The proposal reportedly came from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014. He urged the United Nations’ to promote yoga’s value in helping people “discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.” Three months later, on December 11, 2014, with 175 co-sponsors, the 193 member United Nations General Assembly declared June 21, the solstice, as International Day of Yoga. The U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon said the celebration would bring attention to yoga’s holistic benefits: “Yoga can contribute to resilience against non-communicable diseases. Yoga can bring communities together in an inclusive manner that generates respect.” He added: “Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.” This is the first time “any such initiative has been proposed and implemented” in less than 90 days. The U.N has declared 118 other such commemorative days.
Comment: The quotes wonderfully capture the many faces of yoga – from sport to stress relief to medical intervention to a multi-leveled “sense of oneness.” The phenomenally rapid uptake of yoga internationally over the past two decades is clearly a chord that hits on all those notes. Fascinating to see this international consensus emerging for advancing health through yoga. Notably, the number of co-sponsors is also a record for any resolution of this sort.