The ancient Indian tradition of Yoga is an invaluable gift to the world. The origins of this practice trace back to 5,000 years when the sapta rishis — seven sages — received the experiential knowledge from the originator of yoga — Adiyogi or Shiva. They then went all over the world to spread the knowledge, according to yogic lore.
However, much later, it was sage Patanjali, who first codified and documented the different aspects of yoga — called the Yoga Sutras — in a format that could be practised by all, eventually giving birth to modern yoga.
Yoga means union — of the body, mind and consciousness — and is a carefully crafted science, which believes that well-being is an amalgam of three aspects that can be attained by anyone. As one progresses in yoga, the three factors begin to work in unison, leading to the highest state of consciousness.
United We Stand
Eager to promote the holistic benefits of yoga to a wider populace, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the United Nations for a Yoga Day. In his address, he said: “Yoga embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; 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 nature”. Moreover, at his behest, the day of the summer solstice (June 21st) was chosen— for its spiritual significance — to be observed as The International Day of Yoga (IDY), by the United Nations.
We are now into the fourth year of celebrating this day, which has garnered worldwide patronage as millions across the globe have embraced yoga as part of their regular existence.
Coordination Is The Key
In India, the ministry of AYUSH coordinates the events of the day bringing together thousands of participants under a standard protocol. Eminent yogis around the world participate in conducting workshops and in turn learn the nuances. Mass yoga sessions are the hallmark of IDY. Two Guinness World Records were set in the first year (2015) of IDY in India when 35,985 people participated in a single session and another for the highest number of participating countries – 170. By the following year, it rose to 192.
Yoga In Oz
Australia too has taken to yoga enthusiastically. According to Roy Morgan Research, one in ten Australians (above 14 years) do yoga; the popularity has doubled since 2008, with women showing a higher proclivity. In fact, one study suggests that yoga should be introduced in schools to help children cope with the stress of academics.
Australia embraces IDY with great fervour, rejoicing the event with festive spirit. Taking the lead, the Australian School of Yoga and Meditation organises countrywide events comprising group sessions of asanas, pranayama, meditation and kirtans.
Around the World
With the promise of health assurance, the zeal to learn yoga is growing. Whether it is New York’s Times Square, a Chinese retreat, the deck of a naval ship, or the mountain peaks of Machu Pichu, IDY draws enthusiasts to tune in to this cosmic wisdom. IDY is a reminder that it is never too late to hit the mat.