June 21, 2015 was the first year when international Yoga day was observed. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi first proposed the idea for adopting a day for International Yoga day at United Nations General Assembly in 27 September 2014.
On 11 December 2014, the draft resolution was proposed in UN General Assembly and following to which, 177 countries co-sponsored the resolution, making it by far the highest number of co-sponsor for any United Nations General Assembly Resolution.
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in his address at UN General Assembly suggested,” June 21 to be of special significance as it’s the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In yogic lore, on the day of summer solstice, Shiva noticed the seven people sitting still waiting to learn from Shiva.”
What is Yoga?
Dr. Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, Director of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, describe Yoga as, “Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science of healthy living. The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’”. He also describes the aim of Yoga is self-realization, to overcome all kinds of suffering leading to the state of liberation (Moksha) or freedom (Kaivalya).
How did Yoga start?
Historically, the earliest proof of presence of Yoga dates back to Sarswati Valley Civilization. The number of seals, fossil remains with Yogic motives and figures performing yog sadhana suggest the presence of yoga in ancient India. Presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic and Upanishadic Heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. The concept of five great vows, Pancha Mahavrata by Mahavir and Astha Magga or Eightfold path by Buddha can be considered as early nature of Yoga Sadhna.
In the second century, Maharishi Patanjali describes the path of ‘Raja Yoga’ in his yoga sutra. He started the practice of Yoga into an Eight Limbed Path, which involves the steps and stage towards obtaining enlightenment. Maharishi Patanjali is often considered as the Father of Yoga.
Thenafter, Maharshi Patanjali, Yoga master developed the ‘Tantra Yoga’, a technique to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that binds us to our physical existence and this led to the creation of what we consider yoga today.
According to Yogic lore, Lord Shiva is seen as first Yogi and first Guru. It is believed that yoga was brought to people by the Saptarishis (Seven Sage). Lord Shiva was sitting in a meditation for years, and he never paid attention to anyone even though many people gathered around him, but seven people stayed still for 84 years, in order to learn from Lord Shiva. On the day of summer solstice, Lord Shiva noticed those seven people and the next full moon, twenty-eight days later, Lord Shiva taught the science of Yog to the Saptarishis.
International Day of Yoga, 2022
This year marks the eighth edition of the International Day of Yoga, which will commemorate the idea “Yoga For Humanity”. It will be celebrated not only in India but on a global scale. Likewise, in Sikkim, state level yoga day is being celebrated at Enchey Monastery.
By Abhishek Sharma. The author is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at Himalayansoul009@gmail.com