- International Yoga Day will be observed by millions of people worldwide
- The event was established at the behest of a world leader several years back
- Yoga has surged in popularity in the United States and elsewhere in recent years
- In New York, people gathered at the Governors Island in the backdrop of the iconic Statue of Liberty to participate in the Yoga Day celebration.
We are celebrating the International Yoga Day today!
The ancient practice remains very popular in India, though the past few years have seen its popularity skyrocket in Western nations, with some 37 million Americans alone reportedly practicing it in 2016.
Here’s all you need to know about what International Yoga Day is, when it is, what the theme for 2018 will be, how to celebrate it and some notable events taking place in U.S, India, U.K and throughout the world.
What is International Yoga Day?
International Yoga Day is a global event that raises awareness throughout the world of the benefits of practicing yoga.
The idea for International Yoga Day was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 2014 United Nations General Assembly address.
Modi stated: ‘Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.’
On December 11, 2014, India’s representative to the United Nations, Asoke Mukherji, introduced a resolution to declare June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and a day of special significance in many cultures throughout the world, as International Yoga Day.
The resolution achieved much support and was quickly passed, with June 21, 2015 slated as the inaugural International Yoga Day.
When is International Yoga Day 2018?
International Yoga Day 2018 will be held on Thursday, June 21.
International Yoga Day History
International Yoga Day celebrates yoga, an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. Today, yoga, which originated in India, is one of the world’s most popular pastime activities.
In September of 2014, India’s Prime Minister proposed the establishment of an International Day of Yoga to promote international peace and cooperation. His request was granted by the United Nations General Assembly in December, 2014 in an effort to highlight the benefits of yoga to physical well-being and to world peace and development. On June 21st, 2015, the first International Day of Yoga was celebrated worldwide, leading to a new Guinness Record for the largest yoga lesson, consisting of nearly 36,000 participants, in India’s capital, New Delhi.
Why was June 21 selected to be International Yoga Day?
June 21 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed this date at the United Nations General Assembly 2014.
International Yoga Day 2018 theme
The theme for International Yoga Day 2018 is Yoga for Peace.
International Yoga Day celebrations
Millions of people all around the world observe International Yoga Day by attending yoga training sessions, seminars, retreats and workshops to further their knowledge of the ancient practice.
How is Yoga Day celebrated?
Yoga training programmes, camps, retreats, seminars, workshops are organised at group and mass level. People gather in groups and perform various asana and pranayams. They are also made aware about the importance of the practice and how it helps in curing and healing.
International Yoga Day Celebration in U.S
Hundreds of yoga enthusiasts gathered to flex their body at historic monuments of the US, including the Capitol Hill, kick-starting a host of events planned this week to mark the fourth anniversary of the International Day of Yoga.
In New York, people gathered at the Governors Island in the backdrop of the iconic Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline to participate in the Yoga Day commemoration organised by the Consulate General of India.
The two-hour event ‘Let Yoga Govern Your Life’ organised yesterday by the Consulate General of India in New York, included meditation and a guided yoga session based on ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ conducted with the help of yoga demonstrators and teachers.
People from various backgrounds, accompanied with their families, participated in the yoga sessions, performing the Surya Namaskar, Pranayama, various yoga asanas and breathing exercises.
Among the highlights of the event was an impressive Mallakhambh performance by children. Specially designed yoga kits and T-shirts were distributed to those in attendance.
Addressing the gathering, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Chief Guest for the event, said yoga is a “unique way” to approach an individual’s health and well-being. A yoga practitioner herself, Maloney said she considers the ancient practice one of the best ways to exercise and relax at the same time.
“Practicing yoga has been shown to decrease stress, fatigue, and alleviate chronic pains, as well as improving physical fitness. I know first-hand the benefits of practicing yoga. It is an essential part of my life, I practice it as often as I can, and it helps me to find balance and peace,” she added.
She said about 15 per cent Americans, over 36 million people, practice the ancient Indian science today, a testament to both the immense benefits of practicing yoga as well as the convenience and accessibility of the discipline to people of all ages and abilities.
She added that the long and productive friendship between India and the US has benefited both countries, lauding the Indian-American community for being a vital part of New York City.
India’s Consul General in New York Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty highlighted yoga’s universal appeal and the role of the ancient Indian practice in bringing together the cultures and people of America and India.
“Nothing better connects the two countries than yoga because it epitomizes and is a good example of our relationship, that something which originated in India is so popular here. Celebrating the 4th International Yoga Day sends out a big message of the importance of yoga in our daily lives” in both the US and India and across the world, Chakravorty told PTI.
Chakravorty, who joined those present in performing various yoga and meditation exercises, said the extent to which yoga now permeates people’s lives is tremendous. Referring to hour-long yoga sessions organized daily at the World Trade Centre buildings, he said yoga has now become part of the corporate culture. Yoga is a rapidly growing trend in the U.S. with an 80% increase in practitioners between 2012 and 2015, according to estimates.
In Washington, hundreds of health enthusiasts gathered at the iconic US Capitol Saturday morning to flex their body under the guidance of a trained Indian yoga teacher.
This venue at the Capitol Hill where presidential swearing in ceremonies are held every four years, this morning experienced one of the largest gatherings of yoga exercises in Washington DC.
