United Nations Hosts First Ever International Day of Yoga

June 21, 2015, the United Nations hosted the first ever International Day of Yoga. The official Indian government estimate cites an audience size in India alone of at least 500 million people and global participation of nearly 2 billion in over 190 countries and more than 240 cities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the largest yoga demonstration in history from Delhi: “I believe that from the 21st of June, through the International Day of Yoga, it is not just the beginning of a day but the beginning of a new age through which we will achieve greater heights of peace, good will and train the human spirit.” At the United Nations Headquarters Secretary-General delivered opening remarks, followed by various dignitaries which included an inspiring presentation by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and and GSI President, Jonathan Granoff, as well as relaxed yoga asanas (postures) and a meditation led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In his remarks, which can be found in their entirety below, Mr. Granoff stressed the importance of yoga and its wisdom as it relates to not just personal enrichment, but also the health of relations amongst nations. 
“Not only is [this] ethical and spiritual truth good for our personal lives but when nations treat other nations accordingly, stability, security, and peace result,” he said. “It is time for a United Nations yoga: Nations must treat other nations as they wish to be treated.” 
The formality of this process should not be overlooked, The 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by acclamation draft Resolution A/69/L.17 in December 2014, establishing June 21 of each year as The International Day of Yoga. The resolution received with a record number of 177 out of 193 member states co-sponsoring.

“Not only is [this] ethical and spiritual truth good for our personal lives but when nations treat other nations accordingly, stability, security, and peace result,” he said. “It is time for a United Nations yoga: Nations must treat other nations as they wish to be treated.” 

Modi leads International Day of Yoga in New Delhi (Adnan Abadi/Reuters)

 

Commemorations at the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

 

International Day of Yoga observed in Xingtai, China (China Foto Press/Getty Images)

 

GSI President Jonathan Granoff with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the International Day of Yoga

 

Watch it live: 

 

View a slideshow of photos from the UN and Times Square, produced by UN Web TV:

 

Remarks of GSI President, Jonathan Granoff, on the first ever commemoration of the International Day of Yoga: 

Mr. Secretary-General, Your Excellencies, Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

May we all be healthy with hearts that are true and actions that show kindness. 

Thank you India and Prime Minister Modi for enlivening ancient wisdom for this modern age.

Yoga is about so much more than just exercising our bodies. 

It is about the connectivity of life and reminds us that all lives are joined. 

The arc of each individual precious life is as unique as each wave on the ocean.

And every wave is connected to the entire ocean. 

We live in the light of life and that light lives in us.

Yoga is knowing this connectivity of life and the preciousness of every life.

The heart that feels this connection will want well-being and peace for all.

This is universal.

Knowing and living Shanti, Peace, Salaam, Shalom. That is yoga.

If we can separate from ourselves that which separates us from one another we will know and be that peace.

Qualities such as Anger, Pride, Falsehood, Jealousy, Hastiness, Hypocrisy, Fanaticism, Prejudice, and Bigotry separate us from one another. 

Love, Compassion, Generosity, Justice, Tolerance, Humility, and Gratitude not only bring us together with one another, they open the door to inner peace.

The same qualities that bring us together as a human community bring us harmony and fulfillment within.

The manifestation of this truth is the Golden Rule:

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” UDANAVARGA, 5:18;

Christianity: “All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them.” Matthew 7:12;

Confucianism: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Analects 15:23; 

Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517;

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for others that which he desires for himself.” Hadith;

Jainism: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara;

Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the law; all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a;

Zoroastrianism: “That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatsoever is not good for its own self.” Dadistan-I-Dinik, 94:5.

This rule is the most practical guide for both our inner and outer conduct. 

Not only is this ethical and spiritual truth good for our personal lives but when nations treat other nations accordingly stability, security and peace result.

It is time for a United Nations yoga:

Nations must treat other nations as they wish to be treated.

May our hearts be free of fear and courageous in compassion. 

May we be free of the bondage of mind, desire, egoism, and pride and be the peace appropriate to the human birth.

The nations of the world are composed of individual souls all wanting the same kindness and security. May we, each of us, open our hearts to the infinite light of peace and bring that treasure into the world. May God bless all nations and all peoples, and every single precious life.