South Africa takes part in International Day of Yoga

To mark International Day of Yoga, South Africans in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg gathered to stretch their muscles in yoga poses.

The United Nations proclaimed today, 21 June, as International Day of Yoga. The draft resolution was proposed by India last year and endorsed by a record 175 member states.

“Yoga balances body and soul, physical health and mental well-being,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “It promotes harmony among people, and between ourselves and the natural world. Recognising its universal appeal, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.”

What South Africa did

South Africa’s main event, co-ordinated by the Indian High Commission and its consulates, together with community organisations, was held on 19 June at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg.

Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam said while yoga was born in India, it was practised all over the world and that it belonged to everybody.

See the event at Zoo Lake:

“We are very blessed that in South Africa, there is already a very big culture of yoga with almost every major school from India being represented,” Ghanashyam told the news site, India Today. “They have been our very valuable partners in providing the guidance and support for these events.”

Message from India

“When I outlined a vision for an International Day of Yoga in September 2014 at the UN General Assembly, even I did not anticipate the enormous enthusiasm for the occasion from all corners of the world,” said Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

“Your support and participation last year, and once again now redeems our commitment to nurture and promote this ancient discipline, and reaffirms yoga as an exemplary manifestation of vasudhaiva kutumbakam – the world as one family.”

Modi recalled the inaugural day last year and described it as momentous and iconic. “All the way from the Pacific Islands to Port of Spain, from Vladivostok to Vancouver and from Copenhagen to Cape Town, thousands gathered to unite the bodies and minds through the practice of yoga.”

Holistic health benefits

Originating in India, the word “yoga” is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or unite; it is symbolic of the union of the physical body and consciousness.

Yoga embodied unity of thought and action, Modi said at the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly. “Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.”

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Noting its global benefits as a sport, Ban said yoga could contribute to development and peace. “Practising yoga can also help to raise awareness of our role as consumers of the planet’s resources and as individuals with a duty to respect and live in peace with our neighbours,” he said.

“All these elements are essential to building a sustainable future of dignity and opportunity for all.”

Ban urged people across the world to embrace healthier lives and commit to unity regardless of ethnicity, faith, age, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Let us celebrate this day – and every day – as members of one human family sharing one
common, precious home.”

South Africa.info reporter