“A disease-free body, quiver-free breath, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, obsession-free memory, ego that includes all, and soul which is free from sorrow are the signs of a perfect yogi.” – Sri Sri
On 11 December 2014, when the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 June as International Yoga Day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he considered the announcement a matter of great honor for India, the birthplace of yoga. It was at the prime minister’s initiative that the proposal for holding an international yoga day was first put forward at the UN in September 2014. It received overwhelming support from 177 nations, including Kuwait, and was passed by the world body in a record 100 days.
Speaking about the need for holding an International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Modi said, "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It 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."
Since the beginning of June 2015, the prime minister has been posting tips and trivia about yoga, under the hashtag 'YogaDay' on his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. His postings range from the importance of yoga to its benefits in alleviating stress and other ailments that afflict the mind, body and soul.
Following the declaration, as per the blueprint of the new plan, the India-chapter, soon kicked off with special yoga and spiritual counseling sessions to train some of the master trainers in the Indian Border Security Force and the army who would then impart the skills to the jawans and officers at other levels, to combat stress and improve focus. The government also introduced a plan to allow public officials to practice yoga at work.
Meanwhile, on the international level, yoga is being streamlined into India's Foreign Trade Policy, which envisages branding campaigns to promote yoga as a 'services export' from sectors such as services, pharmaceuticals, plantations and engineering, as well as of commodities and services in which India has traditional strengths, such as handicrafts.
As International Yoga Day nears and we take a closer look at yoga and its positive and holistic effects on practitioners' body, mind and soul, it becomes clear that yoga has a larger magnitude and depth to it than can be imagined. Yoga is more than just stretches, poses and an elastic body; it is more than a calm, peaceful state of mind; the ancient secrets of yoga hold the key to a new dimension in life that is beyond body and mind.
Several prominent individuals and institutions have promoted yoga and pushed forward its holistic attributes. One such institution is the Art of Living Foundation (AOL), one of the largest volunteer-based, non-profit humanitarian organizations. AOL not only propounds breathing techniques, meditation and yoga, but also is the cradle for an increasing number of youngsters, corporate persons and creative people who come out as a huge bustling bunch of some of the most happy people around.
On the eve of International Yoga Day, the founder of AOL, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be at the headquarters of the United Nations, in New York City, to deliver an address there. The presence of Sri Sri, who has earlier addressed diverse global forums, including the World Economic Forum, World Health Organization and the European Parliament, is expected to give a further boost to yoga.
The International Yoga Day on 21 June is also the day of Summer Solstice — the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and which has special significance in many parts of the world. On this day, join the thousands of people around the world, to stretch, breath, feel grateful, meditate and pray for a peaceful world.
On International Yoga Day, to find fellow yogis in Kuwait, head to the Embassy of India premises, where Kuwait-based associations –'Art of Living' (AOL), 'Harmony House' and 'Isha Foundation'– will be celebrating the day with the performance of different yoga asanas, along with a meditation session, from 6am to 8am. To get hooked on to yoga, look out for books and DVDs, on yoga, to buy at the embassy.