- Yoga enthusiasts rolled out their mats as they stretched, twisted, and turned to perform yoga and sun salutations at various venues across the U.S. to commemorate the occasion.
Yoga enthusiasts across the country rolled out their mats as they stretched, twisted, and turned to perform yoga and sun salutations at various venues across the country to commemorate the 8th International Day of Yoga. As the summer solstice fell on Tuesday, June 21, the events spilled over two weekends. Celebrations coincided with the International Day of Yoga, established by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
In Washington, D.C., the Embassy of India observed the day on June 18 at the iconic Washington Monument, with the theme “Yoga for Humanity.” Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan was the guest of honor at the event. A large number of people from different walks of life participated in the celebrations.
Addressing the event, Ambassador of India to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu stated that yoga is an enhancer of physical, mental, spiritual and intellectual well-being. In the emerging post-covid scenario yoga is helping in building resilience, health, togetherness, compassion and happiness.
In his remarks, Panchanathan underlined that yoga has been the greatest gift of India to the world and that yoga was a strong uniting force across geographies and boundaries. He added that science and yoga are in synergy towards the prosperity of mind and body. As part of the celebrations, a common Yoga protocol session was conducted, which saw enthusiastic participation from those present.
Similarly, all the five Consulates of India held various programs to mark the International Day of Yoga.
In New York, The Indian Consulate in New York along with the Times Square Alliance, celebrated International Day of Yoga on June 21, at the iconic ‘Crossroads of the World.” India’s Consul General in New York, Randhir Jaiswal, kicked off the segment hosted by the consulate. He introduced Swami Acharya Adveshanand Giri who traveled from India to be at the event. The daylong event was attended by around 10,000 people, according to a press release by the Consulate General of India in New York.
For the past 20 years, yogis have come to Times Square to participate in an annual all-day outdoor yoga event to celebrate the Summer Solstice. It was established on June 21, 2003, with three people doing yoga at sunrise in Times Square, according to the Times Square Alliance. Two of those participants became the co-founders of Solstice in Times Square: Mind over Madness Yoga. Since then, this single event has grown to welcome thousands of yogis taking multiple classes throughout the day and filling one of the busiest intersections in the world with peace and calm.
Across town, at the United Nations headquarters, the North Lawn was transformed into a sprawling exercise area for the yoga demonstration session. Inaugurating the event, the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, triggering a deluge of anxiety and depression, “the practice of yoga serves as a holistic approach to the physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being of humanity.”
India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti said that during the difficult times of the pandemic, millions embraced yoga as their companion, to stay healthy, overcome depression and mental anxiety. “Yoga can also be an integral part of our build-back better strategy”, he said.
On the West Coast, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco marked the occasion with a celebration at the Golden Gate Bridge. Legion of the San Francisco Consular Corps, Isha Yoga, Yogabharati, Integral Yoga, Iyyengar Yoga, Bihar School of Yoga, school children and local Yoga enthusiasts joined the celebration. A similar celebration was held by the consulate at Crown Point Park in San Diego.
In Chicago, the consulate organized an event at Grant Park in Downtown Chicago on June 18. Consul General Amit Kumar delivered the inaugural remarks followed by the performance of the Common Yoga Protocol. Addressing the participants on IYD 2021 theme “Yoga for Humanity”, Kumar explained the importance of Yoga in contemporary times and acknowledged the efforts of Yoga organizations and the Indian American community in Midwest region for arranging a series of events to commemorate the 8th annual yoga day.
In addition to the main event at Grant Park in Chicago, which was attended by about 250 Yoga enthusiasts, the Indian Consulate in Chicago and Friends of Yoga hosted several events across several Midwest states.
The Indian American Cancer Network (IACAN) also observed the International Day of Yoga and National Cancer Survivor Day at Sugarland Memorial Park in Texas, June 21. Yoga and breathing, and meditation were conducted outdoors in crisp weather under the guidance of trained instructors.