International Yoga Day
Today, June 21 2015, has been marked as a historical day! Today’s dawn saw thousands of people doing yoga to celebrate the first International Yoga Day. June 21 was declared as the World Yoga day by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014 as a response to the call of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for declaring this day as the International day of Yoga during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014.
What is Yoga?
The dictionary defines Yoga as, “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.”
Yoga is sometimes described as one of the forms of exercises that keep our body fit. However, yoga is not only a way to exercise your body. It is, in fact, a way of life! But how?
For this, let’s understand the origin of the term ‘Yoga,’ which, when pronounced in Hindi, sounds ‘Yog’. It is derived from the Sanskrit term, “Yuj.” ‘Yog’ in Hindi means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite.’ When you do yoga, you attempt to unite your consciousness or soul with the universal consciousness or spirit. Yoga is the union of body, mind and soul!
Yoga is a science. The science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul! This science, when adopted, becomes a perfect way of life.
The science of Yoga has various branches – Gyan Yoga meaning the knowledge or philosophy, Bhakti Yoga meaning the path of devotional bliss, Karma Yoga meaning the path of blissful action, and Raja Yoga meaning the path to control one’s mind. Yoga asana or the yoga postures are only one of the aspects of Raja.
If you still doubt whether yoga is actually a way of life, observe a child, specifically an infant or a toddler, for a day. Now compare the movements of the child with the various yoga postures. Did you find similarities? This is a question that needs to be answered by yourself!
Why 21 June was selected to be celebrated as World Yoga Day?
There is actually no specific reason for this. However, some reasons for this are being explained by many websites. It is being said that because June 21 is the summer solstice having the longest day, itr has its astronomical importance.
Somewhere, it is being mentioned that according to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva taught yoga to his disciples for the first time on this day but there is no evidence about this.
In fact, a two-day conference called‘Yoga: A Science for World Peace’ was organized by The Art of Living and SVYASA Yoga University, Bengaluru, jointly with Yoga Portuguese Confederation of Lisbon, Portugal on 4-5 December 2011 at The Art of living International Centre in Bengaluru. In this conference itself, a proclamation was signed for having UN and UNESCO declare June 21 as ‘World Yoga Day.’ It was this idea that was carried forward by all the concerned organizations and individuals in selecting June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
What was the First International Yoga Day Celebration like!
It was a record breaking event at Rajpath in New Delhi where the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi led the whole nation into doing Yoga in the morning.
The Guinness World Records also kept a tab on the event to be later considered as the “largest yoga demonstration or class at a single venue.” Around 35000 people were present at Rajpath.
Similar Yoga events were organized across the country where in most of the states, the chief ministers led people in doing yoga on the first World Yoga Day.
Indians as well as residents of other countries also celebrated International Yoga Day by performing various yoga asana. The Foreign Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj is present at UN’s headquarters in New York for the Yoga Day celebrations in Times Square.
Learn how to do Surya Namaskar Yoga Steps
Photo credit: NDTV