Secretary-General's Message

During a visit to India this year, I had the opportunity to practice yoga with one of my senior advisors. Although he happened to be a son of the country, I might equally have done the same with many other colleagues from different parts of the world. Yoga is an ancient discipline from a traditional setting that has grown in popularity to be enjoyed by practitioners in every region. By proclaiming 21 June as the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has recognized the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations.

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.

I discovered this for myself on trying to do my first asana, a tree pose suited to beginners. It took a moment for me to gain my balance but once I did, I appreciated the simple sense of satisfaction that yoga can bring.

On this first-ever International Day of Yoga, let us see the benefits of this practice in terms of individual well-being as well as our collective efforts to improve public health, promote peaceful relations and usher in a life of dignity for all.

Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets a yoga lesson from Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Myanmar. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon observes a yoga class for pregnant mothers at a local health centre in Bali, Indonesia. UN Photo/Mark Garten