2nd annual International Day of Yoga celebrations create awareness on the importance of yoga

2nd annual International Day of Yoga celebrations create awareness on the importance of yoga
People participate in yoga classes in Times Square to celebrate the Summer Solstice in New York City, NY, USA, on June 20, 2016.

As a part of our effort to mark the second International Day of Yoga, numerous yoga related activities and programs are being organized across the United States and around the world. Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.

June 21st, international yoga day is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity. Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as International Yoga Day by resolution 69/131. International Yoga Day 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 proposal was first introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly, in which he said: “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 the nature.”

The resolution notes “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.” In this regard, the World Health Organization has also urged its member states to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide, and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.

But yoga is more than a physical activity. In his statement before the vote on the resolution, the President of the 69th session of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa emphasized this point: “For centuries, people from all walks of life have practiced yoga, recognizing its unique embodiment of unity between mind and body. Yoga brings thought and action together in harmony.”

In a statement UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also pointed out the global benefits of Yoga: “Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.”

In the words of one of its most famous practitioners, the late B. K. S. Iyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”

The United Nations where it all began a year ago has had its own events marking this very important day in human history. Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations New York led the celebrations at the world headquarters of the world body.

” This year’s observance of the International Day of Yoga highlights the important role healthy living plays in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last year by all 193 United Nations Member States,” said BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General.

Moon said, Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. Yoga balances body and soul, physical health and mental well-being. It promotes harmony among people, and between ourselves and the natural world. Recognizing its universal appeal, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.

In the New York region, the Indian Consulate with the association of local Indian – American community is organizing more than 35 events spanning from Boston, MA, to Columbus, OH. The 2nd international yoga day celebrations started on Saturday, June 18th.

The Consulate General of India in association with Sahaja Yoga hosted an event on Tuesday 21 June 2016 at the Consulate General of India, New York. The event on June 21 in the Consulate was presided over by Ambassador Consul General Riva Ganguly Das. Sahaja Yoga led yoga and meditation session which was followed by a demonstration of yoga on poles by Mallakhamb Federation USA. Tanya Wells performed a live music concert.

At the Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Edison NJ, the celebrations continued all day. The two international airports, EWR and JFK, had their own celebrations on June 21st and 22nd with the Newark EWR Terminal B, Level 3 Door 1and at the JFK Terminal 4 Arrivals, becoming the centers of yoga.

Gary Winkler led yoga on all day June 20th at the iconic Times Square. Yoga was held at the Hindu Temple of North America on June 19th from 9:30am to 2:00pm. The Art of Living Foundation had led the celebrations on June 18th at the Art of Living Center in New York City.

The Art of Living also conducted International Yoga day at Boston, with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar leading the celebrations and yoga sessions. For more information on the program, please visit the Consulate’s website:www.indiacgny.org

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