International Day of Yoga


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    Recently, the Prime Minister of India, while addressing a programme to mark the 7th International Day of Yoga (IDY), has termed yoga a “ray of hope” and a source of strength amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


    About International Day of Yoga

    • Background
      • The idea for an UN-mandated IDY was first proposed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2014.
        • He highlighted yoga as an invaluable gift from Indian ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action and is a holistic approach that is valuable to our health and our well-being.
        • It is not just about exercise but it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with oneself, the world and nature.
      • This initiative was backed by as many as 177 nations, the highest number of cosponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.
      • The UN proclaimed 21st June as IDY by passing a resolution on 11th December 2014, during the 69th session of the General Assembly.
        • 21st June was chosen as it marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, which holds special significance in many parts of the world.
    • Theme for 2021: Yoga for Well-being.
      • It is relevant for current times where society is still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • Beyond its immediate impact on physical health, the Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated psychological suffering and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, as pandemic-related restrictions continue in various forms in many countries.
      • This has highlighted the urgent need to address the mental health dimension of the pandemic, in addition to the physical health aspects. 
    • As it is an event of a global scale, preparations for the IDY event usually begin 3-4 months prior, ultimately culminating in a grand programme where millions of people come together to observe the spiritual history and significance of the day.
    • Logo: The brown leaves in the logo symbolize the earth element, the green leaves of nature, blue the fire element while the sun symbolises the source of energy and inspiration.


    (Image Courtesy: UN)


    About Yoga

    • It is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India.
    • The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
    • Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity.
    • A growing trend of people around the world are embracing yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression
    • Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety.


    Yoga Related Initiatives by Indian Government

    • M-Yoga Application
      • It was launched in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
      • The app will have videos of yoga training based on a Common Yoga Protocol and will be available in different languages. It will help the government in making the ‘One World, One Health’ motto successful.
    • Common Yoga Protocol
      • In its ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ from 2019, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) lists Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Satkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma among popular yoga ‘sadhanas’.
    • Educational Yoga Courses
      • The Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) has vocational education courses in Yoga for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools.
        • B&WSSC is a non-profit organisation that works under the National Skill Development Corporation, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
    • Yoga Training
      • Candidates in lakhs have been trained as yoga instructors and trainers through various skilling initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a flagship scheme of the MSDE.
    • Fit India Movement
      • Yoga is also a part of the Fit India Movement, a nation-wide campaign encouraging people to include physical activities and sports in their everyday lives.
    • Special Cancellation Stamp
      • India Post will issue a special cancellation stamp on all mail booked on 21st June to capture the essence of the Day.
        • A cancellation is defined as a postal marking used to deface a stamp to prevent its reuse. Such cancellations are valued collectibles and often subjects of philatelic studies.
      • The special pictorial cancellation stamp will be an inked marking or impression with a graphical design with IDY 2021 written in both Hindi and English languages.

    Summer Solstice

    • The word “solstice” originated from Latin wordsol” which means sun and “sistere” which means stationary or stand still.
    • It occurs at the moment when the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun is at a maximum, therefore, on the day of the summer solstice, the Sun appears at its highest elevation with a noontime position that changes very little for several days before and after the summer solstice.
    • This phenomenon occurs twice a year, once in the Northern Hemisphere (between 20-22 June, depending on the year and time zone) and once in the Southern Hemisphere (between 20-23 December).
    • Other Names: Midsummer, First Day of Summer.
    • It is an auspicious time to revere the Sun, align the body & mind with positive energy and embrace nature. Sun worship has been an intrinsic part of sacred traditions throughout history and many cultures across the world.
    • On 21st June, the Northern hemisphere experiences its longest day of the year and shortest night.
    • It happens when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer which is located at 23.5° latitude North and for every place north of it, the sun is at its highest point in the sky and thus making the days longer.


    Winter Solstice

    • It marks the shortest day and longest night of the year and occurs when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5° South of the Equator.



    • An equinox is an event in which a planet’s subsolar point passes through its Equator.
      • Subsolar point is the area of a planet where the sun is perceived to be directly overhead.
    • The word equinox is derived from two Latin words: Aequus (equal) and nox (night).
    • There are only two times of the year when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun, resulting in a nearly equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes and these events are referred to as Equinoxes.
    • On Earth, there are two equinoxes every year: one around 21st March and another around 22nd September
      • Sometimes, the equinoxes are nicknamed the “vernal equinox” (spring equinox) and the “autumnal equinox” (fall equinox), although these have different dates in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. 
      • The March equinox is the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and the autumnal equinox in the Southern. The September equinox is the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the vernal in the Southern.
    • The days become a little longer at the higher latitudes (those at a distance from the equator) because it takes the Sun longer to rise and set.


    (Image Courtesy: NWS)


    Source: TH