The United Nations’ decision to observe 21 June as the International Day of Yoga is a recognition of this ancient Indian practice, which has since become global. The day will rightly put the spotlight on physical exercise, much needed in today’s world when sedentary lifestyle is becoming a leading cause of illness.
Yoga can be practiced anywhere by people of all age groups, irrespective of their socio-economic status. It fits in very well with the healthy lifestyle that WHO has been strongly advocating for, throughout the life cycle – from childhood to healthy ageing.
WHO has been advocating physical exercise as one of the primary preventive measure against non- communicable diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and respiratory diseases, which are increasingly growing in numbers. Exercise is a must for physical wellbeing.
The South-East Asia Region has a long history and rich heritage in traditional medicines and practices which contributes to health and wellness of their people. Yoga is one such traditional therapeutic system. Yoga is believed to offer means for actualization of human potential to perfection through its three-dimensional approach to health – physical, mental and spiritual.
Yoga is very much relevant even today – as it is both a physical activity and an effective way of managing stress.
We are fortunate that such traditional medical practices have survived over the centuries. Traditional medicines have played an important role, and continue to contribute to improving and maintaining the well-being of millions of people around the world.
WHO respects traditional health care practices and has been advocating for integration of best practices and good quality traditional medicines into national health systems, as appropriate.