Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on UN Declaration of June 21st as World Yoga Day

12th December 2014

I congratulate Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the United Nation’s declaration of World Yoga Day. It is very difficult for any philosophy, religion or culture to survive without state patronage. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now, official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of yoga to the entire world.

India is the land where yoga was born and we must finally take the responsibility to spread it everywhere, starting from classrooms. This will help young people to move away from gun culture and violence.

Yoga is a lifestyle and should not be mistaken for only asanas. A disease-free body, quiver-free breath, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, obsession-free memory, ego that includes all, and soul which is free from sorrow are the signs of a perfect yogi. As Krishna said in the Bhagvad Gita, “Samatvam Yoga Ucyate” – equanimity in the individual is a sign of yoga.

When Art of Living programs started in the early 80s, yoga was seen as being practiced by freaks and Himalayan yogis standing upside down or on one leg. That is one of the reasons why we called our program, the Art of Living, a generic term that people could relate to across races, religions and cultures. It was Paramhansa Yogananda, and then Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought respectability to yoga in the West. In the last 3 decades, the Art of Living has taken yoga to 152 countries and has 26,000 yoga teachers worldwide.

Yogathon by The Art of Living

To promote the benefits of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and yoga for a healthier living, The Art of Living is organizing a nation-wide unique event – “Yogathon 2014.”

The Yogathon Challenge will invite people to participate to the best of their ability and complete 54 sets (108 rounds) of Surya Namaskar. It is expected to see participation of 1.5 million people across 28 states in India. Yogathon will be held in 3000 venues across India in schools, parks, colleges, stadiums, prisons, rehabilitation centers, orphanages and clubs.

Over 10,000 prisoners across 41 prisons in India will take up the Yogathon challenge.

Yogathon 2012 saw participation of around 1.25 million people.