The concept of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the 69th session of the UNGA on 27th April 2014. A few months later, on 11 December 2014, a draft resolution was introduced by India in the General Assembly and endorsed by a record 175 member States. Thus, the International Day of Yoga was born. In respect to Yoga’s Vedic history, the auspicious day of June 21, being the summer solstice was selected as International Yoga Day. Countries all around celebrate the day with gusto and have accepted yoga as a part of their lives.
This year’s theme – “Yoga and Climate Action” – holds special significance for India as the country is set to take over the presidency of the Conference of Parties (COP) and will now set the stage for the discussion against climate change. It also holds special significance as the United Nations Secretary-General will convene a summit on climate change inviting countries to pledge their commitment to take climate action.
Yoga and Climate Action
Yoga is not a mere physical activity; it is a way of life. Sustainable living, as preached by yoga practitioners, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and the burden on the environment, it will also improve your health and that of your loved ones. The ethical and personal guidelines preached by yoga support the principles of Sustainable Developments Goals. The practice of yoga allows us to inculcate a lifestyle in which we make socially and ecologically informed choices in the following ways:
Firstly, due to the increase in ambient heat levels in many parts of the world, there has been an increase in the number of cardiac disease cases. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can lead to certain improvements in your health conditions that can help in the prevention of heart diseases. For instance, yoga improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin which is necessary to control the blood sugar levels. Also, practicing mind-calming meditation helps to calm the nerves and ease stress.
Secondly, the severe decrease in the quality of air that we breathe has reduced lung function and led to an increase in the number of chronic lung disease cases. But the practice of yogic breathing can help to strengthen the lungs and cleanse the nasal passage. The practice allows one to gain control of their breath and helps increase the oxygen intake.
The contemporary society has largely focused on the attainment of short-term material goals which has led to the degradation of our environment. On the other hand, yoga allows one to harmonise with nature and develop an ecological consciousness. Climate change is a series of ill-informed choices and making choices that are sustainable in nature gives us some hope regarding the future of our planet.
On The International Day of Yoga 2019, the United Nations in India collaborated with illustrators, storytellers, and designers to create visual stories on the theme #Yoga4ClimateAction