Celebrating International Day of Yoga

By: Isabella Koepf, Yoga Therapist, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Nutritionist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, 500-Hour Yoga Teacher, Health Coach

Celebrating International Day of Yoga

The international day of yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon, with yoga practitioners celebrating in unique ways from all over! Yoga is an ancient tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it has only grown in popularity over time. International yoga day is a wonderful opportunity to honor the tradition of yoga and renew your excitement for your practice both on and off the mat.

In this article, we will dive into your burning questions about the international day of yoga, including what it is the international day of yoga, who created it, when it is, and the best part – how to celebrate it! Each person may celebrate international yoga day a bit differently, but we will provide you with some exciting ideas to make this international day of yoga one to remember.

What is the International Day of Yoga?

The international day of yoga is essentially what it sounds like – it is a day dedicated to celebrating yoga around the world! The primary aim of creating the international yoga day was to raise awareness of the benefits of yoga and to encourage more people to engage in this profoundly transformational practice.

The United Nations has created various days throughout the year to honor and celebrate specific individuals, groups, and practices as a way to raise awareness and unify humanity for a common goal. And what better goal for the world to get behind than the power of yoga? International yoga day is not a formal holiday in which schools or institutions close down. Instead, it is an opportunity for us to reflect and share the gifts of yoga so that more people can become inspired by all that yoga has to offer.

Who Created the International Day of Yoga?

The international day of yoga was created by the United Nations (UN) after a proposal at the UN meeting from India. This proposal was then endorsed by 177 member states – which is a record level of support! The concept of international yoga day was first proposed on December 11th, 2014, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. As India is the birthplace of yoga, the Indian prime minister took the initiative to popularize yoga around the world with the commemoration of the international day of yoga, and the UN member states unanimously agreed!

When is the International Day of Yoga?

The international day of yoga falls on June 21st every year. Since the first celebration of this day in 2015, the international day of yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon celebrating the power of yoga in daily life. The 21st of June is also known as the summer solstice, making this a particularly auspicious day to celebrate the gifts of yoga.

Why is International Yoga Day Celebrated on June 21st?

Many people have asked why international yoga day is celebrated on June 21st. The answer to this question goes back to the roots of yoga philosophy. In many yoga traditions, the primary goal of this practice is to unify individual consciousness with supreme consciousness. The individual consciousness or atman is often referred to as the inner light, and the supreme consciousness is often visualized as an external light or flame. Many yoga traditions also honor the sun deity or Surya through the practice of sun salutations or Surya Namaskar.

June 21st is the longest day of the year when the sun remains in the sky for the greatest amount of time, bathing our planet in its warm light. The choice of this day was not accidental. June 21st was chosen for the international day of yoga to remind us of the primary goal of yoga practice – to unify the light of our inner consciousness with the light of the supreme consciousness, represented by the sun.

Additionally, in ancient yoga philosophy, the summer solstice is close to the date of Guru Poornima, which is the second full moon after the summer solstice. On this date, it is believed that Shiva, known as Adi Yogi or the first yogi, began to share the knowledge of yoga with others and introduce us to this ancient wisdom.

It is also important to note that there is some political controversy surrounding international yoga day, with some countries stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced this day to solidify yoga as India’s cultural property and as a political effort. However, critics have pushed back against this theory stating that yoga is a universal practice for all people. Additionally, honoring the ancient roots of yoga does not detract from the modern benefits that individuals gain from yoga practice, no matter what their cultural or religious background is.

How to Celebrate International Yoga Day

International yoga day is celebrated around the world in different ways. Depending on where you are located, your region may have unique opportunities to honor the international day of yoga, so make sure to check in with local yoga studios to see what they might be doing.

No matter where you are, there are a few unique ways to celebrate this holiday and honor the power of yoga. Even if all you do is your typical yoga practice or join a local yoga class, you can still bring some conscious intentionality to your practice on that day to celebrate all the gifts that yoga brings into your life. See below for the top 5 ways to celebrate international yoga day!

1.     Practice a Yoga Mala or 108 Sun Salutations

One of the most popular practices on international yoga day is the yoga mala, which is the practice of flowing through 108 sun salutations or Surya Namaskaram. The number 108 holds great significance in the yoga tradition as it is the same number of beads on a mala necklace, often used in chanting meditations to count the repetitions of a mantra. Practicing 108 sun salutations is an incredibly challenging practice, but it can also be profoundly transformative and rewarding to engage in this physical, mental, and spiritual feat!

2.     Celebrate with Others

The international day of yoga is centered on the idea of sharing the gifts of yoga practice with others. So, what better way to do that than to practice in a group? Many yoga studios and centers offer special international yoga day celebrations, and it is truly a profound experience to practice with hundreds of other people simultaneously. If there aren’t any local celebrations near you, then you might consider starting up your own group class in a park or even attending an online yoga class instead.

3.     Study Yoga Philosophy

Yoga is so much more than just poses; it is a profound spiritual tradition. On this international day of yoga, it can also be an opportunity to dive deeper into the mystical philosophy of yoga and learn about the ancient roots of this practice. Even if you just read one page out of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, it can be a fantastic start on your journey into the depths of yoga.

4.     Engage in Conscious Intention Setting

The international day of yoga can also be the perfect opportunity to engage in self-reflection and set an intention for your yoga practice. Perhaps you can set a resolution to start a daily yoga practice or even take this time to reflect on your gratitude for yoga and what it has provided in your life. You can do this practice in meditation or through journaling – whatever brings you closer to the experience of your inner consciousness!

5.     Honor Your Parampara or Yoga Tradition

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and we have many ancient teachers to thank for preserving and passing on this wisdom for us to immerse in. International yoga day can also be an opportunity to reflect on the lineage of teachers that brought you this wisdom and express gratitude for these gifts. If you don’t know the lineage or Parampara of your yoga tradition, you can always express gratitude to Shiva, known as the first yogi or Adi Yogi!

Honor International Yoga Day by Becoming a Yoga Teacher Online!

International yoga day is a beautiful day to honor the depth of yoga practice in your life and to renew your commitment to your practice. It is common for yoga practitioners to lose touch with their yoga practice over time – we all know how life can get in the way sometimes! But the more that we remember to return to our practice when we lose touch, the deeper we will go on this journey and the stronger foundation of wellbeing we can build in our lives.

One of the best ways to dive deeper into yoga on this upcoming international day of yoga is by joining an online yoga teacher training. Becoming a yoga teacher means taking the first step on a profound journey of inner and outer transformation, and what better day to take that step than on the international day of yoga! Reach out to us for more information to join our online yoga teacher training today and celebrate this international yoga day on an even deeper level.