UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged everyone to embrace healthier choices and lifestyles and commit to unity living with others regardless of ethnicity, faith, age, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Ban made this call in his message to mark the second International Day of Yoga.

"Practicing yoga can also help raise awareness of our role as consumers of the planet's resources and as individuals with a duty to respect and live in peace with our neighbours.

``All these elements are essential to building a sustainable future of dignity and opportunity for all.

``This year's observance of the International Day highlights the important role healthy living plays in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN member states.

``Physical inactivity is linked with a number of non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which are among the leading causes of illness and death worldwide,’’ he said.

Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India and is now practiced in various forms around the world.

The word 'yoga' derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness.

It will be recalled that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2015 dedicating 21 June to the practice of yoga to enhance healthy society.