The 21st June is International Yoga Day, a day to reflect on this wonder practise and consider what it does for you and the rest of the world.

Why Did it Start?

International Day of Yoga started in 2014 and was founded by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. He vision was to single out a day to think about the ways in which Yoga can be used to change the world around us. In particular, Modi sees yoga as a means to tackle Climate Change.

In a speech he made at the UN General Assembly, Modi said:

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; 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 nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

It is the yoga tradition of mindfulness and compassion that Modi believed could help us address some of the biggest issues that we face in society today, and on the 14th October 2014 International Yoga Day was made official.

Why the 21st July?

The 21st July was suggested by Modi. For those living in the northern hemisphere, it is the longest day or the year, and shortest in the southern hemisphere, and therefore is a significant date for many across the world, but also specifically for those in the yoga community who are marking the transition into Dakshinayana.

How can I celebrate?

There are lots of official events running around the world. 72 students and teachers from India will be performing at the UN headquarters in New York, and there are more events listed on the International Day of Yoga website.

But you don’t have to be part of an official celebration to get involved. Taking time during the day to reflect on your personal yoga journey, what it has done for you and where you want to take it, is a great way to evaluate the significance of yoga in your own life.

It’s also an opportunity to move forward with your practice. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about taking private yoga lessons and just needed one last push to make the call? Or maybe there’s something that you really want to work on in your practice, like your spirituality or understanding of yoga traditions. Why not use International Yoga Day as a way to strike up a conversation with your teacher, ask them about their own yoga journeys and see if you can work on the spiritual side of yoga together.

Or maybe you could call a friend, see if they’re interested in coming to practise with you and spread the word about the benefits of yoga.

Whatever way you decide to celebrate, do it with pride knowing that you are part of a community with the power to do good in the world.