health: The World Health Organization recognizes Yoga’s potential to promote health, reduce risk factors for diseases, and prevent lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders.

International Yoga Day serves to spread this knowledge, making people worldwide more conscious of their health and lifestyle choices.

Highlighting Yoga’s Holistic Benefits: Beyond physical wellness, Yoga fosters mental and emotional wellbeing. Through practices like meditation and mindful breathing, Yoga can help reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and depression, and promote mental clarity and peace.

International Yoga Day underscores these holistic benefits of Yoga, encouraging its adoption for comprehensive wellbeing.

Celebrating Yoga’s Cultural Heritage: As an ancient practice with roots in India, Yoga is more than a set of exercises—it’s a rich cultural heritage.

International Yoga Day pays tribute to this heritage, showcasing the depth and breadth of Yoga’s philosophical underpinnings and its influence on holistic living.

Encouraging Unity and Harmony: The term ‘Yoga‘ means ‘union,’ representing the unity of mind, body, and spirit. On a broader scale, it symbolizes the interconnectedness of humanity.

International Yoga Day, therefore, encourages unity and harmony, promoting the message of universal brotherhood and peace.

Boosting Awareness and Adoption: Despite its benefits, Yoga’s practice isn’t universal. International Yoga Day plays a crucial role in raising awareness, dispelling myths, and encouraging more people to incorporate Yoga into their lifestyle, thereby contributing to their overall wellbeing.

In essence, we celebrate International Yoga Day to acknowledge and spread the comprehensive benefits of Yoga, ranging from physical health to mental wellbeing, and to foster a global culture of health, peace, and unity.

In conclusion, Yoga, as late B. K. S. Iyengar, one of its most renowned practitioners stated, cultivates a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and bestows skill in performing one’s actions.

It is more than a physical activity – it is a way of life that nurtures the mind, invigorates the body, and revitalizes the spirit.

By celebrating International Yoga Day, we acknowledge this ancient practice’s profound impact, fostering a worldwide culture of health, peace, and unity.

Join us as we celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21st, promoting Yoga’s integral role in enhancing physical and mental wellbeing.

Explore the significance of the 2023 theme, ‘Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, emphasizing unity and peace.

List of Earlier Themes of International Yoga Day

Year International Yoga Day Theme
2015 Yoga for Harmony and Peace
2016 Yoga for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
2017 Yoga for Health
2018 Yoga for Peace
2019 Yoga for Heart
2020 Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family
2021 Yoga for Wellness
2022 Yoga for Humanity

FAQ related to International Yoga Day

What is International Yoga Day and when is it celebrated?

International Yoga Day, celebrated on June 21st, is a global observance promoting the benefits of Yoga.

Why do we celebrate International Yoga Day?

We celebrate International Yoga Day to raise awareness about the holistic benefits of Yoga for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Who initiated the concept of International Yoga Day?

The concept of International Yoga Day was introduced by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

How can one participate in International Yoga Day?

One can participate in International Yoga Day by attending Yoga sessions, workshops, or practicing Yoga individually or with a group.

What is the significance of the 2023 theme for International Yoga Day, “Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”?

“Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” emphasizes Yoga’s role in promoting global unity, peace, and mutual respect.

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