Happy International Day of Yoga! Here’s a Collection of 15 Fascinating Vintage Photos of People Doing Yoga From the Past

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The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on June 21 since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2014.

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice which originated in India. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his UN address suggested the date of June 21, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world. He stated:

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

Following this initial proposal, the UNGA held informal consultations on the draft resolution, entitled “International Day of Yoga”, on October 14, 2014. The consultations were convened by the delegation of India.

In 2015 Reserve Bank of India issued a 10 rupees commemorative coin to mark the International Day of Yoga. The first International Day of Yoga created a record for the largest yoga class, and another for the largest number of participating nationalities.

As these incredible images illustrate, yoga has been popular since the early 20th century:

Two ladies practice yoga at La Garoupe Beach in Antibes, France, 1926.

Actress Athene Seyler attempts to contort her body, in a scene from the show “Skin Deep”, ca. 1928. (Sasha/Getty Images).

Enrica “Ricki” Soma grew up in Manhattan as the daughter of Italian immigrants. She became famous as an actress and ballet dancer in the USA, and later married director John Huston. In Soma’s youth, yoga was practiced regularly by her entire family. In this shot, she bends back while father Tony Soma and her siblings train positions like the lotus position, ca. 1930s. (The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Yoga became the epitome of physical fitness in Europe and the USA in the 1930s. However, such exercises were far from the yoga traditions in India. Here’s a model named Vera Richardson to admire during a gym class, 1938. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

James Hay-Kellie demonstrating yoga positions, ca. 1940. (Tunbridge-Sedgwick Pictorial Press/Getty Images).

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