The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday adopted without vote a resolution, spearheaded by India and co-sponsored by 170 member-states, proclaiming June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
UNGA Vice-President Álvaro Mendonca E Moura of Portugal, delivering a statement on behalf of its President Sam Kutesa (Uganda), noted the overwhelming support that the resolution on yoga had received, with more than 170 co-sponsors.
The representative of Sao Tome and Principe, Mr Angelo Antonio Toriello, also underlined that yoga would not only promote health, but supported clarity of vision and action. That clarity could help prevent contradictions, which often generated confusion while making rules and promoting laws.
Introducing the draft resolution, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukherji said yoga embodied the unity of mind and action. It also had a role in promoting sustainable development, he said, noting that the draft text had received broad support from member-states.
He recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mooted the proposal for observance of an International Day of Yoga during his maiden address to the UNGA on September 27 this year.
“We need to change our lifestyles. Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy. We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well-being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption. It doesn’t mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character. For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature’s bounties as sacred. Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day,” Mr Modi had said.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction to all of us in this Assembly that today, less than 90 days after the proposal for an International Yoga Day was made, we have the honour to introduce before you a very forward looking, simple, yet substantive, draft Resolution calling for establishing the International Day of Yoga,” Mr Mukherji said.
“The Draft Resolution itself is premised on six preambular and four operative paras. The preambular paragraphs draw from mostly agreed language, and recognize that Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being, while acknowledging that wider dissemination of yoga’s benefits would be beneficial for the health of the world population. The main operative paragraph proclaims 21st June each year as the International Day of Yoga, while inviting all of us, member and observer states, international and regional organizations, including NGOs, civil society and individuals to join in and raise awareness about its benefits,” he said.
He said the fact that the draft resolution had garned a record number of co-sponsors, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, was a testimony to the enthusiastic cross cultural and universal appeal that yoga enjoyed amongst members of the United Nations.
Mr Durga Prasad Bhattarai of Nepal said yoga should have found its way into the UNGA Hall long ago as the practice was beneficial spiritually. He said it was important to see yoga as a long-term approach to enhancing health.
Mr Palitha T. B. Kohona of Sri Lanka said yoga had a holistic effect As the world struggles with challenges of modern life, yoga could help achieve the needed balance.
Mr Moura congratulated Mr Modi for the initiative to observe the International Day of Yoga, which brought thought and action together in harmony.