International Yoga Day 2021: From the first to the seventh edition
On International Yoga Day on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yoga became a source of inner strength for people and a medium to transform negativity to creativity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Yoga shows us the road from stress to strength and from negativity to creativity. Yoga tells us that so many problems might be out there, but we have infinite solutions within ourselves. We are the biggest source of energy in the universe," PM Modi said as he addressed the nation on the seventh International Yoga Day. "Today even medical science lays emphasis on the healing process, besides medical treatment. Yoga helps in the healing process," PM Modi added.
This year, the theme of the International Day of Yoga is 'Yoga For Wellness', and the focus will be on practicing yoga for physical and mental well-being.
President Ram Nath Kovind, vice president Venkaiah Naidu, several union ministers and citizens across the country performed yoga on the occasion. However, the celebrations and events were mured and held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
International Yoga Day has been celebrated every year on June 21 since 2015.
The proposal to observe an International Yoga Day was first introduced by PM Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. “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,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi proposed that June 21 be picked for celebrating International Yoga Day as it marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – the longest day of the year and considered auspicious in many cultures.
The United Nations, recognizing its universal appeal, proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131 on December 11, 2014. The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
The draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. The resolution notes “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.”
The first-ever International Yoga Day saw the participation of nearly 36,000 people, including PM Modi and dignitaries from 84 nations, who performed 21 asanas for 35 minutes at Delhi’s Rajpath. The International Day of Yoga created two records, a Guinness World Record for the largest yoga class at a single venue and the other for the highest number of nationalities to have participated.
“From the Upanishads, comes the idea of yoga to transform human consciousness through control of body and senses through constant practice. The body is the vehicle for the realisation of the Supreme Being,” PM Modi said during his speech at the event.
The day billed as one to promote "harmony and peace" also triggered a controversy with some Muslim organisations saying yoga is essentially a Hindu religious practice and is against Islam. Authorities denied the charge and said that participation in the yoga day is not mandatory.
Celebrations were held in 192 of the 193 UN member countries, except Yemen, and events were held in 251 cities in six continents with 30,000 people performing yoga in Times Square in New York.
Yoga, an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice, originated in India thousands of years ago. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and mind.