Mark your calendars for the sixth annual International Yoga Day! This relatively new holiday, established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly in 177 member countries, celebrates the value of yoga for physical, emotional, and mental health. In 2021, June 21st is also the solstice - the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere and the shortest in the Southern hemisphere. This day is a turning point for the entire planet and a sacred day in many cultures. Perfect to celebrate yoga!
Each International Yoga Day features a different theme. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, the chosen theme for 2021 is Yoga for Wellbeing, stressing the benefits of yoga for stress relief and overall mental health. The emphasis on mindful movement and deliberate breathing patterns in yoga benefits not just your physical body, but enhances mood, relieves stress, alleviates insomnia, and aids in managing situational depression. Even if your intention is centered on increasing physical strength, mobility, and balance, you garner the mental benefits too.
Our lives are forever changed after this past year. It’s a simple fact. Many of us experienced enormous levels of anxiety, stress, fear, loss, and anger. When we react from these emotions, our breathing becomes shallow, our heart works overtime, and the stress hormone cortisol skyrockets. When our physiological system is out of control, it’s tough to remain grounded, clear, and balanced. Yoga helps positively impact our nervous systems, which in turn helps us step out of the fight or flight response. We can stop simply reacting and start operating from a more stable place.
This week, focus toward on the mental health benefits of your practice. Feeling good in your body is the first step to feeling happy in your mind. When you step onto the mat and set your intention for the day, choose to direct it toward finding that intangible feeling of freedom and softness and strength within. Remind yourself that your breathing patterns are a tool. Your physical movement is a tool. Your gaze, intention, and thoughts are powerful tools for living in the present moment. Yoga works.
Yoga Sutra 2:46 Sthira Sukham Asanam translates to the posture should be stable and comfortable, a balance of effort and ease. When we find that balance in a physical pose, we find the corresponding mental state as well. This week, we celebrate International Yoga Day by featuring some traditional breathing practices, a yoga philosophy talk, and some feel-good asana practices. Enjoy these classes and feel healthier inside and out.
1. Pradeep Teotia - Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing
2. Bhavani Maki - Introduction to the Patanjali Yoga Sutra
3. Mark Morford - Surya Devotion Flow
4. Jack Cuneo - Asthanga Modified Primary Series
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