“It shows that huge enthusiasm that yoga has gathered amongst all of us and all over the world,” Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Singh Sarna said in his brief remarks to the participants of the fourth International Day of Yoga who had gathered since early morning with their yoga mats at the Capitol overlooking the National Mall.
“I think, the day is not far that you will have the whole space between the monument and the Capitol filled up,” Sarna told reporters thereafter.
Yoga was always a popular discipline, but “qualitative and quantitative change” has come since 2014 when under the guidance and inspiration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the United Nations recognized June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, he said.
“It recognised it through a resolution which had a record co-sponsorship of 177 countries. This is an endorsement like no other, that the world has accepted as the Prime Minister called it one of the ancient gifts of Indian sages to humanity,” Sarna said
Welcoming the participants, Sarna noted that Yoga is widely embraced by the American people as a survey conducted in 2016 showed that there were 36.7 million Yoga practitioners in the US.
In his special message on the occasion, Senator Tim Kaine said that while the idea of International Yoga day is new, the art is built upon ancient Indian principles born of a desire to maintain inner well-being.
“Yoga symbolizes unity of mind, body and spirit,” Kaine said.
Congressman Gerald E Connolly said that this celebration is a “testament to the transformative nature of yoga” and the Indian-American community’s indelible mark on the cultural fabric of the United States.
International Yoga Day events
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be participating in an International Yoga Day event in Dehrandun in which more than 60,000 people are expected to perform yoga.
The noted Yoga guru Ramdev will also be conducting a yoga session in the city of Kota.
Outside of India, millions are expected to participate in International Yoga Day events all around the world, including in major cities like London, Paris and New York City, where hundreds are expected to partake in a yoga session in the city’s iconic Times Square.
International Yoga Day Celebration in U.K
The High Commission of India in London and India Tourism’s UK division staged a yoga takeover of the Coca Cola London Eye, teaming up with UK-based yoga organisations to unite in a so-called ‘Wheel of Yoga’, on Sunday.
The first-of-its-kind event was classified as “yoga for peace” and took place within 32 pods of the London Eye on the banks of the river Thames to celebrate the opening event of the International Day of Yoga, marked worldwide on June 21.
India’s deputy high commissioner to the UK, Dinesh Patnaik, said, “The ancient tradition of Yoga with all its attendant physical, mental and spiritual benefits was not for an individual or a particular community, but the entire world.”
Yogis, both new to yoga and with decades of practice between them, performed gentle asanas and meditative breathing as the London Eye rotated, with the aim of kicking off the week in which the UN designation International Day of Yoga will be celebrated globally.
Hundreds will descend upon Trafalgar Square on Tuesday to participate in yoga sessions as well as Indian cultural performances in collaboration with the Mayor of London.
Award-winning classical dancer Arunima Kumar, Artistic Director of the Arunima Kumar Dance Company, will be leading the cultural aspect of the event with a specially choreographed piece titled ‘Nirvana’ and a Bollywood finale with actress and mindfulness coach Raageshwari.
“The aim of this particular celebration is to bring forth, for the benefit of all, the best yogic practices and types to benefit all ages, especially audiences like small children, pregnant women, the specially-abled,” an Indian high commission statement said.
International Day of Yoga Celebrations in London, organized by Bhakti Marga UK
When: 24 June 2018
Where: Ahimsa Khand Room, Shishukunj Bhavan, 25, 27 High St Edgware, HA8 7EE
Registration – Required – please register via the 2018 International Yoga Day Registration Form – (LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE – BOOK NOW!!)
Cost – FREE
What to bring – Bottle of water, cushions/mat should you wish to sit on the floor – Chairs are provided at the venue
We will be offering free public talks & workshops on yoga, meditation and short practice sessions.
- 10.00am Babaji’s Surya Namaskar Introduction – a complete physical workout in 10-15 minutes, equivalent to 45 minutes of hatha yoga to align the mind, body and spirit. Please bring a mat with you.
- 11.30am Talk on Simply Meditation Practice – a simple set of quick meditation and relaxation techniques to calm the mind, give inner joy and happiness and bring more love and balance into your life
- 12.30pm Talk on Project Mantra Practice- a 40-day chanting practice to quieten the mind, open up the heart and connect with the Divine
- 13.30pm Talk on Atma Kriya Yoga – the most powerful spiritual yoga practice today, to rapidly connect you with your soul, develop unconditional love and a relationship with the Divine. The techniques deeply purify the body and mind and burn lifetimes of karma.
- 14.30pm OM Chanting Session – A group practice that uses the transformational power of OM to activate self-healing of the participants and the environment and transforms our negativity into positivity
The events will be led by our highly experienced yoga and meditation teachers and would be a great opportunity for someone new to yoga or meditation.
Whether you want to learn how to heal and build a healthier body, meditate to find inner peace and de-stress, open up your heart to deeper layers of happiness and love or explore the more spiritual and mystical side of yoga, Bhakti Marga has something on offer for everyone. Feel free to bring your friends along while we Celebrate International Day of Yoga 2018 in London.
International Yoga Day 2018 was celebrated on June 19 by the Indian Embassy in Japan.
Yoga Day Quotes
“Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.” – UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. – The Bragavad Gita, Hindu scripture