The 9th International Day of Yoga (IDY) is on June 21st, 2023. The theme for International Yoga Day may vary each year, focusing on different aspects of yoga and its relevance to contemporary challenges. The theme of International Yoga Day 2023 is “Humanity.” Yoga Day celebrations aim to create awareness about the holistic nature of yoga and encourage people to incorporate it into their daily lives for enhanced well-being.
But, why was June 21st selected as the day to commemorate the 5,000-year-old practice? Here are the facts about IDY that you need to know:
It was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
United Nations declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga on December 11th 2015 after the initiation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his UN General Assembly address on September 27th 2014.On his address, Narendra Modi said to the UN General Assembly that “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 us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
More than 177 countries supported International Day of Yoga whereas 175 nations, including USA, Canada and China co-sponsored the resolution. It had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UN General Assembly Resolution of such nature. It was also the first ever in the history that the initiative of any country has been proposed and implemented in the UN body within 90 days.
Why June 21st?
There is a legit reason why June 21st was selected as the International Day of Yoga. Scientifically, June 21st is the day of the Summer Solstice, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis in the northern hemisphere is most inclined toward the Sun. June 21st is considered the longest day of the year with the sun rising early and setting late for the northern hemisphere.
Science aside, the summer solstice is also considered an important day in Indian mythology as it marks an event that could be considered the start of Yogic science. According to an article in the Times of India, written by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Shiva, in the yogic culture is seen as the Adiyogi (the first yogi). When people saw the Adiyogi, they flocked to him in the hope for enlightenment but left as he stayed oblivious of their presence.
However, seven people insisted to stay, wishing to learn from him. But, Shiva refused claiming that a lot of preparation had to be done. The seven people then sat determined through 84 years of sadhana, after which Shiva took notice of them as the sun was shifting from the northern to southern run—which was the day of the Summer Solstice. It is said that Shiva could no longer ignore them as they were brimming with knowledge. When the next full moon arose 28 days later, Adiyogi transformed himself into Adi Guru and started teaching the ways of yogic science to his disciples.
The objectives of International Day of Yoga
- To let people know the amazing and natural benefits of yoga
- To connect people to the nature by practicing yoga
- To make people get used of meditation through yoga
- To reduce the rate of health challenging diseases all over the world
- To bring communities much close together to spend a day for health from busy schedule
- To enhance growth, development and spread peace all around the world
- To help people in their bad situations themselves by getting relief from stress through yoga
- To strengthen the global coordination among people through yoga
- To make people aware of physical and mental diseases and its solutions through practicing yoga
- To protect unhealthy practices and promote and respect the good practices to make health better
- To let people know their rights of good health and healthy life style to completely enjoy the highest standard of physical and mental health
- To link between protection of health and sustainable health development
- To get win over all the health challenges through regular yoga practice