For thousands of years, people worldwide practiced yoga for its physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Today, our love for it is reflected in an annual celebration called International Yoga Day. Observed every June 21, it aligns with the summer solstice, which symbolizes yoga's positive energy in our lives.
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Yoga originated in India as an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice. In the 69th UN General Assembly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a global celebration of yoga on June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Then, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared the International Day of Yoga on December 11, 2014, by resolution 69/131. The resolution encourages all types of organizations, even civil society, to raise awareness of the many perks of doing yoga3.
Maharishi Patanjali is often called the "father of yoga" for his life and significant contributions to the systematization and codification of yoga practices. Believed to have lived around 200 BCE, he is renowned for compiling the Yoga Sutras. It is a collection of aphorisms that explain yoga's nature, philosophy, and practice.
Today, yoga practitioners and curious individuals of all backgrounds participate in events and activities worldwide that promote yoga practice. In America alone, Statista says, there are 34.4 million yoga practitioners, almost 10% of the population.
Moreover, International Yoga Day has garnered widespread recognition. Governments of various nations officially endorse the day, recognizing the great significance of yoga in promoting physical and mental health among their citizens.
The yoga industry is also emerging with studios and stores. If you have one near you, don't hesitate to browse sustainable yoga clothes, grab some sustainable yoga props, and start a relaxing session.
Yoga's health benefits contribute to overall well-being. Through a combination of physical yoga postures, breathwork, and meditation, yoga supports various aspects of our health, both mentally and physically.
One of the most notable advantages of yoga is stress reduction1. Incorporating breathing exercises and relaxation techniques calms the nervous system, lowers stress hormones, and induces relaxation and inner peace.
Moreover, yoga helps the body enhance balance through challenging poses that promote stability and body awareness4. It also benefits pulmonary function, with various breathing exercises increasing lung capacity and promoting better respiratory health2.
There are various types of yoga, each with its unique focus and approach. Vinyasa yoga is famous for its dynamic and flowing sequences, where practitioners transition smoothly between poses, linking breath with movement.
On the other hand, Yin yoga is a slower-paced and meditative practice that involves holding seated or reclined poses for an extended period, typically three to five minutes or longer. For more meditative yoga, Anusara yoga focuses on the mind-body-heart connection.
Other popular types of yoga include Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga. The former is a foundational practice focusing on basic postures and breathing techniques. Meanwhile, the latter is a rigorous and structured style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of poses with synchronized breathing.
Some cultures may view yoga through a narrow lens, associating it solely with specific religious beliefs. To promote understanding and respect, efforts are made to educate and showcase yoga's inclusive and non-religious aspects.
Moreover, socio-economic disparities can affect access to yoga resources and classes. To overcome these barriers, organizations and communities work towards providing modified yoga practices, online resources, yoga instructors, and free classes to make yoga accessible to diverse populations.
Lastly, the World Health Organization has long been recognizing the benefits of yoga. They established a knowledge center called the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India to harness the power of yoga, acupuncture, and other practices to aid in global health.
International Yoga Day is more than just an event to do yoga – it's an opportunity to make a difference! A simple yoga session is already a great way to establish strong connections within your community.
To spread awareness for the International Day of Yoga and celebrate the comfort and versatility of yoga pants, utilize social media. Share your favorite pose online together with a yoga quote and the hashtag #InternationalDayOfYoga.
Let your love for yoga extend beyond the mat by supporting organizations that use yoga to comfort vulnerable groups and struggling communities. Hands to Heart Center and Africa Yoga Project are some organizations that use yoga for society's benefit. Your contribution, whether it's your time, knowledge, or other resources, can help these groups extend the healing benefits of yoga to those who need it the most.
International Yoga Day serves as a bright guiding light, signposting the way toward all-encompassing health and spiritual growth for people worldwide. We see this international day's soul and true essence in the spotlight on yoga's profound ability to enhance our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
It is a global event celebrated annually on June 21 to promote yoga's physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested June 21 because it is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
You can participate by attending local events, joining online yoga sessions, organizing your own yoga practice, or simply practicing yoga at home.
Pascoe, M., & Thompson, D. R. (2017). Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 152–168.
Abel, A. N., Lloyd, L. K., & Williams, J. S. (2013). The effects of regular yoga practice on pulmonary function in healthy individuals: a literature review. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 19(3), 185–190.
General Assembly resolution 69/131, International Day of Yoga, A/RES/69/131 (11 December 2014), available from https://undocs.org/A/RES/69/131.
Prado, E. T., Raso, V., Scharlach, R. C., & Kasse, C. A. (2014). Hatha yoga on body balance. International Journal of Yoga, 7(2), 133.
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