Yoga changed my life in all ways that matter. The practice continues to connect me deeply to my physical body, it lends clarity to my voice and to my work in the world, and it shines a bright light on the path that I am grateful to be on. Yet, I don’t celebrate or observe International Day of Yoga.
Even as I set out to write this article, I am aware of a voice inside that is a little anxious about the backlash and the vitriol faced by anyone who criticizes the person or the political party that originally proposed this day. I have experienced it every time I write about it. But we need to address the many colors and hues of the complex story behind International Day of Yoga—especially in this moment of reckoning and humanitarian crisis that is happening in India.
India is the country of my birth, my blood, and bones. A part of my heart is with my people facing this wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with courage, resilience, and a resourcefulness that is etched in every molecule of this unique and complicated country. I honor all those who are courageously speaking truth to power and those who are afraid to speak out for very valid reasons. I stand with them. I lend them this voice.
See also: Yoga Teachers Call for Aid to India Amid COVID-19 Surge
An invaluable gift
“Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.” These are the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on June 21, 2014. A record 175 member states passed the resolution to celebrate the day as International Day of Yoga, aiming to raise the awareness of the benefits of the ancient practice for the modern world. In 2015, Mr. Modi led the largest yoga lesson in the iconic Rajpath in Delhi. Some 35,985 people practiced together, setting a new world record.