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International Yoga Day: How Narendra Modi's efforts popularised Yoga

Yogic exercises reduce stress, help us immensely to improve our strength, flexibility and also aid in harmonizing our inner self with the world which also brings forth peace.  

Vasavi Garg

Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.

― B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga is an Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice. The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre- Vedic Indian traditions.

Yogic exercises reduce stress, help us immensely to improve our strength, flexibility and also aid in harmonizing our inner self with the world which also brings forth peace.

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a step forward to bring the Indian yoga to the forefront of the world. When he travelled to the United States in September 2014, he made a passionate plea for observing International Yoga Day. While addressing the United Nations General Assembly, he highlighted the importance of yoga.

He said “Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature. It is an historic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change and also it can create a more balanced world. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

PM Modi's pitch for yoga and his initiative in asserting to adopt an International Yoga Day can also be seen as a way through which he wants to unite the whole world. Such a unity is much like the positive energy released from the yogic postures or exercises.

Modi's yoga initiative got a big push when he visited Australia in November 2014. When he attended the 2014 G20 Brisbane Summit, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told him that the 28 members of EU support his idea for a Yoga Day.

About 130 countries have joined as co-sponsors to an India-led General Assembly resolution recognizing yoga's benefits and to commemorate an International day for yoga.

The UN adopted an India-led resolution and declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga on December 11th 2014, less than three months after Modi had proposed this idea. The resolution was overwhelmingly lauded by other nations.

Yoga holds a special place in Modi's life as he has been a constant practitioner of yoga. On 12th December 2014 he had tweeted that “I have been a practitioner of yoga for years and you can't believe the positive difference it has made in my life. Yoga is the anchor of my life”. From this, one can understand that how deeply it has affected our PM's life and how passionately he wants the world to feel the same.

The Modi government is going all-out, literally, to promote International Yoga Day as Modi has directed his ministers travelling on World Yoga Day to hold camps wherever they are.

The government has directed all Union ministers on foreign or domestic visits to organise mass yoga camps that day at their respective locations in order to mark the occasion.

Ministers likely to be on foreign shores on June 21 include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, both in the US. While Jaitley would commemorate the day in San Francisco, Swaraj would anchor an event in New York. The founder of the globally-acclaimed Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, would attend the New York ceremony along with Swaraj.

Similarly, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh - who also independently holds the MoS (Planning) portfolio, would hold an event in London.

According to BJP national secretary Anil Jain, also the organisational coordinator for the event’s India chapter, a video CD showing several yogic asanas has been prepared. It will be screened at all national and international venues to serve as a ready reckoner for the exercises.

“The events across the world, including within India, would be conducted as per visual instructions in the 35-minute CD, created by the government in consultation with 18 national and international yoga organisations. The screening will be followed by a 25-minute discussion on the merits of yoga,” Jain said.

Around 192 countries will be celebrating the International Yoga Day. To celebrate first ever International Yoga Day on June 21, Prime Minister Modi will address the nation and perform yoga. One can truly feel the essence of PM Modi's initiative as 37,000 people are expected to perform at Rajpath's mega yoga event. Elaborate security arrangements are being put in place and only invitees will be allowed to attend the programme.

Will you be taking part in the events scheduled to mark International Yoga Day? in Health News on LockerDome