International Yoga Day
Participants take part in a mass yoga event on the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, June 17, 2018 in celebration of the upcoming International Yoga Day to be held on June 21. Getty Images/ FRANCOIS GUILLOT

Thursday, June 21, marks the 4th International Yoga Day, and the theme for this year is “Yoga for peace.”

The suggestion that June 21 be celebrated as International Yoga Day was first put forward by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. After much deliberations, the United Nations agreed to officially designate the day.

Since then, Modi has led by example when it comes to promoting yoga. This year, he led the celebrations by practising yoga with 50,000 people at Dehradun’s Forest Research Institute, Financial Express reported.

Here are a few facts you might not know about yoga:

1. Yoga can actually add more years to your life span. While it might be hard to believe, it is a fact that religiously practicing yoga is extremely beneficial for your heart and lungs as it causes the organs to rhythmically expand and contract, helping them remain in a healthy condition, India Today reported.

2. The age old practice can also the help enhance your mood as it is all about regulating breathing patterns as you change from one posture to the next. Staying in control of your breathing patterns saves you from erratic mood swings.

3. People in some parts of the world also practice nude yoga, wherein they do not wear clothes while practicing the ancient art. The idea behind practicing nude yogasans is to promote body positive image. It also deepens the experience of doing yoga and establish social connections with people of the yoga community.

4. Then there is a yoga for dogs, which is known as Doga. Doga was started by Suzi Teitelman in New York in the year 2002 – an art which lets dog-owners secure a bond of friendship with their beloved pets.

5. Lord Shiva is considered to be the supreme lord of yoga, according to Hindu mythology.

6. Contrary to the popular belief, Asana is not yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi are the eight branches of yoga. "Asana" refers to just the third branch of yoga, which signifies the postures.

7. Eighty six percent of American yoga practitioners stated after doing the exercises regularly they have gained a strong sense of mental clarity, while 73 percent said they became physically stronger, and 79 percent were giving back to their communities, according to Yoga Journal.

8. Listening to the needs of your body is very important during yoga and so is not overstressing. After every 30 minutes of practicing yoga, five minutes of rest must be allowed for the body. At the same time, poses must be modified according to your own physical conditions. People who suffer from arthritis can relieve their pain by doing yoga and it can also keep your joints healthy.

9. Muslims in Malaysia are banned from practicing yoga as the Islamic community there believe it does not go with the beliefs of their culture.

10. The foremost among the modern yoga teachers in the world was B.K.S. Iyengar. “Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul to create the symphony of life,” Iyengar had said.