United Nations, June 21: Underscoring yoga's message of promoting harmony, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today asked citizens across nations to commit to unity regardless of ethnicity, faith, gender and sexual orientation.
"On this International Day of Yoga, I urge everyone to embrace healthier choices and lifestyles and to commit to unity with our fellow human beings, regardless of ethnicity, faith, age, gender identity or sexual orientation."
" Let us celebrate this Day and every day as members of one human family sharing one common, precious home," Ban said in his message for 2nd International Day of Yoga which is being commemorated across the world today.
Ban called for equality among humans irrespective of their nationalities and sexual orientation assumes significance in the wake of the tragic shooting last week in Orlando in which 49 people were killed and over 50 injured when 29-year old Omar Mateen opened fire in a popular gay nightclub.
The UN Chief's message for yoga day was read out by veteran Indian diplomat and currently his Special Advisor on Myanmar Vijay Nambiar during a special panel discussion organised here by India's Permanent Mission to the UN on the eve of yoga day.
Ban said that the ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice of Yoga originated in India and is now practised in various forms around the world. "Yoga balances body and soul, physical health and mental well-being.
It promotes harmony among people, and between ourselves and the natural world," he said, adding that the United Nations General Assembly had proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in recognition of its "universal appeal".
He noted the second observance of the International Day of Yoga highlights the important role healthy living plays in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last year by all 193 United Nations member states.
Ban highlighted that as an exercise, yoga has multiple benefits and can help cultivate healthier lifestyles in current times when physical inactivity is linked with a number of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
"Practising yoga can also help raise awareness of our role as consumers of the planet's resources and as individuals with a duty to respect and live in peace with our neighbours. All these elements are essential to building a sustainable future of dignity and opportunity for all," he said.
Meanwhile, renowned spiritual leader and Isha Foundation founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev said that yoga is India's gift to the world.
"We must understand that yoga is not an Indian (thing). If you want to call yoga Indian, then you must call gravity European," Sadhguru said at a panel discussion organised here yesterday by India's Permanent Mission to the UN.