United Nations: Less than three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea, the UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted an India-led resolution declaring June 21 as International Day of Yoga, recognising that "Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being."
The resolution on International Day of Yoga was introduced by India's Ambassador to UN Asoke Mukerji on Thursday and had 175 nations joining as co-sponsors, the highest number ever for any General Assembly resolution.
It is also for the first time that such an initiative has been proposed and implemented by any country in the UN body in less than 90 days.
Through the resolution, adopted under the agenda of 'Global Health and Foreign Policy,' the 193-member General Assembly decided to proclaim June 21 every year as the International Day of Yoga.
It recognised that Yoga "provides a holistic approach to health and well-being" and that wider the dissemination of information about benefits of practising Yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population.
In introducing the resolution, Mukerji quoted Modi's UNGA address in which he had asked world leaders to adopt an international Yoga day, saying that by changing lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.
"Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being," Modi had said.
In suggesting June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, Modi had said that the date, one of the two solstices, is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.
Mukerji said the vision articulated by the Prime Minister was warmly welcomed initially by a small yet committed corpus of nations.
"The very fact that today in the UN General Assembly, this draft resolution has garnered a record number of 175 co-sponsors, including the vast majority of member states of all the regional and sub-regional groups of the General Assembly, as well as all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, is a testimony to the enthusiastic cross cultural and universal appeal that Yoga enjoys amongst members of the United Nations," Mukerji said.
In his message on the passage of the resolution, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in declaring June 21 the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has brought attention to the holistic benefits of the ancient practice on health and well-being in the modern world.
Ban said: "Yoga can contribute to resilience against non-communicable diseases and can bring communities together in an inclusive manner that generates respect. Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace and can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress."
UNGA President Sam Kutesa congratulated Modi for the initiative, saying the adoption of the resolution with overwhelming support demonstrates how both the tangible and unseen benefits of Yoga appeal to people around the world.
"Yoga brings thought and action together in harmony, while demonstrating a holistic approach to health and well-being," he said.
The messages of support by Ban and Kutesa reflected the convergence of views of the leaders of two of the major organs of the UN system, the General Assembly and the Secretariat, said the Indian mission.
Besides proclaiming June 21 as the international Yoga day, the resolution invited all member and observer States, organisations of the UN system and other international and regional bodies to observe the day in order to raise awareness of the benefits of practising yoga.
Mukerji emphasised the significance of the resolution adopted in terms of its timing, coming soon after the presentation of the Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary General, on which the negotiations of the post-2015 Development Agenda will commence in the UN from January 2015.
Using the Sanskrit meaning of the word Yoga, Mukerji expressed hope that the impact of the resolution will "join" efforts in the area of global health with aspirations for a meaningful post-2015 Development Agenda.
He assured the General Assembly that the First International Day of Yoga would be a grand success next year.
The resolution was prepared by India and informal consultations were convened in October by the Indian mission in the UNGA where views on the topic were expressed by other delegations.
Yoga is the 5,000-year-old Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice that aims to transform body and mind.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked all 177 countries that co-sponsored the resolution.
In his tweet, Modi said, " I profusely thank all 177 Nations across the world who co-sponsored the resolution to declare 21st June as 'International Day of Yoga."