The ancient practice of yoga is now listed as one of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. In 2014, UNESCO’s committee for safeguarding listed practices voted unanimously for India’s proposal to add yoga. Yoga is now OFFICIALLY an international heritage and treasure…as if yogi’s really needed an official notice.
So what does this mean?
The main reason for creating the list is to highlight cultural contributions and heritages present around the world. By creating this list, UNESCO is essentially fostering understanding between cultures, highlighting the great contributions they have made to societies and cultural progress.
As quoted from the UNESCO website:
“Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world.”
Essentially, this list is a means to preserve cultural practices. UNESCO is not only highlighting yoga as a cultural contribution to the world, but it’s also creating a means to safeguard the practice from cultural elimination. Apparently, UNESCO may offer technical or financial support to communities who may be struggling to protect such ancient practices. This is still something to be seen happen or confirmed by UNESCO.
Ultimately, the addition to yoga to UNESCO’s list of cultural contributions helps us further the use of its traditions not only for physical exercise, but for overall health and healing. It also gives yogis an even better response when asked, why yoga?
For a complete 2016 additions to the list of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, click here.