Returning to a face-to-face format this year, the verdant North Lawn has been transformed into a sprawling yoga space where seasoned yogis and curious novices alike have exercised their bodies and minds.
Spirit of unity
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world.
The word “yoga” comes from Sanskrit and means connection or union, symbolizing the union of body and mind.
Opening the event, the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdullah Shahidnoted that as COVID-19 The pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, triggering a wave of anxiety and depression, “the practice of yoga serves as a holistic approach to the physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being of mankind.”
“It just works.”
Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti said that in difficult times of the pandemic millions of people have chosen yoga as their companion to stay healthy, overcome depression and mental anxiety and it is in recognition of this important role of yoga that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Yoga for Humanity”.
“Yoga can also be an integral part of our Restore Better strategy.“, he said.
Return of the North Lawn
Organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, this was the first in-person yoga day celebration after a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.
The event, titled “Yoga with the Masters”, included an introduction to the basic practices of yoga and their demonstration by famous yoga practitioners, a yoga dance from the Indian Raga group, pranayama breathing from Isha Yoga, yoga asanas from the Bhakti Center and a meditation workshop from the Integral Yoga Institute.
Emphasizing the benefits, Sam Chase, Isha yoga instructor, said, “Yoga is about being in an experience where you and the rest of existence are not separate things. Now, if you practice yoga, these benefits will definitely come, you will become more mentally balanced, you will become physically healthy.”
“But it’s a bit like driving a plane through the streets. Yes, you can use it as a bus if you like, but yoga can take you to the sky“.
Kishore Chandra from the Bhakti Center, who has been practicing yoga since the age of 15, was delighted to be back at UN Headquarters.
Speaking to UN news, he said: “I feel very good to be back on the lawn because it rained in 2019 and we did it in the General Assembly and this is how we have been here since 2018… there is nothing better than being here in person with everyone“.
“Yoga is truly a way of lifeit’s not just asanas, asanas are part of it, but to me it means a way of life, because asanas help you find something special, which is peace of mind.
Recognizing the universal appeal of yoga, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the annual International Day of Yoga in 2014 by adopting General Assembly resolution 69/131.
The resolution emphasizes that global health is a long-term development goal that requires closer international cooperation through the exchange of best practices aimed at creating a better individual lifestyle free from any kind of excess.
Yoga has been recognized as providing a holistic approach to health and well-being.
In this regard, the World Health Organization also called on Member States to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten causes of death worldwide and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease. cancer and diabetes.
The President of the General Assembly recalled that yoga is unity: the union of the mind, body and spirit.
Improving global health is our long-term goal. So today’s celebration is also an opportunity to promote a more sustainable lifestyle and a healthier outlook on life.“.
He emphasized the power of yoga as a force of unity for a healthier, happier and more prosperous future for all.
Role of the UN
Kali Mors of the Integral Yoga Institute led a meditation workshop highlighting the important role the UN can play in spreading awareness of the many faceted benefits of yoga.
“The fact that he is at the UN, I think is monumental, because the UN has always been a place where, hopefully, we can bring people together. make the decisions that humanity needs.”
UN News/Sachin Gaur
She said it was essential “to have an international day of yoga where you can bring people together, and then there will be speakers who will talk about how we can serve humanity and act like people around the world to avoid new wars and turmoil.”
Healthy lifestyle and well-being were also recognized as an important aspect The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The path to sustainable living
Practitioners believe that the essence of yoga is balance and therefore it can be an important tool to promote a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with planet Earth.
Sam Chase of Isha Yoga noted that we have always tried to correct humanity by saying what is right and what is wrong, but yoga doesn’t approach it that way.
“If you come to an experience in which everything around you and everyone around you is part of you, then no one has to teach you what is right and what is wrong. You will treat the people around you, you will treat the Earth with great respect because it is part of you.“.
He emphasized that more than ever, especially given the variety of environmental crises going on in the world, we must come together as people and make sure that our planet does not disappear because of us.