New York

21 June 2015

Secretary-General's Remarks on the International Day of Yoga [as delivered]

THE I am delighted to welcome all of you here today. Welcome also to those joining our celebration over in Times Square, in India and across the world via webcast -- and to those watching live on Periscope.

I also welcome Mr. Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, and Yoga guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

To all of you I say: Namaste!

This is the first year that we observe the International Day of Yoga, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.

This is a wonderful addition to the United Nations calendar.

I commend H.E. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government of India for taking this initiative to spread the practice of yoga far and wide across the world.

Of course, yoga is already immensely popular around the world.  It is good for your health.  It is good for the spirit.  And yoga does not discriminate: to varying degrees, all people can practice, regardless of their strength, age or ability.

During a visit to India earlier this year, as you have already seen, I tried my first asana – the tree pose.  I really felt like I was out on a limb!  But once I regained my balance, I began to feel a certain peace of mind.

I am hoping that if yoga promotes physical dexterity, it can also promote diplomatic dexterity. In my job as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have to be agile all of the time!

As we celebrate this new International Day of Yoga, let us recall a few words from H.E. Prime Minister Modi, who told the UN General Assembly that “Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness, with yourself, the world and nature”.

My hope is that yoga will give people everywhere the sense and the oneness we need to work together to live in harmony and usher in a life of dignity for all.

In that spirit, I say again: Namaste! Dhanyabad! I thank you!