World Yoga Day

It’s the 21st of June, International Yoga Day 🕉 🧘🏻‍♀️ 🧘🏽

But what does it all mean?!

To celebrate, or not to celebrate, that is the question 🤔

The inspiration behind International or World Yoga Day first came about in 2014 at the United Nations general assembly. In his UN address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed this annual day as a promotion of global health, harmony and peace. In his speech he stated…

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It 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. 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.”

And so it was, the first World Yoga Day (WYD) came to pass on June 21st 2015. 

Narendra Modi’s speech indeed captures the essence of yoga: a practice that awakens the heart, illuminates the intellect, and cultivates a Divine kind of consciousness. A collective consciousness. 

Considering the noble goal of “awakening the heart and collective consciousness,” it’s challenging to comprehend any grounds for faulting or criticising a celebration like WYD. However, like any movement, it faces opposition and various criticisms. While WYD’s primary aim is to promote the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga—and elevate human consciousness—it is not immune to critique.

Some argue that WYD has become commercialised, with the yoga industry using it as a marketing opportunity, which dilutes the spiritual and holistic aspects of yoga. Critics also contend that the global celebration of yoga may lead to the cultural appropriation of yoga’s Indian roots and traditions, and some worry that it is being separated from its cultural heritage. These critics argue that the promotion of WYD by the Indian government has been a means to assert India’s soft power and global influence.

Some yoga practitioners also argue that WYD’s emphasis on asanas (physical postures) may exclude other important aspects of yoga, such as meditation and philosophy.

Despite these controversies, if we flip the perspective- Pratipakṣa Bhāvanam as Patanjali states in the Sutras: when disturbed by negative thoughts, turn the mind to cultivate the positive- there are many reasons to celebrate World Yoga Day. As Wayne Dyer put it, “change the way you see things, and the things you see will change.” This approach doesn’t necessitate denying the complexities and real sufferings of life, nor does it require finding the positive in every situation. Turning the mind to the positive in this sense is not about “spiritual bypassing.” Instead, the practice of pratipakṣa bhāvanam opens a door for us to lean into life’s adversities, and utilise the tools and wisdom gained through yoga practice to contribute to a more peaceful path, one free of conflict and focused on what truly matters.

World Yoga Day could serve as a powerful reminder of the unifying potential of yoga: a path that transcends boundaries, embraces diversity, and encourages us to seek inner peace and unity in a world too often divided.

Whether you choose to celebrate this day or not, the essence of yoga remains the same. Yoga is a tool for self-regulation, and a path to self-realisation, accessible to all, regardless of physical capacity or background. 

As we reflect on the interdependence of all of nature and the illusion of division, let us remember that yoga’s true purpose is to strengthen each individual’s unique connection with the Divine and promote a more harmonious and balanced world. So, why not let World Yoga Day be a celebration of these deeper intentions and the universal truth that binds us all?

Hari Om Tat Sat – In Reverence of the Supreme Oneness that connects us 🌍🧘🕉️🧘🏽‍♂️✨

Tanaya Ti en

Tanaya Ti en

When she’s not at home in Western Australia with her favourite humans, Florence the Dalmatian, and Turbo the rescue cat, Tanaya Ti’en is an accredited Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach, Civil Celebrant, and founder of Mind Body Collective Australia. Her passion, work, and philosophy is centred around the mind-body connection, and the mind’s role in illness, wellness, dis-ease, and the healing process.