Yoga added to UNESCO'S cultural heritage list

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and it is still growing in popularity (Getty)
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and it is still growing in popularity (Getty)

The ancient Indian mind-body discipline of yoga is the newest addition to UNESCO'S lit of intangible world heritage.

The world heritage committee added yoga in recognition of its influence on Indian society.

Peter Nilsson, founder and director of the Auckland Yoga Academy, has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, and Mr Nilsson says it is still incredibly popular.

"There's an extraordinary amount of people now doing yoga. It's gone mainstream," he told Newshub this morning.

"It's an exercise that meets the physical needs of the body, both male and female. Bu it also teaches you how to quiet the mind, and in modern times this is very important."

UNESCO tweeted a video announcing the news on Friday (NZ time), saying: "The philosophy behind the ancient Indian practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how India's society functions, from health and medicine to education and the arts."

"Designed to help individuals build self-realisation, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation, [yoga] is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion."

Yoga is the 13th intangible cultural heritage to be listed from India so far, according to The New Indian Express. The others include the Chhau dance and the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh.

UNESCO began compiling a list for cultural and natural world heritage in 1972. It now includes 814 cultural and 203 natural sites, and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities.