International Day of Yoga 2021: Virtual sessions take things truly global

International Day of Yoga 2021: Virtual sessions take things truly global
Courtesy: Richard Baker / Contributor | In Pictures via Getty Images

International Day of Yoga (IDY), celebrated annually on June 21 since 2015, is taking to the virtual platform for another year as the Covid-19 pandemic makes large physical gatherings difficult. The initiative, led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the United Nations six years ago, is observed globally to promote awareness about mental and physical wellbeing. But beyond just one day, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in India, the Indian High Commission and Nehru Centre in London and several other community organisations are geared up for a series of Yoga related events at a time when their benefits will be felt even most acutely by a pandemic-hit society.

From India and the UK and Europe, to the US, Canada, the Middle East, and Down Under in Australia, IDY will once again be uniting the world.

History of IDY

Deeply rooted in Indian tradition and heritage, the word Yoga has been derived from the Sanskrit language and means uniting. Uniting not with another being, but essentially with one's inner self and nature's elements.

Many religions and philosophies – Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism – find their basis in Yoga. Swami Vivekananda's role in propagating Yoga around the world is well documented.

The creation of IDY dates back to when Prime Minister Modi strongly appealed that an international day must be designated to highlight the importance and need of Yoga in the contemporary era and that is how an International Day of Yoga was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014 and IDY was observed the world over for the first time on June 21, 2015.

Digital First

A Digital First approach has been adopted amid the ongoing constraints of the pandemic. Keeping the current circumstances in mind, the theme for this year is "Be with Yoga, Be at Home", which encourages everyone to observe IDY from the safety of their homes.

India’s Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports have jointly organised events to commemorate IDY 2021.

The Ministry of Ayush notes: "Due to current external environment a muted tone has been adopted. Focus is on public health messaging only.”

Internationally, the theme revolves around "Yoga at home and Yoga with Family". Perhaps, Yoga is the only solution to combat the caged feeling of lockdown restrictions, when any other forms of gym workouts may prove more difficult.

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Activities to track

MyGov.in is being leveraged to run multiple activities to engage citizens. Daily CYP sessions (Children & Young People) are being organised by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga. These are free sessions and accessible to all over social media.

Overall, eight activities have been hosted on the platform regarding IDY 2021. In addition, eight different initiatives are being conducted – PM Yoga Awards, Video Campaign, Discussion, Survey, Pledge, Quiz, Jingle Contest, and Mascot Competition.

A countdown leading up to June 21 has been running since March 13, accessible through the Ministry of AYUSH social media.

For the UK, here are some highlights from the Nehru Centre, London:

  • 21st June

International Webinar on Yoga – eminent speakers from India and abroad have been invited. Few names like Prof. H.R. Nagendra, Chancellor, S-VYASA University, Dr Tanuja Nesari, Director, AIIM, Dr Antonietta Rozzi, Founder and President, Sarva Yoga International, Italy, three prominent speakers from the UK would be taking part as speakers.

  • 22nd June

A lecture-demonstration with Director, TNC by Swami Purnachaitanyaji from Art of Living.

  • 23-24 June

Lecture-demonstration on Yoga by Mirabelle D'Cunha, a well-known Yoga expert from the UK.

  • 26th June 2021

A one-hour Yoga session featuring a seamless flow of yogic postures and meditation.

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Other key highlights:

1. Isha Foundation will be offering a variety of free live online sessions:

  • Yoga & Meditation Sessions with Isha Yoga Teachers

A programme aimed at eliminating anxiety, enhance joy and relieve physical pain. Also, learn how to prepare two delicious & healthy dishes!

  • Yoga Veera Sessions: Sharing Yogic Tools

750+ Isha Volunteers across Europe have come together to offer 350+ free yoga sessions for peace, health & joy. A selfless pledge to share tools of inner wellbeing designed by Sadhguru.

  • Isha Yoga Marathon 2021 with Celebrities, Influencers & Guests

Watch over 35 actors, singers, dancers, TV celebrities, athletes, bloggers, writers and more join forces in Isha's first-ever influencer Yoga Marathon. Watch them attend a unique 30-minute yoga, meditation or nutrition class, and join the practice along with them! Info: webinar.europe@ishafoundation.org

2. The All Party Parliamentary group – Indian traditional Sciences virtually celebrates by holding several Zoom seminars on June 21 from 10am onwards.

3. Deega Yoga to create an Asian Record of performing 12 Surya Namaskar in 12 minutes. 108 children will be performing Syun Salutation from five different time zones.

4. Yoga teacher of Swindon Hindu temple, Sri Lokendra Sharma, to attempt 108 Sun Salutations on IDY. He says: "No fun in doing it alone, so I started workshop from 1st June to practice Sun Salutations. People of different age groups, gender and background joined me daily for the last 3 weeks. What seemed impossible when we started, seem in striking distance. Most of us are more confident to be able to do 108 Sun Salutation on IDY. The group includes female aged 80 as well."

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