YOGA – MORE THAN JUST A PHYSICAL EXERCISE?
Dr Reetu Verma
Yoga is Australia’s fastest-growing fitness activity, with its popularity doubling since 2008 according to the Roy Morgan Research. With over 2 million Australians participating in Yoga. (Morgan, R. 2018)
Nearly 80% of participants in Yoga are women in Australia, and there is a growing popularity especially amongst the GenY crowd. Research highlights that nearly 750,000 people (16%) of Millenials do yoga compared to 13% of GenZ, and 11% of GenX. (Morgan, R. 2016)
Modern-day yoga is primarily associated with physical exercise. However, the beginnings of Yoga can be traced back 5, 000 years ago in India, popularised by Patanjali, illustrated yoga as being a thoroughly integrated approach-one system. The combined goals of ancient yoga practice were improved health, spiritual understanding and self-realization.
International Yoga Day (IYD) was initiated by the present Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 27 September 2014 through his speech on the United Nations General Assembly with 170 countries supporting this proposal. After this, the UN General Assembly’s chairman declared International Yoga Day on June 21. This was the first time that any proposal in the United Nations General Assembly was passed in just 100 days!
Each year the IYD has a different theme with theme for 2020 appropriately being ‘Yoga at Home’ and ‘Yoga with Family’. With social distancing in place for some time, the looming threat of the second wave and many of us facing uncertainty, the United Nations website points out that:
The 21st of June is also known as Grisham Sankranthi. On this day the Sun starts to move from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, (India) it is known as the summer solstice – (longest period of daylight and shortest night of the year), while in the Southern Hemisphere, (Australia) it is the winter solstice – (shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year).
From the viewpoint of yoga, it is a period of transformation, moving from darkness to light. This is in line with the Sankranthi, meaning ‘sacred change’.
Morgan, R. (2018). Yoga participation stretches beyond Pilates & Aerobics. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from
Morgan, R. (2018). Strike a pose: Yoga is the fastest growing fitness activity. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from
United Nations, (2020) International Day of Yoga. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from