International Yoga Day was declared by the UN in 2014 at the urging of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. The first celebration was on June 21, 2015, also marking the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This was a way to unite the entire world in a practice, in a philosophy that honours global health, harmony and peace. We live in a world of disconnection, obsessed over the latest social media posts by those recognized for their celebrity status alone. A world that is struggling to provide mental health support, a constant witness to terror attacks and fear – I am grateful to Modi and the UN for believing in the light. (see more in the blog I wrote for canfitpro)
How can we best celebrate International Yoga Day? Well the obvious one I suppose – do Yoga. But ultimately, we are already practicing every day – right?! so what can we do on this one special day? I believe it should be marked around education. WHY practice Yoga? HOW can we practice Yoga? Here are my personal reasons and some hopefully easy tips to get you started or to pass along to your friends and family.
- Yoga provides clarity of mind. A regular practice be it breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation or the poses themselves bring mind and body in sync. The magic happens when all three come together at once: the pose, breath and a quiet mind.
- Yoga poses compliment all other workouts and sports. In Yoga we move our spine in all directions and are both strengthening and stretching at the same time in many poses.
- Better sleep, better posture, reduction in pain (physical and emotional), increased joint mobility, cardiovascular benefits (stronger heart and reduced blood pressure), increased lung capacity (great for runners), increased muscle strength, improved sex life, boosts your immunity, improved balance, balances your nervous system, is that enough….
HOW can I practice Yoga? As Yoga gains in popularity so does the ability to practice.
- In person: almost all fitness clubs have Yoga classes as part of the membership, Yoga studios offer drop in classes, Passport to Prana allows you to try as many studios as you can in a year for $30 until you find the right one.
- Online: many teachers have posted free videos on YouTube, there are also subscription based programs such as YogaGlo.com, Gaiam or myyogaonline.com that allow you to practice with top-notch teachers at your own time, pace and skill level. (check out my dear friend Felicia Tomasko on YogaGlo for some amazing restorative and Yin based classes!)
- Read Blogs – obviously 🙂 … but check out this article I wrote: A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga.
- Read a Book: You can pretty much find a Yoga book for every style and practice that exists. I’m currently reading Light on Life, by B.K.S. Iyengar and am mesmerized by every word. This book doesn’t teach you about the physical aspects of the poses, but seems to explain in the perfect way the spiritual connection that can be experienced on the mat when we find that perfect balance between attention and surrender. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this to come..