On 21 June, many countries across the world celebrated the third International Day of Yoga.
“In Indonesia, it was celebrated in several cities such as Denpasar-Bali, Surabaya and Medan”, said Mr. Makrand Shukla, the Director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre (JNICC). In Jakarta, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Jakarta collaborated with the Embassy of India for Indonesia and Timor Leste to celebrate the Day at Taman Menteng on 17 June 2017.
The Acting Director of UNIC Jakarta, Ms. Eshila Maravanyika, and Charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of India, Mr. Manish gave opening remarks at the commemoration attended by over 1,000 people.
The idea for declaring an International Day of Yoga at the United Nations was formally proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his address to the 69th UN General Assembly on 27 September 2014 and said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. 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 us deal with climate change”.
The UN General Assembly Resolution A/Res/69/131, which was adopted by acclamation in December 2014 with a record number of 177 member states, established the International Day of Yoga to be observed on 21 June each year. The resolution notes “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health”.
Although the Day was celebrated during Ramadhan, all the participants were very enthusiastic and woke up early to join the session at 0600 hours. Participants included officials from government institutions, diplomatic and yoga communities, university students, journalists, staff from the Embassy of India, UN agencies and the general public.
The main instructor at the Embassy of India, Mr. Arun Yevle, and the Indonesian film Actor, Mr. Andjasmara, led a 55-minute-yoga workout accompanied by music the Indian Cultural Centre.
All the participants were presented with symbolic certificates followed by group photos.
Yoga exercise is particularly relevant to Sustainable Development Goal 3:4 which specifically calls for a reduction by 2030 “by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention, treatment and the promotion of mental health and well-being”. It fits in very well with the healthy lifestyle that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been strongly advocating for, throughout the life cycle - from childhood to healthy ageing. As noted by Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, in his statement at the third International Day of Yoga said, “Though finding time for exercise can be challenging, it is fundamental to life-long health and wellbeing. The 5000-year-old practice of yoga is considered an effective way to increase strength and flexibility, enhance cardio-fitness, burn calories and relax the mind. It has also been known to help cultivate routine and integrate physical activity into daily life”.