When Narendra Modi spoke in the UN General Assembly last year about celebrating an International Yoga Day, little did we know that the day would become such a massive occasion! The UN and all member-countries gleefully passed the resolution. And now it seems that all of India’s Govt and Foreign agencies are in overdrive to host mega-events on June 21st this year. The enthusiasm has been infectious with everyone from NCC cadets to Govt. staffers to Diplomats stretching every limb in yogic harmony. And who should be leading the biggest class of them all? Well, Modi himself! The Indian PM will perform Yoga publicly at an event in New Delhi on June 21st that will have 45,000 people stretching and breathing together – a new Guinness World Record for the largest yoga class!
International Yoga Day is in many ways an affirmation of the fact that Yoga today is perhaps one of the most recognisable disciplines practised worldwide. It is breaking boundaries like nothing else. New Yorkers can instantly strike a rapport with people in an Indian village over their shared love of Surya Namaskaar! Londoners, Parisians and others living in the great cities of the world can share a bond with ascetics in the Himalayas – such has been the globalisation of Yoga. So, June 21st represents a coming together of all Yogis, a zenith point (at least in terms of popularity) of this 6,000 year old discipline. Many Yoga teachers like myself who started off before Yoga became uber-cool can now celebrate the fact that friends and family are seeking advice on Pranayam and more! The occasion will also introduce many more people to Yoga and its wonderful benefits; many youngsters who previously shied away from meditation.
In terms of India’s image globally, the International Yoga Day will re-establish India’s role as the Teacher to the world – a role ancient India had been used to. It will transform the image of modern India too – in a way linking it back to a glorious past, full of philosophy, culture and great men. And politically speaking, it gives India immense soft-power; something that Bollywood hasn’t completely been able to deliver. Just the fact that Yoga is practised by millions worldwide will give India a fair share of admirers – something the Govt has been intelligent to recognise.
All in all, it’s a wonderful occasion that has been the brainchild of an Indian PM unafraid of his Indian roots and his push for this event will take Yoga to the hearts and minds of many more people worldwide. Om, that!
– MANISH POLE (Yoga Teacher, Writer & Speaker, Co-founder of Total Yoga)
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.