On June 21st, the first ever international day of yoga was celebrated in the nation’s capital, Windhoek. The local yoga celebration was only one of a series of events held all over the world to commemorate this ancient exercise after June 21st was declared the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations in December of last year. The day began with an educational presentation at the University of Namibia and continued in the Parliament Gardens, where over 50 supporters of yoga gathered to exercise.
The International Day of Yoga is an initiative spearheaded by the new prime minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, who was brought to office in a landslide election last year. Modi not only promised to reform India internally, but also declared his intention to enhance India’s relevance internationally. In what has been described as an attempt to remind the world of India’s heritage, the country’s delegation to the United Nations presented a resolution that would mark June 21st as a day when the ancient exercise and philosophy of yoga would be acknowledged globally. After Modi himself delivered a passionate call on the member countries in December of last year, the resolution was passed with a majority hardly observed at the international body – 177 delegations gave their yays to the proposal.
Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, clarified that yoga possesses a particular potential to spread awareness about the values that the organizations stands for. In a message delivered on the occasion of the yoga day, the Secretary General remarked that “yoga offers a simple, accessible and inclusive means to promote physical and spiritual health and well-being. It promotes respect for one’s fellow human beings and for the planet we share. And yoga does not discriminate; to varying degrees, all people can practice, regardless of their relative strength, age or ability.”
Namibia’s yoga day was organized by the High Commission of India, and UNIC Windhoek collaborated in the commemoration by attending and producing a short video clip about the day. The day began at the sunny University of Namibia campus where the High Commission opened the celebrations with a number of remarks by both Indian and Namibian officials. Subsequently, the visitors had the opportunity to watch a short movie that explained the origins of yoga and illustrated its continuing relevance in today’s stress-filled world.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the day took place in the afternoon in the Parliament Gardens where several dozen yoga-practitioners gathered to celebrate the day together. In the presence of a professional instructor, the participants began with relatively simple exercises and proceeded to more complicated postures. The entire gathering lasted about two hours and caught the eye of numerous by-standers who were eager to learn more about yoga. K. Ramalingam, the Acting High Commissioner of India, explained that even though 2015 marks the inaugural year, similar gatherings will be organized in the coming years all over the world, as well as in Windhoek. UNIC Windhoek was particularly proud to be involved in the first ever yoga day in Namibia. The video can be viewed on United Nations Information Centre Windhoek You tube channel.