International Yoga Day: What is it and how can I celebrate?

YOGA is well known for both its physical and mental health benefits.

But did you know there's a day to celebrate the practice? Here's everything you need to know…

What is International Yoga Day?

International Yoga Day is marked annually around the world, celebrating the activity which originated in India.

It was first proposed by the country's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking in 2014, he said: "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition.

"It 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.

"It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.

"By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."

When did it start?

The first International Yoga Day was celebrated in 2015 – a year after Modi suggested the concept.

In his address, he also proposed marking the occasion on the same day as summer solstice as it is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere – meaning it has the same significance for many countries.

The UN stated in 2015 it would be held on June 21 each year, and 2021's theme is "yoga for well-being".

How can I celebrate International Yoga Day?

Each year, yoga fans come together and lay down their mats in parks and the streets alike to show their love for the activity.

Usually, there are big organised gatherings but Covid has put paid to many plans.

This year, scaled back celebrations have been held – with many choosing to instead celebrate in private.

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