NEW DELHI, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Three years since its inception, the International Yoga Day has become all the rage across the world.
Observed on June 21, which is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, this day celebrates the importance of yoga -- both spiritual and physical -- in our day-to-day lives.
India has been the pioneer in introducing yoga to the world. It was spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda who opened up the then America to the wonders of the practice of yoga. At his famous and first speech in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda endeared the masses through his lectures on meditation and how it can be used to come closer to God.
Within India, however, the popularity of yoga has experienced a decline due to the growth of different youth cultures and forms of exercises. This detachment was felt by government leaders and practitioners of yoga alike.
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2014, the urgent need to take India's ancient tradition to its youth and those across the world was underlined.
"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," he said.
The United Nations declared June 21 as the International Yoga Day, which has further helped to spread the benefits of yoga to the world. At the governance level in India also, promoting yoga has become one of the top-most priorities of the present-day government along with the likes of initiatives such as Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign.
Yoga is adapted by different people differently, but many are waking up to its healing and helping powers.
"I have a hectic corporate job but since I started yoga two years back, life has become simpler. No matter how my day is, I don't skip my daily yoga now," said Avidek Singh, a technologist based in Delhi.
Woman have gained from yoga too.
"I had a painful delivery two years back when my son was born. I took up yoga after his birth. It not only helped me get back on my feet quickly but also healed me mentally," said Nisitha Kumar, a homemaker.
With modernizing times, yoga has been designed to suit the needs of the practitioners and not only relax the body but strengthen the immune system and improve concentration with its simple postures.
"We learnt about yoga in school. In 2015, it was made compulsory and since then I have been actively participating in all yoga events across my state. It has not only made me healthy but disciplined," said Class XII student Saksham Rajput, who studies at a government school.
Three years since yoga went international, technology has also played its part in popularizing the practice among the new generations, like working people who have little time to practice it in an open space.
Mobile apps like YogaGlo, Asana Rebel, FitStar Yoga, the Calm and Breathe app are some of the recent digital initiatives that not only serve as yoga guides to users but come loaded with tech to track user's fitness.
While many believe that the International Yoga Day has increased the value of Brand India, the individual harmony and health it promotes cannot be overlooked.
The massive participation by people across the world on yoga day events has had a positive impact on how India is viewed by other countries. The buzz and enthusiasm generated has led people to not view yoga with any religion but simply with wellness.