AYUSH – Indian Medicine System

International Day of Yoga: Spreading Wellness and Preserving Tradition


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: International Day of Yoga and Initiatives taken by India

Mains level: Yoga, its significance, benefits and India's wisdom of Yoga


Central Idea

  • The International Day of Yoga (IDY), initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, holds immense significance this year as it is being celebrated at the UN headquarters in New York. Over the past nine years, the IDY has gained tremendous popularity, raising awareness about the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of practicing yoga.

What is Yoga?

  • Yoga is a holistic practice that originated in ancient India. It encompasses physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), meditation, and ethical principles.
  • The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to unite or join.
  • The practice of yoga aims to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit, promoting overall well-being and inner transformation


Significance and Benefits of Yoga

  • Physical Health: Yoga promotes physical well-being by improving flexibility, strength, balance, and overall fitness. Regular practice can help prevent and manage various physical ailments, enhance immune function, increase energy levels, and improve overall vitality.
  • Mental and Emotional Well-being: Yoga is known for its positive effects on mental and emotional health. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by promoting relaxation, calming the mind, and cultivating mindfulness. Yoga practices such as meditation and breath control can enhance mental clarity, focus, and emotional resilience.
  • Holistic Approach: Unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga takes a holistic approach, addressing the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit. It recognizes that physical health is deeply intertwined with mental and emotional well-being, promoting a balanced and integrated approach to overall wellness.
  • Self-Discovery and Self-Transformation: Yoga provides a path for self-exploration and self-realization. Through self-reflection and introspection, practitioners gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behavior. This process of self-discovery can lead to personal growth, self-acceptance, and a greater sense of purpose in life.
  • Stress Reduction and Relaxation: In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, yoga offers valuable tools for managing stress and promoting relaxation. Breathing techniques, meditation, and specific yoga poses help activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress and promoting a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Cultivation of Mindfulness: Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment, is a core component of yoga. By cultivating mindfulness during yoga practice, individuals learn to bring that same awareness and presence into their daily lives. This fosters greater attention, focus, and an increased ability to engage fully in each moment.
  • Spiritual Growth: For those seeking spiritual growth and connection, yoga provides a pathway. It offers practices and philosophies that explore deeper aspects of the self and the universe. Yoga’s ancient wisdom and teachings encourage individuals to seek a higher purpose, expand their consciousness, and experience a sense of unity with all of existence.


How India is Promoting Yoga?

  • International Day of Yoga (IDY): The IDY, initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been a significant platform for promoting yoga globally. India organizes and celebrates the IDY with great enthusiasm, showcasing yoga’s cultural and health benefits to the world.
  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR): The ICCR, under the Ministry of External Affairs, plays a crucial role in promoting yoga internationally. It organizes international conferences, seminars, and workshops to foster a deeper understanding of yoga’s holistic nature and its connections with other traditional wellness practices.
  • Ministry of AYUSH: The Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) has been at the forefront of promoting yoga in India. It implements various initiatives and schemes to support the development and promotion of yoga, including research, education, and awareness campaigns.
  • Swami Vivekananda District Yoga Health Centres: In the aftermath of the International Day of Yoga in 2015, the Government of India established 150 Swami Vivekananda District Yoga Health Centres across the country. These centers offer yoga training, workshops, and therapy to promote yoga’s health benefits at the grassroots level.
  • AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres: As part of the government’s efforts to integrate yoga into the healthcare system, 1,25,000 AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres have been established. These centers provide traditional healthcare services, including yoga and Ayurveda, to rural and underserved communities.
  • Tele Yoga Advisory: The Department of AYUSH, in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) and S-VYASA University, has developed a Tele Yoga Advisory. This initiative utilizes telemedicine technology to provide yoga guidance and therapy remotely, making it accessible to a wider population.
  • Yoga Education in Universities: Several universities in India have started dedicated departments and academic programs focused on yoga. Six central universities offer full-fledged departments of yoga, while over 30% of private, state, and deemed universities have introduced certificate, diploma, or undergraduate/postgraduate programs in yoga.
  • International Collaborations: India collaborates with various countries and international organizations to promote yoga globally. These collaborations include joint research projects, cultural exchanges, and organizing international yoga conferences and festivals.
  • Standards and Certification: India is working towards establishing standards and certification processes for yoga accessories and practices. The Bureau of Indian Standards, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, is involved in creating quality standards for yoga accessories to ensure good industrial practices.
  • National Yogasana Sport Federation: India has taken the lead in establishing the National Yogasana Sport Federation, which aims to standardize and introduce yogasana-based competitions at the national level. This initiative helps promote yogasanas as a competitive sport, encouraging more people to engage with yoga.

