Today, millions of people across the world are celebrating the second International Yoga Day. Last year, the United Nations adopted June 21 as International Day of Yoga with the support of 170+ countries during its general assembly. Yoga is much beyond the physical postures that many are aware of. The word Yoga means Union – a holistic approach to health and well-being, to finding the sense of oneness within you, the world the nature and the Universe. “Yoga is to expand the boundary of your sensation in such a way that you experience the whole universe as a part of yourself. Everything becomes one. That is union.”
The UN hosted a discussion in New York yesterday with Yoga masters on “Yoga for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. Thanks to technology – we were able to watch and listen to it LIVE online. The discussion was attended by international dignitaries and yoga masters Sadhguru Vasudev (yogi, mystic and humanitarian) and Tao Porchon-Lynch (at 97 years old, considered the world’s oldest yoga teacher). It’s our privilege to share our take aways from the “Conversation with Masters: Yoga for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”
One of the most attention grabbing statements made during the discussion came from Sadhguru – “Yoga is not Indian, if you call Yoga Indian – we must call gravity European.” According to Sadhguru, Yoga, originated in India, is a gift to the world. It’s an absolute science and technology for well-being. Science cannot be Indian “because of its universality and absoluteness.” The very fact that the UN has declared an International Yoga Day means India has gifted it to the world.
In his address, Sadhguru focused on yoga as a science and technology for human betterment that, he said, went beyond just physical well-being. The path to achieving the sustainability development goals (SDGs) starts with the individual. “You cannot transform the world without changing the individual. The world is a larger manifestation of who we are.” – he added.
Tao Porchon-Lynch, considered the world’s oldest yoga teacher started Yoga when she was eight with inspiration from her uncle. Having met, mentored and walked with many yoga teachers, masters and leaders like Mahathma Gandhi- she is an inspiration to millions for her message of Oneness and example of vibrant living. Her message is to be fearless and “not to be afraid. When you believe in something, go and do it”. She recalls this from her meeting with Mahathma Gandhi.
Nata Menabde, WHO (World Health Organization) executive director, lived in India for 5 years to experience the power of Yoga. Under her leadership, WHO is integrating yoga and traditional practices into the allopathic medicine system and primary health services. Sadhguru added to her idea of integrating eastern and western systems. He urged us not to limit ourselves to a particular system as every system has many good things to offer as well as its own limitations. The Isha Foundation has been integrating good thoughts and teachings from a variety of systems including Allopathy, Ayurveda and Sidha to assist many villagers with common aliments as well as to practice and sustain a healthy life.
Yogmata Keiko Aikawa, a Japanese yoga master shared her own experiences and the wisdom she’s gained from her forty-five-year study of yoga, meditation, and healing arts. According to her, Yoga and meditation will enable us to live a true and happy life in the spirit of love and peace – thus making the world a better place.
Another idea that rang throughout the discussion is yoga truly meaning harmony with nature. Integrating nature into our design and finding balance that supports the people and our planet at the same time should be our focus. As India’s Prime Minister Modi shared, getting back to the basics can serve us all in many ways.
We feel it’s a move in the right direction for world leaders to consider thinking inside-out, looking to solve the problems around us by starting within ourselves.
We would love to hear your thoughts on integrating Yoga as a solution to meet SDGs. Did you watch the discussion? Can Yoga assist us in meeting our sustainability goals and make the world a better place for us to live in? Share your ideas with us below!
Written by: Jeslin Varghese, Kayla Gerstenberg