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Press Briefing on International Day of Yoga - 12th June 2015

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12th June 2015

On a call from the Prime Minister of India to declare 21st June as International Day of Yoga (IDY), United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on 11th December 2014, adopted a resolution moved by India and co-sponsored by a record of 177 countries (including Madagascar), to declare 21st June as “International Day of Yoga”. 21st June will, therefore, be celebrated worldwide as ‘International Day of Yoga’ every year.

The Embassy of India, Antananarivo (Madagascar) will be celebrating International Day of Yoga in a befitting manner on 21st June 2015 at Hotel Ibis in Antananarivo (Madagascar) and National Assembly Hall in Moroni (Comoros). There will be presentations and Yoga demonstration on this occasion.

Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, in his speech at the 69th session of the General Meeting of United Nations on 27th September 2014, said that "Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with climate change.  Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."

On 11th December 2014, the 193-member UNGA approved the proposal by consensus with a record 177 co-sponsoring countries a resolution to establish 21 June as "International Day of Yoga".  In its resolution, the UNGA recognised that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being and wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing Yoga for the health of the world population. Yoga also brings harmony in all walks of life and thus, is known for disease prevention, health promotion and management of many lifestyle-related disorders.

What is yoga? : Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.  It is an art and science for healthy living. The word "Yoga" is derived from the Sanskrit root yujmeaning "to join", "to yoke" or "to unite".   According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be "in Yoga" and is termed as a yogi who has attained a state of freedom, referred to as mukti, nirvāna, kaivalyaor moksha.

"Yoga" also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of methods through which human beings can achieve union between the body and mind to attain self-realisation. The aim of Yoga practice (sādhana) is to overcome all kinds of sufferings that lead to a sense of freedom in every walk of life with holistic health, happiness and harmony.

Brief history and development 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
ādiyogiand the first guru or ādiguru.Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lakeKantisarovar in the Himalayas, ādiyogipoured his profound knowledge into the legendary saptarishisor "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 marveled 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.

Yoga is widely considered as an "immortal cultural outcome" of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – 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 Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhanasuggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India.  The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of TantraYoga.  The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of  Mahabharata, including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions.  Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjalisystematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali'sYoga Sutras.

Yoga is just not a physical exercise as perceived by many. Yoga is all about harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing techniques, yoga postures (asanas) and meditation. Yoga enables man to perceive the truth in all religions.  A prayer that one utters while at the same time thinking of other things in the background of the mind is not a true prayer and is unheeded by God.  Yoga teaches that in order the prayer to succeed, one should know to concentrate and through Yoga one can attain this concentration.

Yoga is for everybody, for the people of the east, west, north and south.  One cannot say that telephone is not for the east because it was invented in the west. So is Yoga.  In fact, a cross section of people in different countries throughout the world are practicing yoga but there is a need to popularize it so that the entire humanity could be benefitted by the inherent strength of Yoga.

Come, join us in spreading the message of Yoga.