International Day of Yoga – 21st June

Since 2015, the 21st of June each year is recognised as International Day of Yoga under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).

It took less than 3 months from the time the Indian government proposed the idea, to the idea being formally adopted, with 175 member nations joining as co-sponsors of the proposal. It was the first time such a proposal had been floated and implemented in under 90 days.

Yoga’s international acknowledgment under UN recognition correlates with yoga’s increasing prevalence and acceptance as a healing modality, and its integration into more mainstream healthcare.

Why do we celebrate yoga?

The Indian government pointed to yoga’s holistic approach to health and wellbeing as valuable for the world population’s health, a point reinforced by then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who spoke of yoga’s contribution to bolstering immunity and providing resilience to both communicable diseases as well as non-communicable diseases including epidemic killers (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer).

The Indian government also articulated the impact yoga could have on the sustainability of the planet as a whole. Bringing mind and body together, thought and action, yoga’s ability to help humanity live in greater harmony with nature can also help us deal with issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

The 21st of June is about raising awareness of the benefits of yoga – both those already evidenced, and those as yet unrealised if more people did yoga – and offering gratitude that this ancient practice is being embraced and enjoyed by more and more people all over the world. The need for heart-mind and thought-action coherence has also never been more important.

The theme for 2021 – Yoga for Wellbeing

Amidst the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it is not simply physical health where the need for strengthening and resilience can be seen. Indeed, the pandemic has exacerbated and increased the suffering from psychological and mental health problems. Yoga is proving a powerful tool in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid patients, and is helping untold numbers of people better manage anxiety and worry.

This aligns with the therapeutic and restorative power of yoga, and goes some way to explaining the ever-increasing demand for and interest in yoga therapy.

Written by Nicole Small, The Yoga Institute

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