The first ever UN-approved International Day of Yoga is fast approaching. And now it’s been reported that India’s leader will be publicly yoga-ing in celebration come June 21st.
According to Reuters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will “practice physical poses and breathing control” at the country’s main event, government spokespeople confirm. Apparently it’s not just for show, though. Modi practices yoga regularly.
“He says he performs Yoga exercises every day and credits them with giving him energy so he only needs a few hours sleep each night.”
Hm. Not sure that’s something we’d promote – we’re sleeping right now! (Kidding.) To each their own. (zzzzzz…)
Modi has been the star proponent of bringing international awareness to the ancient practice of yoga while making sure everyone knows where it comes from. The Prime Minister presented the idea of International Yoga Day in his speech to the United Nations back in September – “Yoga should not be just an exercise for us, but it should be a means to get connected with the world and with nature,” he said declaring yoga “India’s gift.” And by December it was so, with 177 countries in support. There’s even an official logo!
For the countries opting not to participate, observances will be held at the embassies, said India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj.
“We will observe the day going beyond the 177 countries who have helped pass the resolution by bringing in the rest as well. Internal events will be organized at the Embassy premises in those countries where local regulations do not permit holding of yoga,” Swaraj said.
India suddenly means business when it comes to yoga and its ancient healing history and it wants the world to know it. Besides spearheading the International Day of Yoga, India’s government recently created its very first department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) which they built to manage the nation’s health systems as well as enter into the estimated $100 billion global market for alternative medicine. They are reportedly allocating 10.69 billion rupees ($174 million) to develop and promote traditional health systems for the 2014-15 financial year, and looking to largely increase that in coming years.
“This is our system and it has not received enough prominence. We will take it to the masses,” said Shripad Naik, who will head up AYUSH.
It’s interesting, for sure. Taking ownership is one thing. But we’re fairly sure the masses are already pretty hip to yoga by now. What would be really interesting is if leaders from around the world all practiced yoga in public on International Yoga Day – we smell another Coke commercial! Or, in the very least, some very popular Instagram accounts.
photo credit: REUTERS/Rick Stevens