International Yoga Day

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International Day of Yoga
File:International Day of Yoga 2015 in New Delhi.jpg
International Day of Yoga 2015 in New Delhi
Official name International Day of Yoga - IDY
Also called Yoga Day, World Yoga Day
Observed by Worldwide
Type International
Significance Official United Nations promotion of global health, harmony and peace
Celebrations Practice of yoga, meditation, spreading awareness about yoga and adopting it in one's lifestyle by discussing its benefits
Date 21 June
Next time 21 June 2019 (2019-06-21)
Frequency Annual
First time 21 June 2015
Related to Yoga, meditation, cultural performances, health and fitness

International Day of Yoga (Hindi: अंतर्राष्ट्रीय योग दिवस: Antarāshtriya Yog Divas; IAST: Antarāṣṭrīya Yog Divas), or commonly and unofficially referred to as Yoga Day, is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015. An international day for yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 11 December 2014.[1] Yoga is a physical, mental, and/or spiritual practice attributed mostly to India. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN address suggested the date of 21 June, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares special significance in many parts of the world.[2]


The idea of an International Day of Yoga was first proposed by Narendra Modi during his speech at the UNGA, on 27 September 2014.[3] He stated:[4]

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 with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

— Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly

Following this initial proposal, the UNGA held informal consultations on the draft resolution entitled "International Day of Yoga", on 14 October 2014. The consultations were convened by the delegation of India.[5]

UN Declaration[edit]

On 11 December 2014, India's Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who sponsored the text, which was adopted without a vote. This initiative found support from many global leaders. A total of 177 nations co-sponsored the resolution, which is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA resolution of such nature.[6]

When proposing 21 June as the date, Modi said that the date was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (shortest in the southern hemisphere), having special significance in many parts of the world. From the perspective of yoga, the summer solstice marks the transition to Dakshinayana. The first full moon after summer solstice is known as Guru Poornima. Shiva, the first yogi (Adi Yogi), is said to have begun imparting the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind on this day, and became the first guru (Adi Guru).[7] Dakshinayana is also considered a time when there is natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices.

Following the adoption of the UN resolution, several leaders of the spiritual movement in India voiced their support for the initiative. The founder of Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, stated, "this could be a kind of a foundation stone to make scientific approach to the inner well-being of the human being, a worldwide thing... It's a tremendous step for the world."[8] The founder of Art of Living, Ravi Shankar, lauded the efforts of Modi, saying, "It is very difficult for any philosophy, religion or culture to survive without state patronage. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now, official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of yoga to the entire world."[9]

2015 International Day of Yoga[edit]

The first International Day of Yoga was observed world over on 21 June 2015. The Ministry of AYUSH made the necessary arrangements in India. 35,985 people, including Narendra Modi and a large number of dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 yoga asanas (postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi. The day devoted to yoga was observed by millions across the world.[10] NCC cadets entered the Limca Book of Records for the "largest yoga performance simultaneously by a single uniformed youth organisation" by performing at multiple venues.[11]

The event at Rajpath established two Guinness world records awarded to the Ministry of AYUSH and received by AYUSH minister Shripad Yesso Naik. The two records were for the largest yoga class, featuring 35,985 people,[12] and for the largest number of participating nationalities (84 nations).[13]

A senior government official said, "The government of India has decided to take forward the momentum created by International Day of Yoga, 2015 with greater and more active participation of youth during the current year celebrations."[14] The ministry organized an event titled "The National Event of Mass Yoga Demonstration" at Chandigarh, which was to be attended by the Indian Prime Minister.[15]

India's Permanent Mission to the UN organized celebrations at the United Nations on 20 and 21 June 2016. A special event titled "Conversation with Yoga Masters – Yoga for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" was the centerpiece.[16] Sadhguru was the main speaker at the event.[17]

During the first International Yoga Day celebrations in Delhi, the Prime Minister led more than 35,000 participants performing yoga.[18]


  1. UN Declared 21 June as International Day of Yoga
  2. "UN declares June 21 as 'International Day of Yoga'". 
  3. "India's Modi calls for reform in speech to UN". BBC. 27 September 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  4. Modi calls for Yoga Day in UN General Assembly
  5. "UN General Assembly to hold informal consultations on International Day of Yoga". The Economic Times. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  6. "United Nations General Assembly adopts Resolution on International Day of Yoga with a record number of 177 country co-sponsors". 
  7. Sadhguru, J (3 July 2012). "The first Guru is born". Times of India. Times News Service. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  8. International Day of Yoga: A Historic Event. YouTube. 21 May 2015. 
  9. "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Speaks on International Yoga Day". 
  10. "Massive turnout for Yoga day". 
  11. "NCC cadets' Yoga Day feat enter Limca Book of Records". NDTV. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  12. "Largest yoga class". Largest yoga class. Guinness world record. 21 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  13. "PM Modi Leads Yoga Session, India Sets Guinness Records: 10 Developments". NDTV. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  14. "Experts Training Government Staff For Upcoming International Yoga Day". NDTV. 5 June 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  15. "PM Modi To Attend International Yoga Day At Chandigarh". NDTV. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  16. "Sadhguru to lead yoga session at UN on 2nd International Yoga Day". The Indian Express. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  17. "Everything you need to know about International Yoga Day", Dainik Bhaskar 20 June 2016.
  18. "Baba ramdev sets world record on International Yoga Day". ABP Live. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.