Is the World about to Get an International Yoga Day?

Is the world about to get an International Yoga Day? According to the Indian newspaper The Financial Express, the UN is about to declare June 21 as international World Yoga Day.

Three months ago, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appeal to the UN to declare a day dedicated to the celebration of yoga in all its forms. The proposal so far has received support from 170 nations, including the United States, Germany, Japan and China, the United Nations. According to Indian newspapers, the United Nations is set to declare June 21 as the World Yoga Day in a meeting on December 10.

Spurred by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian officials are already planning how to integrate yoga more fully into Indian life and culture. He recently created a new ministry dedicated to the promotion of alternative therapies with a strong emphasis on yoga. Currently, plans are underway to introduce yoga in more than 600,000 schools and thousands of police training centers and hospitals.

Shripad Yesso Naik, India’s new yoga minister, has long practiced yoga in his own life and has big plans for reclaiming yoga for India. These plans include introducing it widely into Indian schools and other organizations as well as promoting it in the world at large.

Prime Minister Modi, who begins each day with yoga and pranayama, has for many years been an avid supporter and proponent of traditional Indian health and spiritual practices. He credits yoga with the fact that he feels strong and energetic every day and needs just a few hours of sleep. The Washington Post quotes him as saying, “I am equally energetic from morning till night.  I guess the secret behind it is yoga and [breathing exercises].  Whenever I feel tired, I just practice deep breathing and that refreshes me again.”

With the growing popularity of yoga in the West, it has seen a revival in India in the last couple of decades as well. For many years Indians viewed yoga as something the saints and gurus practiced. But the popularity of yoga in the West has had a strong influence, and yoga has become more widely accepted and embraced at home. This is a trend that Naik wants to build upon and embrace.  According to The Washington Post, Naik said, “There is little doubt about yoga being an Indian art form. We’re trying to establish to the world that it’s ours.”  

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