World Yoga Day happens on June 21st, the date it was assigned globally since its inception in 2015. It’s a day when everywhere around the world, yoga practitioners, yoga teachers, and health advocates alike gather to practice asana, meditation, and share a day of peace and joy together.
Why a World Yoga Day?
In September 2014 during the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Narendra Modi, India’s current Prime Minister, introduced the idea of an World Yoga Day, highlighting in his speech the benefits of yoga for our wellbeing.
“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 in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
— Narendra Modi
The proposition received broad support and a resolution was drafted, introducing the 21st of June as the proposed day for a few reasons.
To begin with, June 21st is the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere, known as the summer solstice. In addition to this, it’s also an important day on the Hindu calendar: it’s the transition from Uttarayana into Dakshinayana, the latter being the six-month period between the summer and winter solstice (and the former, the period between the winter and summer solstice).
It is said that on the second full moon after the solstice, Shiva (the first yogi) started sharing the knowledge of yoga to the rest of mankind. Dakshinayana is also said to be a particularly supportive period to pursue spiritual endeavors. And finally, the fact that a World Yoga Day was recognized by the UN and received well by so many countries gives yoga the recognition such a rich ancient practice deserves.
What can you do on World Yoga Day?
As so beautifully put by India’s Prime Minister, World Yoga Day is a day where oneness with yourself, the world and nature can be in the spotlight.
Spend time in nature.
Take the day off if you can and make it a nature expedition! Grab your hiking shoes and find a forest; find a beach and walk in the sand and the water. Make it a slower a day where you make time for connection with the natural world, be it your plants or your pets, the trees outside your windows or the lakes you can walk up to. Feel the wind, the rain, the sun on your skin as you sit outside for a little, taking in the sounds and smells of your surroundings. Make it a day of mindfulness where every little natural detail gets to be noticed and appreciated.
Enjoy time with your loved ones.
If yoga is about bringing the focus onto our sense of oneness with ourselves and the world, then our relationships have a major role to play in that. Without meaningful connections, we would easily feel isolated and lonely, so a day like World Yoga Day is the perfect excuse to gather your family members and friends, to call your grandma, to hug your children a little tighter. Not that we’d need an excuse for that.
Learn more about yoga.
If you find yourself always short on time to read that article you’ve had bookmarked forever or that book on your good-reads list, World Yoga Day is the perfect opportunity to sit down and get learning! The amazing thing about yoga is that the practice has been existing for so long, has received so many kinds of influences, that the learning never stops.
Favorite books to learn more about yoga:
- Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton
- Living the Sutras: A Guide to Wisdom Beyond the Mat by Kelly DiNardo
Favorite books to learn more about meditation:
Expert Tip: Turn your phone off, give back, organize a gathering or a potluck. And of course, meditate and do yoga!
2019 theme: Climate action
According to the UN, the theme of the year is climate action, a much-needed focus for a day of peace, reflection, and celebration. Although the organization doesn’t give any specific guidelines, you have many options to take action on this day.
One way is to also make it a car-free day to limit carbon emissions since the transport industry produces about 20 percent of our carbon emissions. You can also already prepare for Plastic Free July, an Australian initiative organized every year to raise awareness on plastic waste and encourage individuals and organizations alike to limit their plastic waste.
You can do so by getting yourself a reusable cup, water bottle, or even cutlery to get your daily coffee, water intake, or lunch on the go. And invite friends, family, and community to do the same!
Join in on the activities
All over the world, you’ll find events to attend on this very special day. Whether you’re looking to practice yoga with friends, meet fellow yogis, spend a day advocating for health and wellness, there are many ways to look for events happening around you.
Simply search World Yoga Day on Facebook, Google, or ask at your local studio if they’ve heard about anything happening. Alternatively, you can also use the hashtag #InternationalYogaDay2019 and #WorldYogaDay2019 and you’ll find events happening all around the world. It can also serve as inspiration if you’re looking to organize an event.