International Day of Yoga. Baghdad, 2015

Yoga is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic circles, which are also credited with the early sramana movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist Pāli Canon, probably of 3rd century BCE or later. Maharshi Patanjali compiled Yoga sutras, which forms the basis of yoga circa 400 CE.

Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, Yoga means union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is over 6000 year old Indian body of knowledge. Though many think of yoga only as a physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe, these are only superficial aspects of a profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul. Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world.

June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 11, 2014. The declaration of this day came after the call for the adoption of June 21 as International Day of Yoga by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 wherein he stated:

“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.”

This initiative found support from many global leaders. At first, the Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala supported the proposal of Modi. More than 177 countries including USA, Canada, China and Egypt have supported this move, including 175 nations co-sponsoring the resolution. It had the “highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.” On December 11, 2014, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly approved by consensus a resolution establishing June 21 as International Day of Yoga. The resolution also saw a record number of 177 countries co-sponsoring it.

Today, the Indian embassy in Baghdad organised a celebration to mark the first International Day of Yoga at the Iraqi Hunting Club. Assistant Consular Officer Ashok Rawat called me on Thursday afternoon to inform me that the embassy was going to celebrate the 1st International Day of Yoga on June 21. The embassy sent invitation for the event yesterday.

I reached the venue from office at 10:05 am. The programme started at around 10:15 am. Mr. Faryad Rawandozi, Culture Minister, Government of Iraq was the Chief Guest. Young Iraqi yoga enthusiasts performed yoga to celebrate the Yoga day.





It’s good to see that yoga is getting popularized and accepted everywhere. Happy Yoga Day, today and everyday!

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