World Yoga Day 2024| Yoga unites people with its values of balance, mindfulness & peace: UN chief Guterres

In December 2014, the UN proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, recognising its universal appeal.
Last Updated : 22 June 2024, 06:48 IST

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United Nations: Yoga has roots in India and is now embraced globally, uniting people with its values of balance, mindfulness and peace, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

In his message on the 10th International Yoga Day, Guterres urged people to be inspired by the ancient practice’s timeless values and its call for a more peaceful and harmonious future.

In December 2014, the UN proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, recognising its universal appeal. The draft UN General Assembly resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states.

“The International Day of Yoga recognises the ancient practice’s unmatched power to deliver healing, inner peace and physical, spiritual and mental well-being,” Guterres said in his message on Friday as the world celebrated the 10th International Yoga Day.

“With roots in India but now embraced worldwide by people of all faiths and cultures, Yoga unites people with its values of balance, mindfulness and peace with people and planet alike,” Guterres said in the message posted on X by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN here.

He noted that this year's theme ‘Yoga for Self and Society’ reminds “us of Yoga's important role in enhancing people's lives and the wider community." “On this important day, let us all be inspired by Yoga’s timeless values and its call for a more peaceful and harmonious future,” the UN chief said.

The Permanent Mission of India to the UN organised the commemoration of the 10th International Yoga Day at the North Lawn Area of the UN Headquarters, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Yoga Day last year in a historic celebration, nine years after he proposed from the UN General Assembly podium for June 21 to be marked as International Yoga Day.

The event was attended by UN envoys, personnel, officials and members of the diaspora as well as yoga enthusiasts and practitioners.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed greeted the attendees with a ‘Namaste’ and said that at its heart, yoga is about unity, the unity of mind, body and spirit.

"It is about you, it is about me, it is about us. And at the UN today, we see how it unites people across cultures and countries," she said.

Mohammed added that since the UN General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga 10 years ago, the celebration and momentum have grown steadily.

“Today, it brings millions of us together of all ages and diverse backgrounds to honour this ancient tradition,” Mohammed said as she referred to the Guinness World Record created at last year’s Yoga Day commemoration for most nationalities practising Yoga together.

At least 135 countries were represented at the 2023 Yoga session.

“And I was the proud one of those many. That achievement was a wonderful and powerful symbol of Yoga’s global popularity, its universal appeal, and its power to bring people together in their shared interests and their shared humanity," she said.

Extending greetings for the day with a ‘Namaste’, President of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly Dennis Francis said in a virtual message that Yoga has been an integral part of India's cultural tradition for millennia.

“Over the years, it has spread through the currents of cultural diffusion to every corner of the world, with millions of practitioners who turn to its mental, physical and spiritual benefits,” he said.

He said that Yoga’s benefits, such as a sense of contentment and happiness, physical strength and flexibility, mental fortitude, a sense of empathy and compassion, and inner peace, are all qualities that “should also guide our efforts on the multilateral stage.” Francis added that Yoga’s ethical guide to living advocates for nonviolence, truthfulness and contentment.

"These principles resonate deeply with the core values of the United Nations, which strive to promote peace, justice, and human dignity worldwide. I therefore see in Yoga a powerful metaphor for the United Nations itself,” he said.

Francis called on people to embrace the teachings of Yoga, not only as a physical practice but as a guiding philosophy for “our collective efforts in building a better, stronger future for all of humanity.” Charge d’affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN Ambassador R Ravindra said that in the decade since 2014, Yoga has been embraced by people across the globe like never before, and today it has become a symbol of overall well-being, health and peace.

On the occasion, the UN Chamber Music Society performed world music repertoire, and Yoga masters led meditation and Yoga exercises.

Published 22 June 2024, 06:48 IST

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