International Yoga Day will take place this Sunday, June 21st. With over 192 countries participating in what will be the first ever official International Yoga Day, yoga enthusiasts all over the world are gearing up to chant Om and salute the sun in aid of this special day.
Back in December 2014 last year at the United Nations General Assembly, June 21st was declared as International Yoga Day. June 21st is a significant date as it marks the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, known as Summer solstice. According to yogic lore, the first display and teaching of yoga by Guru Shiva, also known as Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda or Guru Adi (the first Guru), is said to have begun on this day.
From the perspective of yoga, the summer Solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana, the six-months between Summer solstice and Winter solstice, when the sun travels in a southerly direction. Dakshinayana is considered a sacred time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.
Proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the aim of the day is not only to encourage the practice of yoga, but also to promote global awareness of climate change.
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies 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 within yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the UN, 27th Sep 2014
To mark the day in the Indian capital Delhi, 35,000 people will practise yoga at Rajpath (King’s Avenue). The Indian government has stated that this is set to be the largest yoga gathering to date and expects the event to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The Indian government is also organising yoga gatherings in 650 districts across India.
What’s going on near you?
For London see event at Alexandra Palace at: www.iyd.yoga