UNITED NATIONS: The “most diverse” International Yoga Day observances are slated to be held over two days at the UN headquarters where the ancient holistic science of India will be celebrated by a microcosm of the world’s nationalities, religions and cultures, blending its practice and yogic meals with digital interactivity, glamour, and an examination of its relevance to the global body’s mission.
On Yoga Day June 21, “Sadhguru” Jaggi Vasudev will lead the celebrations at the circle in front of the glass-fronted UN headquarters tower by holding a session of simple yoga practice and yogic chants.
General Assembly President Morgens Lykketoft is to be the the chief guest at the event and Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communication and Public Information, a featured speaker.
“Yoga teaches us how to achieve inner peace and lead healthier lives,” Gallach told IANS Friday explaining the relevance of the celebration. “The International Day of Yoga gives us an opportunity to bring this message to the United Nations.”
“We expect a huge turnout at Yoga Day gathering at the UN Secretariat Circle,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told IANS. “We hope that it will be the most diverse gathering of Yoga participants ever.”
Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, is expected to add a touch of of glamour to the event.
Special Yogic meals are on the menu for the celebration.
A day earlier on June 20, which is the Summer Solstice Day this year, a meeting at the UN will focus on how yoga can promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders last September.
The inner peace and healthy lifestyles that yoga inculcates “is crucial if we are to respect each other, and to respect all forms of life on Earth and below water,” Gallach said. “In that way it helps us to achieve the SDGs.”
“Emphasis is on enhancing awareness that Yoga is a holistic approach rather than only physical activity,” Akbaruddin said. “Hence we are having for the first time ‘Conversations with Yoga Masters’ on how Yoga can help in achieving SDGs.”
He added, “Ambassadors and diplomats from various countries will also share their own experiences of how yoga has influenced their life styles at this seminal event.”
Vasudev will be the lead speaker at the event organised jointly by India’s UN Permanent Mission and the UN Department of Public Information.
The meeting will incorporate a digital interactive element by welcoming questions about yoga on the Twitter handle #Yoga4SDGs that will be answered by Vasudev and Tao Porchon-Lynch. The 97-year-old Porchon-Lynch is considered the world’s oldest yoga teacher in a formal setting, and is an author and a former actress, documentary film-maker and screenplay writer.
In a unique demonstration of how yoga can promote peace, the 7,695 Indian peacekeepers are to join in the celebrations. “Indian peace keepers are also practising to observe International Yoga Day in 13 Peace Keeping Operations that they are deployed in, tangibly demonstrating the role of yoga in promoting peace and harmony,” Akbaruddin said.
The International Yoga Day was proclaimed unanimously in 2014 by the General Assembly following up a proposal made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Making the case for the international day, Modi told the Assembly, “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health, and well being.”
The first Yoga Day celebrations were held last year at the UN and around the world.
Yoga is relevant to achieving at least four of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. These are ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, and promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.