International Yoga Day
By Gracy Singh
Celebrated internationally on the 21st of June every year is the International yoga day which lays the path to finding your inner yogi. This event is of utmost significance for a country like India because it marks how cultural products get incorporated in the process of globalization and marks the commodification of culture. Yoga has historical roots in India as it was mentioned for the first time in the Rig Veda it is also now being marketed internationally. This is a recent development as in December 2014, the United Nations recognized the universal appeal of yoga and proclaimed the 21st of June as International Yoga Day.
Recognition of International Days such as that of Yoga aim at educating the public on issues of concern and creating the public and political will to strive towards health and humanity along with raising resources for the same. The International Yoga Day marks the significance of Yoga as an essential activity and the numerous advantages it has for mental as well as physical wellbeing. The creative side of educating the masses has been very effective in terms of overlapping concerns. The fifth edition of The International Yoga Day in 2019 had the theme of “Yoga for Climate Action”. Events like these create a sense of solidarity not just nationally but at the international level as well because it engages the masses together and tends to overcome barriers of race, caste, gender, class etc.
The day is of great pride for India as the resolution for its recognition was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United Nations General Assembly, the basis of which was the holistic wellbeing promoted by Yoga. The World Health Organization also extended it’s support in view of this proposal and urged the states to reduce the physical inactivity of its citizens.
Yoga involves the discipline of physical and mental activity in order to achieve a peaceful mind and body. Its benefits are multifaceted as it incorporates breathing exercises, meditations and poses. Physically, it improves the cardiac system, a study found out that those who practice yoga and are aged above 40 years have lower blood pressure and pulse rates. Similarly, it also strengthens the respiratory system along with the muscular system . Mentally, it reduces the possibility of anxiety, depression, negative thoughts etc. The role of yogic exercises in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been successfully recognized. Yoga reduces the level of cortisol, a stress hormone which is associated with depression, hence, it helps in combating depression. It also leads to an improved quality of life and brings about major changes in lifestyle. The everyday stress due to workload and personal problems deeply hamper our health which brings major changes in our sleeping patterns leading to more problem. The difficulties get more grave as we age. Yoga has been found to be effective in improving the quality of sleep as it increases the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep.
Even in terms of sports that require tremendous strength, yoga is highly recommended for athletes as it enhances strength, flexibility, better concentration, improved mental health, lower stress and achieving a sense of balance both physically and mentally. Regular practice of yoga creates mental clarity, calmness and more importantly increases self-awareness which plays a vital role in early detection of physical problems resulting in preventive action.
Keeping the various benefits of yoga in mind, we mark the importance of yoga on the 21st of June, the reason for recognizing 21st as the particular day is based in the fact that during June Solstice, the North Pole is tilted towards the sun or simply the sun begins to move from north to south. From the perspective of Yoga, this time provides a better period for meditation. In 2015, nearly 84 countries had participated in the International Yoga Day. It was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest yoga class to have ever taken place in the history of humankind.
Yoga Day this year holds great significance given the circumstances and conditions faced by people worldwide due to the pandemic. Yoga is the perfect retreat that one can have in order to feel a sense unity with everyone across the globe who are facing the same challenges and can provide the perfect instrument for stress reduction along with achieving mental calmness. Due to the halt in our physical and mental activities in the wake of the current situation, yoga can provide a platform for effective physical and mental engagement with its widespread benefits. So let us bring our mats and do some asanas to attain holistic wellbeing. Happy International Yoga Day 2020!
Thanks to Ksenia Makagonova for making this photo available freely on Unsplash.