The first International Yoga Day was on June 21st 2015. It was initially proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. At a United Nations General Assembly towards the beginning of 2015 the proposal was supported by 177 nations and went through without needing a vote. So it seems most of the world loves yoga and the countries representatives seemed happy for an official day to celebrate it.
When first introducing the event in September 2014 Modi said “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 oneself with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change”
The whole idea of International Yoga Day is to celebrate positive aspects of existence and happiness. It created a feel good story at a time when the modern world as we know it needs more feel good stories. With 177 countries supporting this it’s an event that unites us instead of dividing us and that’s important. When we think about the purpose of the United Nations it follows similar beliefs as the practice of yoga. Things like peace, respect for the environment, solidarity and the improvement of living conditions for all human beings.
As with any big event there will always be detractors and some believe that the motives behind Modi’s proposal were to push a Hindu agenda as Modi is a right wing anti-Islamic populist. Because of this there were ensuing debates and anger demonstrated as some feel the International Yoga Day has political motives. So at times instead of celebrating peace and harmony the creation of this event actually bought about the opposite.
Now in its third year the International Yoga Day continues to builds its popularity amongst yoga communities. Groups from Canada, to China have pictures shared on Modi’s facebook page celebrating International Yoga Day. It’s slowly moving away from political arguments and into a day for people all over the world who love yoga to celebrate their passion for yoga and healthy living. Happy International Yoga Day to you all.