A mega virtual global drive for Yoga from Home
The social distancing norms in place around the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic meant a whole new avatar for the annual UN-designated International Day of Yoga (IDY) this year.
Dating back to more than 5,000 years, this ancient Indian practice is designed to foster harmony of the body and the mind. A complete system of physical, mental, social, and spiritual development, Yoga derives from the Sanskrit word 'yug' (yoke), which means union - referring to the union of individual consciousness with divine consciousness. Since its inception on the initiative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, IDY has been celebrated annually the world over on June 21 since 2015.
However, with the majority of the world in lockdown and large social gatherings discouraged due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year the iconic day was celebrated somewhat differently - in a virtual setting. The theme for International Day of Yoga 2020 being Yoga for Health - Yoga at Home [Ghar Ghar Se Yoga].
To mark the sixth edition of IDY, the High Commission of India and the Nehru Centre of London, in association with the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi, brought alive this virtual theme of 'Ghar Ghar Se Yoga' or 'Yoga from Home'.
In the build-up to IDY, a series of tailored online discussions and sessions took place to focus on Yoga for Children, Yoga for the Elderly and Yoga for the NHS. The varied sessions highlighted the philosophy of Yoga and its benefits, offering innumerable tips from Yoga experts and much more.
Amish Tripathi, Minister (Culture) at the High Commission of India in the UK and Director of the Nehru Centre, explained: “In the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown that all of us are stuck in, we have taken up a theme of 'Ghar Ghar se Yoga' or 'Yoga from Home', through online platforms.
“Yoga can do yeoman service in reducing stress, building immunity system strength (coupled with Ayurveda), and respiratory system strength (coupled with Pranayama).”
The central event on June 21 attracted renowned speakers, including the likes of Guruji Dr Nagendra, Chancellor S-Vyasa, and Dr Tanuja Nesari (Director of All India Institute of Ayurveda), to address an online audience. Across all four events, thousands logged into the online seminars and joined via Facebook live sessions.
Unifying the world
In India, Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation to highlight the importance of Yoga. “All of us are doing Yoga at home with the family. Yoga unifies people, unifies the world. Yoga is helping us in this fight against this pandemic. The pranayamas help us in building immunity and resolving respiratory illness,” he said.
International Day of Yoga celebrations had kicked off in 2015 with PM Modi and other dignitaries performing around 21 yoga asanas in New Delhi's Rajpath and establishing two Guinness World Records in the process - the world's largest Yoga class with 35,985 people and the maximum number of participating nationalities at 84.
This year, Isha Foundation, founded by Indian Yogi Sadhguru, offered online Yoga and meditation sessions: Yoga for holistic health, espiratory health, and yoga for peace.
The UN celebrated by recognising Yoga as a holistic approach to health and wellbeing as well as a powerful tool for dealing with the multitude stresses brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. In New York, the Permanent Mission of India to the UN commemorated IDY 2020 on June 19 through UN Web TV and the mission's social media platforms.
by Preeti Bali