International Day of Yoga 2015: “Actualizing the Infinite Potentials Within Us All”


  International Day of Yoga in London

International Day of Yoga participants in London, England, listen to a presentation given by members of the SRF London Center.

July 16, 2015

On Sunday, June 21, people around the world gathered to celebrate the United Nations’ first ever International Day of Yoga. The result was widely acknowledged as the largest number of people engaged in yoga at one time in recorded history.  

Directly or indirectly, much of the present world interest in yoga is a consequence of the teachings Paramahansa Yogananda brought from India to America ninety-five years ago. Widely regarded as “the father of yoga in the West,” Paramahansaji was the first to make available on a mass scale teachings that contain a system of scientific pranayama (life force control) techniques. Yoga’s ultimate goal is the realization of oneself as an omniscient, omnipresent soul. Yogananda’s program — detailed in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons — provides a pragmatic approach to this underlying basis of religion. And it is a system that continues to appeal to ever-greater numbers of people: those interested not only in the physical benefits of Hatha Yoga, but those interested in developing their mental abilities and, most of all, their spiritual selves.

SRF Rome Meditation Group  

The SRF Rome Meditation Group hosted a public event, at which the ambassador of India to Italy, Sri Basant K. Gupta (above right), spoke on the significance of the first International Day of Yoga.


An article entitled Steve Jobs's Secret to Greatness: Yogananda,” written by Hitendra Wadhwa, professor of professional practice at Columbia Business School, and featured in an online edition of the business publication Inc. magazine, reflects this broadening influence of yoga. The article traces the influence of Yogananda’s message on the world, and upon the late business visionary and co-founder of Apple Computer:

“Since Yogananda's passing in 1952, many teachers have followed his trailblazing path to bring yoga to our world, helping make it a fixture in popular culture as it continues to take hold with young and old, the elite and the ordinary, the spiritualists and the atheists. What distinguishes Yogananda from these subsequent emissaries is not simply that he paved the way for the modern yoga movement, but that from the outset he focused far beyond physical exercises and shone a powerful and practical torchlight on the path to yoga's true purpose: actualizing the infinite potentials within us all. Perhaps that is why his Autobiography of a Yogi was the only book Jobs downloaded on his iPad—and, after first encountering the book as a teenager, went back and reread once every year.

”On this first International Yoga Day, let's tip our hats to the teacher who first introduced the modern world to the transformative power of yoga as a timeless inner discipline, and who was such a silent force in the life of the greatest entrepreneur of our times.”

Around the world — from London, England to Lima, Peru; from Recife, Brazil to Dubai, United Arab Emirates — SRF temples, centers, and meditation groups joined in events connected with the International Day of Yoga.


Event organized by CounterPoint Films

In Los Angeles, home to the international headquarters of Paramahansaji’s worldwide work, a special screening of the documentary film AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda was presented to an enthusiastic audience at a well-known interfaith cultural center, the Pico Union Project in downtown LA, on the eve of the International Day of Yoga (right).

The event, organized by CounterPoint Films (the makers of AWAKE), was opened by SRF monk Brother Vishwananda speaking on Paramahansa Yogananda’s legacy; filmmakers Paola di Florio, Lisa Leeman, and Peter Rader commenting on the success of the film in theaters across the U.S. and Canada; and SRF monks leading a program of devotional chanting and meditation.

The film was billed by the Pico Union Project organizers as “a must-see for all who are interested in the life of the legendary yogi, and for those celebrating the International Day of Yoga! A movie The New York Times labelled as ‘Compelling…enough to make a modern soul look inwards.’”

Learn more about AWAKE: the Life of Yogananda and upcoming international screenings.

For other SRF events related to the 2015 International Day of Yoga, see Paramahansa Yogananda Honored by Indian High Officials as Train Renamed the “Kriya Yoga Express”

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