New Delhi: Stressing the importance of good health, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said Yoga is a science that helps improve the fitness level as well as the overall health profile. "A good deal of discussion has been held in many places on defining yoga. Is it a science, an art, an aid to meditation, a spiritual path or a religion? Different interlocutors would give different answers, each valid to an extent and none universally endorsed," he said while inaugurating a two-day international conference on 'Yoga for Body and Beyond' here. The Vice President also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for getting Yoga recognised at the United Nations. "The decision to observe June 21 as the International Yoga Day was taken on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commendable initiative by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014. Its Resolution 69/131 was sponsored by 177 member states and was adopted without a vote," he said, adding that the UN observes a total of 128 similar days on different themes. Ansari, explaining how diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart related medical problems were causing a loss of millions of rupees in India and in the world, said there was a stark relationship between poverty and ill health. "Poverty creates ill health because it forces people to live in environment that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation," he said. Ansari said the importance of good health and sanitation was well understood by the leaders of our freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi had observed "health is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver". Gandhi on many occasions had written and spoken about the economic impact of insanitation, the vice president recalled. All systems of faith or belief have within them the practice of meditation. The Indian experience is a particularly good instance of this given the rich interaction that took place over centuries in the areas of belief, consciousness and practice, he said. "Thus, we find Yoga and meditation in Jain and Buddhist practices; similarly, great importance is attached to meditation in Christianity, Islam and Sikhism." "The convergence or parallelisms are striking even if rituals or modalities of enunciation may vary. They all depend on sounds or expressions that evoke appropriate responses from the practitioner based on his or her spiritual background," Ansari said. Last year, on the occasion of the first International Yoga Day, Asari was criticised by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav for his absence at the Yoga Day celebrations on Rajpath. Later, Madhav had apologised saying that he didn't know that the vice president was unwell, but an official statement from Ansari's office clarified that "Vice President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme". AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, whose ministry organised the event, had also clarified that when Prime Minister is chief guest at a programme, the President or Vice President cannot be invited as per protocol as the two are above the prime minister in order of precedence.