International Day of Yoga Yokes Humanity Together

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Yoga in Times Square

Yoga in Times Square

 International Day of Yoga to Connect the Universe?

The world rarely seems to agree on anything ever but this time a simple, peaceful four-letter word has brought them together – Yoga! Thanks to a suggestion by the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, over 177 countries co-sponsored a United Nations resolution to make June 21st the International day of Yoga (IDY).

Asoke Kumar Mukerji, India’s permanent representative to the UN, estimated that  256 cities in 192 counries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia will be celebrating the first annual day of yoga, and over 2 billion people would participate across the world.

From the Great Wall of China to the Eiffel Tower, yoga is going to take a bow. So be it Shanghai or Vienna, Belize City or Chandigarh, Berlin or Edinburgh, yoga is having its day in the public square. In countries across the world yoga events are planned on this one day. Who says the world can’t speak the same language?  Yoga asanas are certainly bringing people closer together.

On Twitter, there’s even  this image of Hon. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations practicing Yoga for #YogaDay on 21st June.

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN,  practicing yoga for Yoga Day.

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN, practicing yoga for Yoga Day with UN diplomat Vijay Nambiar

 

In its resolution, the UNGA recognized that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and suggested wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing Yoga for the health of the world population. It also stated that yoga also brings harmony in all walks of life and is known for disease prevention, health promotion and management of many lifestyle-related disorders.

 

International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day

 

All That You Wanted to Know About Yoga – But Were Afraid to Ask

 

In India IDY is a big deal and Prime Minister  Modi has been tweeting about yoga and is also hopeful that India will make it into the Guinness World Records for the largest gathering in the world doing a yoga asana. Everyone is gearing up for the big day, from out-of-shape bureaucrats to rank and file workers.  Be it the Army, Navy, Air Force, police officers or school children – it’s yoga all the way.

As PM Modi tweeted, “Yoga across oceans…remarkable, innovative & appreciable effort by our Navy for #YogaDay http://indiannavy.nic.in/news-events/”

Yoga in the Middle of the Ocean by Indian Navy

Yoga in the Middle of the Ocean by Indian Navy

A Brief History of Yoga

The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. According to Yogic lore, Shiva has seen as the first yogi or Ādiyogi and the first guru or Ādiguru. Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”. These sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.

 

Check out this really useful video on learning to be a yogi

 

Yoga is widely considered as an “immortal cultural outcome” of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilization – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati Valley Civilization with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharata including Bhagawad Gita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systematized and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through well-documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the present date. Today, everybody has conviction about Yoga practices towards the prevention of disease, maintenance and promotion of health. Millions and millions of people across the globe have benefited by the practice of Yoga and the practice of Yoga is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.

(Text courtesy: idayofyoga.org )

 

How YOU can be a part of International Yoga Day

So why not join in? The Indian consulate in New York has a whole day of activities planned in collaboration with diversel local cultural organizations. Tech Mahindra is the partner for this day, including supporting yoga events at local airports, where stress levels are always high.  So people disembarking from planes or taking off will be able to get a taste of yoga right at busy terminals like Newark and JFK!

It all begins with an inauguration of the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations, followed by the Annual Yoga Celebration of summer Solstice by the Times Square Alliance from 12.30 to 1 pm -this mind-boggling event turns Time Square into one giant yoga mat with hundreds of yogis doing asanas under the summer sun.  This is an all day event and 30,000 people are expected.

“On International Day of Yoga and Summer Solstice I invite everyone to wake up, look up, reach up, climb up like the sun to your highest good,” says Douglass Stewart, co-founder of Solstice in Times Square.

As the organizers of Solstice in  Times Square explain: “This year, there is an exciting new development. The United Nations General Assembly has declared that June 21st is the International Day of Yoga, and is planning a global celebration, with New York City and Times Square playing central roles, in part because of our 13-year tradition of having a Solstice yoga event here at the Crossroads of the World. Times Square is the leading official public site in New York City for the International Day of Yoga, and dignitaries from the UN and the Government of India are scheduled to attend our event on the 21st.”

The 2015 Solstice in Times Square Live Webcast will begin on June 21 at 9:00 a.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. For more information and to view the webcast, visit www.TimesSquareNYC.org.

Solstice in Times Square  – A  Peek at last year’s event

 

For those wanting to hear and see more there is a lecture and demonstration of yoga at Hindu Temple Society of North America, the ever-popular Ganesh Temple in Flushing. Here along with food for the mind, there is also food for the body, with Sattvic meals being sold for modest amounts.  The day includes workshops, lectures, meditations, demonstrations and consultations. Details are at www.621yogaday.com

In the evening there is a major event  at Lincoln Center where over 7000 people are expected. ‘Yoga: A New Dimension with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’ will have the noted humanitarian and spiritual teacher of the Art of Living Foundation,  along with Dr. B.K. Modi of the Global Citizen Forum, an advocate of global consciousness. They will be joined by Bappi Lahiri, the noted musician who connects East and West through his music. This is a ticketed event with proceeds going to social causes supported by the Art of Living Foundation. The good news is that it is also being live-streamed so that everyone gets to participate freely. www.imeditateny.org/yand

The Indian Consul General in New York, Ambassador  Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay and his office have co-ordinated several events around New York and details are available at www.indiacgny.org

Long Island has also contributed its own events such as one on June 20 at Sree Hanuman Temple in conjunction with Vedic Heritage, and on June 21 at the Asa Mai Hindu Temple in Hicksville, with Patanjali USA of Baba Ramdev.

The Overseas Volunteers for Better India (OVBI) ae planning events in 100 cities across the US, and various other organizations such as South Asian Arts Council, Hindu Swayam Sewak and Federation of Indian Associations are organizing yoga events in Boston, Columbus and New York.

In  San Francisco, the Consulate General of India and the Art of Living are presenting ‘Yoga: A New Dimension’ at Marina Green Park. This is being promoted as a zero waste event, with people being asked to bring their snacks and water in reusable containers. The event includes yoga sessions, yoga traditions and protocols followed by a kirtan session with Grammy nominated music composer Jai Uttal. More details Here

 

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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