On December 11, 2014, the United Nations proclaimed June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. The proposal was first introduced by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and was endorsed by a record 175 member states. In his address to the General Assembly, Prime Minister Modi 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 nature.” Since then, International Yoga Day has been celebrated every year on June 21st as a way to raise awareness about yoga, and the many benefits that the practice has to offer.
The first International Yoga Day celebration took place on June 21, 2015 with nearly 36,000 people, including Prime Minister Modi and many other high-profile political figures from all over the world, performing 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes in New Delhi. This Yoga Day celebration set two world records – one for being the world’s largest yoga session (with 35,985 people), and the other for having the most number of nationalities (84) participating in it. The first record was eventually broken three years later on June 21, 2018 when over 100,000 participants took a yoga lesson in India.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India. Deriving from Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. It involves movement, meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical well-being.
The overall philosophy of yoga is about connecting the mind, body, and spirit. There are many different types and styles of yoga, including Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga, Kripalu yoga, Kundalini yoga, Power yoga, Yin yoga, Prenatal yoga, and Restorative yoga. Some benefits that yoga has to offer are increased flexibility and fitness, mindfulness, and relaxation.
International Yoga Day Theme For 2021: ‘Yoga For Well-Being’
The theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga is ‘Yoga For Well-Being,’ focusing on how the practice of yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual.
Last year’s theme was ‘Yoga For Health – Yoga At Home,” which took into account the social distancing measures announced by most countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yoga By The Numbers
- About 36 million Americans practice yoga, with 89% of US yogis practicing for one to five hours per day on average.
- The number of US yogis increased by over 50% in four years.
- At any given time, more than 60 million posts about yoga are trending on social media.
- Women account for 72% of yoga practitioners.
- 59% of yoga practitioners in the US believe that yoga helps them sleep better.
5 Ways To Celebrate International Yoga Day 2021
Take Part In The International Day of Yoga Virtual Event: To celebrate the 7th Annual International Day of Yoga on June 21st, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations will be hosting an online celebration that will be broadcast live on UN WebTV from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST. The event will feature demonstrations of yoga exercises (asanas) to improve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. There will also be an interactive panel discussion on ‘Yoga For Well-Being.’
Attend An Online (Or In-Person) Yoga Class: If you’ve never tried yoga before, get out of your comfort zone and take a free online yoga class on International Yoga Day. If you’d rather take a class in person, see if any yoga studios near you are offering introductory yoga classes on International Yoga Day.
Treat Yourself To A New Yoga Mat: If you’re a yoga enthusiast who has been practicing yoga for a while, treat yourself to a new mat on International Yoga Day this year. That’s because old, worn-out mats can affect how you practice, and even your health.
Do Yoga At Work: June 21st happens to fall on a Monday this year. So, if you’re unable to take an online yoga class or get to your favorite yoga studio on International Yoga Day due to work obligations, break up your work day and keep yourself centered by doing a few yoga poses at your desk.
Introduce A Friend To Yoga: Do you have a friend who has been asking you about yoga for a while, but your friend still hasn’t tried it? If that’s the case, use International Yoga Day as a way to introduce your friend to yoga. You can either recommend yoga studios or online classes to your friend, or maybe you can even do a yoga session together on International Yoga Day.