Since 2015, the International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on 21 June.
Even though Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in India, it was only in 2014 that efforts by the Government of India to give formal recognition to Yoga globally were met with success.
The proposal to celebrate International Day of Yoga was first introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, in which he had said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition to the world.”
The draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India, and endorsed by a record 177 member states. Since then, the celebration has been marked by people in all parts of the world.
Yoga is an art and science for the ages. It is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India in the Vedic period more than 3,000 years ago. It is a discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between the mind and body.
The ancient Indian scripture called the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ states that “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”.
It is an art and science of healthy living. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. Through the practice of Yoga, one is capable of achieving the unity of mind and body and being able to realise one’s full potential.
The popularity of Yoga owes to the fact that it can be practiced with ease by people of all ages without any special equipment. Yoga is as simple as performing rhythmic breathing and physical exercises, most of which are easy to learn and perform.
Yet, it is a complex science in its own right, which is immensely beneficial for health and wellness.
Yoga is a ray of hope in times of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The message of Yoga in promoting both the physical and mental well-being of humanity has never been more relevant than at a time when the world is facing a grave threat from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A growing trend of people around the world doing Yoga is to stay healthy and rejuvenated, and to fight social isolation and depression.
Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. In his address to the nation on the eve of the 7th International Day of Yoga, the Indian Prime Minister said, “Today, when the whole world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Yoga remains a ray of hope”.
Quoting great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi added, “Yoga goes to the root cause of disease and is instrumental in healing.”
He expressed satisfaction that globally, research is being conducted in the healing properties of Yoga. Scientific research has proven that the ancient practice can help reduce stress levels, increase awareness, build immunity, strengthen physical and mental health, along with helping regularise the digestive system and blood circulation.
As a curtain raiser to the celebrations for the 7th International Day of Yoga this year, the Embassy of India in Cairo organised a special Yoga evening at the ‘India House’ on 19 June.
The event was graced by diplomats and eminent personalities from the Egyptian film industry, arts and media who participated enthusiastically in the event. Representatives from over a dozen countries performed ancient Indian Yogic Asanas on a breezy evening on the calm and serene banks of the Historic Nile and for a moment, it felt like the great Indian and Egyptian civilisations were coming together in all glory. The message of ‘Vasudev Kutumbhkam’ or ‘One World Family’ went out loud and clear from the waters of the River Nile.
A larger event was organised on 21 June in Heliopolis, where over 250 participants practiced Yoga in the sprawling gardens of The Child Museum, Heliopolis. Azza El Dori, First Undersecretary at Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, was the Chief Guest for the occasion. The event continued until late past sunset.
Ajit Gupte, Ambassador of India to Egypt