How the IDY has Transformed Yoga into a Global Phenomenon?

  • Global Recognition and Celebration: The IDY, initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gained recognition at the international level when it was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. This official recognition brought global attention to yoga as a valuable practice for holistic well-being.
  • Increased Awareness and Accessibility: The IDY has created greater awareness about the benefits of yoga for physical, mental, and emotional health. It has highlighted yoga as a practice that is accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds. This has encouraged individuals worldwide to explore and embrace yoga as part of their wellness routines.
  • Cross-cultural Exchange: The IDY has facilitated cross-cultural exchange by encouraging participation from people of diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. This celebration of yoga as a universal practice has fostered understanding, respect, and unity among different communities worldwide.
  • International Participation: The IDY has seen enthusiastic participation from a large number of countries, including 192 countries in the first celebration in 2015. The participation of 44 Islamic countries in the IDY demonstrates that yoga has transcended religious and cultural boundaries, gaining acceptance and popularity worldwide.
  • Promotion by Indian Government: The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Ministry of External Affairs, with the support of the Ministry of AYUSH, have actively promoted yoga through various initiatives. These efforts have included organizing international conferences, fostering collaborations, and promoting the holistic nature of yoga.
  • Research and Health Benefits: The IDY has encouraged research in yoga and its therapeutic benefits. This has resulted in a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the positive impact of yoga on physical and mental health. The WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of AYUSH, has developed resources and initiatives to educate people about the therapeutic benefits of yoga.
  • Integration into Healthcare Systems: Many countries have recognized the value of yoga in promoting wellness and have incorporated it into their healthcare systems. Yoga has been integrated into rehabilitation programs, chronic disease management, mental health interventions, and overall preventive healthcare strategies.
  • Cultural Exchange and Yoga Tourism: The IDY has promoted cultural exchange by encouraging people to explore yoga’s roots in India. This has led to an increase in yoga tourism, with people visiting India to experience authentic yoga practices, learn from experienced teachers, and immerse themselves in the country’s rich yoga heritage.

Way Forward: Preserving the Essence of Yoga

  • Respect for Traditional Roots: Emphasize the importance of understanding and respecting the traditional roots of yoga. Encourage practitioners and teachers to explore the philosophical and historical aspects of yoga, studying ancient texts, and learning from experienced teachers who have deep knowledge of yoga’s traditions.
  • Authentic Teacher Training: Promote rigorous and comprehensive teacher training programs that uphold the values, principles, and ethics of yoga. Ensure that teacher trainings include a deep study of yogic philosophy, anatomy, teaching methodologies, and practical experience under the guidance of qualified and experienced instructors.
  • Continuing Education: Encourage yoga teachers to engage in continuous learning and professional development. Encourage them to attend workshops, seminars, and conferences to deepen their understanding of yoga and stay updated on the latest research and practices. Continuing education helps teachers refine their skills and maintain the authenticity of their teachings.
  • Emphasis on Personal Practice: Encourage practitioners and teachers to prioritize their personal practice. Regular and dedicated personal practice helps individuals embody the essence of yoga and deepen their understanding of its transformative power. It also allows them to share their own authentic experiences with others.
  • Integrity in Teaching: Encourage teachers to uphold the integrity of yoga by teaching with clarity, respect, and authenticity. Emphasize the importance of honoring individual differences, providing modifications and variations, and creating a safe and inclusive environment for practitioners.
  • Collaboration with Traditional Practitioners: Foster collaborations between modern yoga practitioners and traditional yoga masters. Create opportunities for dialogue, exchange of knowledge, and mutual learning. By bridging the gap between ancient traditions and contemporary practices, we can preserve and integrate the essence of yoga.
  • Mindful Innovation: While it is important to honor tradition, allow space for mindful innovation within the practice of yoga. Encourage exploration and adaptation of yoga to suit the needs of diverse populations, while maintaining the core principles and values of yoga



  • The International Day of Yoga has played a vital role in promoting the practice worldwide, creating awareness about its numerous benefits, and fostering research and standardization efforts. As yoga continues to evolve globally, it is essential to protect its integrity and ensure its preservation for future generations.

Also read:

Ayurveda Practice: Significant Challenges


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