International Yoga Day is celebrated annually on the 21st June and was created to spread awareness of the importance and benefits of yoga on people’s health: Physically, mentally and spiritually. The United Nations General Official who declared this day official in 2014 said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”
The date chosen on which to celebrate International Yoga Day is also of great significance, as it is Summer Solstice.
What is the history of yoga?
It is a well-known fact that yoga offers many more benefits on a deeper level than just the physical element. This may well be down to the deeper underlying goal of any yoga practice, which is to achieve enlightenment. This is why any form of yoga puts a huge emphasis on the focus of the breath and the mind.
Little is known about yoga’s earliest beginnings, but we do know that it started in India 5,000 or more years ago. It is said that India’s ancient religious texts called Sanskrit are what gave birth to both the literature and the technique of yoga. The Sanskrit word yoga has several translations and can be interpreted in many ways but essentially, it has come to describe a means of uniting, or a method of discipline.
Whilst yoga’s history is vast and complex and whether people are drawn to yoga these days for the physical element or for the mind-body connection, it is clear that this now-giant industry offers something for everyone.
What are the benefits of yoga?
It can certainly be argued that the benefits of taking part in a regular yoga practice are limitless, but let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of incorporating this practice in to your lifestyle.
- It can help improve flexibility and mobility, which in turn can help to alleviate muscle pain.
- It can help improve strength, both in what you find you can do in your training or practice and in everyday life, which can have a huge benefit on the quality of life of so many.
- It can help to improve muscle tone.
- It can help to create a sense of inner peace and calm.
- It can help to improve your memory and your productivity.
- It can be practiced pretty much anywhere, and its different levels make it accessible for anybody.
- It can have huge positive effects on your mental health, and can be great for those suffering with anxiety or depression.
- It can help to boost your immune system (something that we are all looking to achieve in the current climate).
- By doing Pranayama breathing exercise you can increase your oxygen intake up to five times… how incredible is that! If that isn’t a reason to get involved in itself then I don’t know what is.
How to celebrate
Going in to its 6th year, the theme for International yoga day couldn’t be more fitting for what we are all experiencing at the moment. Whilst last year’s theme was all about climate action, this year is centered around ‘yoga and home and yoga with the family’. What a great activity to all be able to join in with, and to take part in no matter where you are.
The beauty of this day is that there are no set activities that you need to or should be doing, no set equipment that you need, and you do not need to be of a certain age or ability to take part. The whole point of this day is to raise awareness of the benefits of yoga, and either help people celebrate it for it’s amazing qualities and what it has helped many achieve, or to promote it to those who haven’t yet started.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is commit yourself to a time that you will complete your own yoga practice on 21st June, not only as a great way to acknowledge this day, but also as a great way to relax, unwind, and take some time out. You can choose the duration of your practice, it’s intensity, and you can find a spot that feels just right for you. Be it outside, in your child’s play room (this will more than likely be my place of practice during his nap time…. providing it is tidy of course) or in your living room, it really doesn’t matter.
YouTube is a great place to go for access to free yoga workouts, I have already shared previously that Yoga with Adriene is one of my favourites. A great place to start is to think about the level you would like to practice and what you would like to achieve, for example, beginners yoga for flexibility, then simply type this in to your YouTube search and you’ll be away. There are many types of yoga, familiarising yourself with these can also be extremely helpful to ensure you get the most from your practice,
Don’t stop there.
No matter how you choose to celebrate this day, and what type of practice you choose to follow, the one recommendation I would make would be to fully follow through its intention of bringing yoga in to your lifestyle on a regular basis. This is where you will see the huge benefits and really reap the true rewards that Yoga has to offer.
I would love to hear how you are choosing to spend the day, or about your favourite yoga practises that you currently take part in.
See you on the mat!