Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.17

The Committee

  1. Takes note that India has nominated Yoga (No. 01163) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The philosophy behind the ancient practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how society functions in India, whether it be in relation to areas such as health and medicine or education and the arts. 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. Traditionally, yoga was transmitted using the Guru-Shishya model (master-pupil) with yoga gurus as the main custodians of associated knowledge and skills. Nowadays, yoga ashrams or hermitages provide enthusiasts with additional opportunities to learn about the traditional practice, as well as schools, universities, community centres and social media. Ancient manuscripts and scriptures are also used in the teaching and practice of yoga, and a vast range of modern literature on the subject is available.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Yoga is deeply embedded in Indian culture, history and society and considered a symbol of Indian cultural identity. Its bearers comprise a wide spectrum of individuals, general public groups, members of communities, educational institutions and any others interested without any restrictions of gender, age, nationality, class or religious dispositions. Centred on the overall unity of body and mind, it is transmitted from master to disciple or through yoga schools, books and the media and can be practised by anyone regardless of gender, age or social status. The element is compatible with human rights and fosters tolerance and mutual respect;

R.2    Inscription of Yoga on the Representative List will refocus attention towards the inherent, significant and systematic knowledge systems associated with Yoga. It will encourage dialogue among individuals, groups and communities at the local, national and international levels and will thus contribute to increasing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. Additionally, the inscription will promote respect for diversity and human creativity as Yoga is practised by all irrespective of gender, caste, age, status, nationality, colour and creed;

R.3:   The viability of the element has been mostly ensured by its bearers, with support from the State (such as providing assistance to yoga institutions and universities for their research and publications). The file introduces proposed safeguarding measures, which include clinical research activities and the inclusion of yoga in schools and other educational establishments, documentation, digitization and publications. Safeguarding measures reflect the involvement, combined efforts and commitments of yoga communities, practitioners, groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals that are affiliated with various autonomous bodies, under the supervision of a government ministry dedicated to traditional medical practices;

R.4:   At both informal and formal levels, stakeholders participated actively in preparing and elaborating the nomination. Evidence has been provided as to the free, prior and informed consent to the nomination of the element from members of the communities concerned.

R.5:   Yoga is inventoried by several institutions in India, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi which maintains the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions, with the participation and consent of practitioners and stakeholders. The Sangeet Natak Akademi also regularly updates the National Inventory.

  1. Inscribes Yoga on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegation of India for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criteria R.2 and R.5.