India's Modi Hosts Yoga Session at UN Headquarters in New York City

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a morning yoga session on the north lawn of the United Nations (UN) in New York on Wednesday, June 21, during his first state visit to the US.

The event broke the Guinness World Record for most nationalities at a yoga session. It was held as the UN marked International Yoga Day.

“Yoga is truly universal,” he told the crowd. “When we do yoga, we feel physically fit, mentally calm, and emotionally content,” he said. "But it is not just about doing exercise on a mat. Yoga is a way of life.” Credit: Narendra Modi via Storyful

Video transcript

- His remarks, let us give him a very, very warm welcome.


MODI: Thank you. Your excellency, Csaba Korosi, President of UN General Assembly, Her Excellency, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the Union. His excellency, Eric Adams, Mayor of New York, and my dear friends from all over the world.


Namaskar. Friends on this fine morning, we are gathered here at the United Nations, at the meeting point of entire humanity in this wonderful city of New York. I know many of you have come here from far away. Most of you have woken up before sunrise and made the effort to come here. I'm delighted to see you all, and I thank you all for coming.


Friends, I'm told that almost every nationality is represented here today, and what an amazing cause to bring us all together, yoga. Yoga means "to unite." So you coming together is an expression of another form of yoga.

I remember about nine years ago right here at the UN, I had the honor to propose celebrating the International Day of Yoga on 21st June. It was wonderful to see the entire world come together to support the idea back then.

I just paid respect to the brave UN peacekeepers in 2015. I had called for a new memorial to be built at the UN in their memory. And last week, the whole world joined hands with India to make this reality soon. And the largest troop contributing nation, we are grateful to all nations for their exploration of support to this noble cause.

Last year, the entire world came together to support India's proposal to celebrate 2023 at the International Year of Millet. Millets are a superfood. They promote holistic health, and are good for the environment too. And today, it is wonderful to see the entire world come together again for yoga.

Friends, yoga come from India, and it is a very old tradition. But like all ancient Indian traditions, it is also living and dynamic. Yoga is free from copyright, free from patents, and free from Royalty payments.

Yoga is adaptable to your age, gender, and fitness level. Yoga is portable. You can do it at home, or at work, or in transit. Yoga is flexible. You can practice it alone or in a group, learn from a teacher, or be self-taught. Yoga is unifying. It is for everyone, for all ethnicities, for all faiths, and for all cultures. Yoga is truly universal.

Friends, when we do yoga, we feel physically fit, mentally calm, and emotionally content. But this is not just about doing exercise on a mat. Yoga is a way of life, a holistic approach to health and well-being. A way for mindfulness in thought and actions, a way to live in harmony with self, with others, and with nature.

I'm delighted that many of you are working on scientifically validating different aspects of yoga. Indeed, this is the way. Friends, I know you are all keen to get started. Well, so am I. I want to thank the United Nations for hosting us here today. I am grateful to the mayor and the city of New York for all their help and support in making this event a success.


And most of all, I want to thank you all once again for being here today. Let us use the power of yoga, not only to be healthy, happy, but also to be kind to ourselves and to each other. Let us use the power of yoga to build bridges of friendship, a peaceful world, and a cleaner, greener, and sustainable future.

Let us join hands together to realize the goal of one Earth, one family, one future. I conclude with a wish.


May everyone be happy. May everyone be healthy. Thank you.