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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Explained: Why International Yoga Day is observed on June 21

The United Nations theme for this year is “Yoga for Health - Yoga at Home”, which takes into account the social distancing measures announced by most countries.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2020 6:47:16 pm
yoga day, yoga day 2020, why is yoga day celebrated, why is June 21 yoga day People practise Yoga on International Yoga Day at Lodhi Garden, New Delhi, on Sunday. ( Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

Coinciding with the summer solstice, June 21 is observed as International Yoga Day, recognising the many benefits of the ancient Indian practice of yoga. The year 2020 marks the 6th International Yoga Day.

The United Nations theme for this year is “Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home”, which takes into account the social distancing measures announced by most countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today (Sunday) shared his remarks on the occasion.

The UN proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga by passing a resolution on December 11, 2014, during the 69th session of the General Assembly. At the session, Modi had said, “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action … a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

The Yoga Day celebrations in 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi, with Modi and other dignitaries in attendance, had created two Guinness World Records, performing around 21 yoga asanas. The first record was set for housing 35,985 people and being the world’s largest yoga session. The second was for having the most number (84) of nationalities participating in it.

yoga day, yoga day 2020, why is yoga day celebrated, why is June 21 yoga day Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the head of the participants at Rajpath, on the International Day of Yoga in 2015. (Express Photo: Neeraj Priyadarshi)

The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of a person’s body and consciousness.

“Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness,” the United Nations website says.

According to its famous practitioner BKS Iyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”

In its ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ from 2019, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) lists Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Satkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma among popular yoga ‘sadhanas’.

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The AYUSH protocol describes the folding-hands logo of Yoga Day as reflecting “the union of individual consciousness with that of universal consciousness, a perfect harmony between mind and body, man and nature, the holistic approach to health and well-being. The brown leaves in the logo symbolize the earth element, the green leaves of nature, blue the fire element while the sun symbolises the source of energy and inspiration.”

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