International Yoga Day: Check Significance and History of Yoga

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 7, 2022, 7:57

On 27th September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed 'Yoga Day' in a speech to the UN General Assembly. The resolution proposed by India was subsequently approved by a record 177 member states. The first international yoga day was globally celebrated on 21st June 2015.

Today, it is practised and celebrated in monumental ways across the globe and is becoming more and more popular. Considering its universal appeal, the United Nations declared 21st June as International Day of Yoga on 11th December 2014.

Why 21st June?

The summer solstice occurs on 21st June and has worthwhile relevance and significance in several parts of the world. It is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. 21st June was chosen at the suggestion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to this very reason, being that it is considered a culturally important day.

The Yoga Practice Memorial was organized by Indian Prime Minister Modi himself in September 2014. More than 35k people and officials from 84 countries joined PM Modi in New Delhi, India, to practice yoga asanas for 35 minutes in Rajpath.

History of Yoga

Yoga is a form of physical activity and a soulful practice that enables emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Yoga has been practised in pre-Vedic India since 3000 BC and has a significant role in ancient texts such as Rigveda and Upanishads. 

The earliest forms of yoga include exercise, physical fitness, meditation, and spirituality. It is mentioned in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. In the 4th century BCE, Patanjali Yoga Sutra defined yoga as calming fluctuations or patterns of consciousness.

Mahabharata Hindu texts refer to three types of yoga:

  • Action (karma)
  • Dedication (bhakti)
  • Knowledge (Jnana)

These types together connect the body, soul, and mind. The word 'yoga' is derived from Sanskrit, and its literal meaning is to 'connect' or 'unify'. It symbolizes the connection between the body and consciousness.

Significance of the International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day aims to draw attention to the many benefits of yoga around the world. The logo shows folded hands that symbolize the amalgamation of individual and universal consciousness and depict the perfect harmony between mind and body, man and nature.

The brown leaves symbolize the elements of the earth, the green leaves symbolize nature, the blue represents the elements of water, the brightness symbolizes the elements of fire, and the sun depicts the source of inspiration and energy.

This essence of harmony and peace of humankind is also reflected in several international yoga day quotes.

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FAQs about International Yoga Day

Q.1. What are the different International Yoga Day themes since 2015?

The various themes are as follows:

  • 2015: Yoga for Harmony and Peace
  • 2016: Yoga for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • 2017: Yoga for Health
  • 2018: Yoga for Peace
  • 2019: Yoga for Heart
  • 2020: Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family
  • 2021: Yoga for Well-being

Q.2. Should yoga only be practised in the morning?

Although not mandatory, it's best to practice yoga on an empty stomach in the mornings. You can also do yoga in the afternoon, but only on an empty stomach. The evening hours are also good for practising yoga unless you have an additional meal in between.

Q.4. What is the importance of yoga at school?

There are more than 100 yoga schools around the world. Since 1988, yoga has always been an integral part of health and physical education classes. The 2005 National Curriculum Framework takes a holistic approach to health. As a result, yoga has become a component of experiential learning rather than part of education and training.

Q.5. When is International Yoga Day celebrated?

International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21st June every year.

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Neha DhyaniNeha DhyaniMember since Jul 2017
An IT engineer turned Writer, Neha is a versatile content creator at ‘Gradeup’, who covers news and top stories of the education sector. She has been in the industry since 2015. She is passionate about her work, however, when she isn’t crafting content, she’s probably reading, playing badminton, watching YouTube or just lazing around. Her email address is