International Yoga Day

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It has certainly been an exciting few months since it was declared by the General Assembly of the United Nations that the 21st of June had been adopted as International Yoga Day, after 175 countries supported the proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modhi.

Prime Minister Modhi’s dream and determination to mark this auspicious day – the summer solstice and the longest day of the year – as the start of an annual International Yoga Day, is not only a remarkable achievement, it is indeed a fitting tribute to the timeless legacy of yoga.

Speaking about International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Modhi confirmed, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.”

More and more scientific studies are backing up what we yogis and yoginis already know – practising yoga, meditation and pranayama exercises provide a myriad of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits. But yoga is more than just about what asanas we can do on the mat. As Prime Minister Modhi said, “It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

“The original ‘Yoga’ only referred to a handful of styles, but over the centuries well known schools have taken the techniques further by combining and modifying them according to the objectives of their teachers.”

Practising yoga is also living by its principles and ethics such as non- violence and commitment to truthfulness – universal moralities that we carry out day-to-day in our thoughts and actions. The inspirational aspect about International Yoga Day is that the support of the 175 nations from Canada to China is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature. It offers a promise of a better future where politics and spirituality can work hand in hand to unite people through the practice of yoga and its potential to create inner peace, and to become more conscious, loving and understanding of ourselves, our neighbours and our planet. And who knows what the energetic effect that millions of people practising yoga, meditating, breathing and chanting in unison on the same day can have? It could have a profound outcome and create a new universal consciousness that unites us and brings about change and ultimately world peace. But even if International Yoga Day changes just the life of one person, the famous quote by the Italian poet Dante springs to mind, “From a little spark may burst a flame” – flames which may burn in the future as did the flames of Patanjali, the forefather of yoga, to Sivananda who wrote over 200 books on yoga, to Swami Vivekananda who brought yoga to the West in 1893, and other gurus to numerous to mention, but include Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar and Yogi Bhajan who further promoted the benefits of this ancient discipline that began in India over 5,00 years ago.

Since its humble origins deep in the Indian subcontinent, yoga has continually been modified and rejuvenated. Yoga has been embraced by people of all ages and dispositions, especially in the west with over 20 million people practising in America according to a study in 2012. Today there is an abundance of styles (and schools) to suit every culture. Some contemporary styles borrow heavily from classical Yoga (Patanjali, Kundalini, and Jnana), others from tantra traditions. Some have fused the subject with other forms of health and fitness including Boxing yoga and SUP yoga (Stand-Up Paddleboards), others with related spiritual traditions. Other styles have been designed for individuals who want to improve their physical appearance such as Face yoga and general health and wellbeing such as Scaravelli yoga and Bikram yoga.

The original ‘Yoga’ only referred to a handful of styles, but over the centuries well known schools have taken the techniques further by combining and modifying them according to the objectives of their teachers. Yoga can be compared to cooking a curry. From one basic recipe you can create hundreds of dishes by varying the temperature, adding different spices, creating infusions of differing herbs – the end result is still a curry, but with its own unique name and flavour. Today there seems to me more and more yoga hybrids available, where you can work up a sweat with styles that combine music such as Rave yoga and Voga, lose your inhibitions with Naked yoga or practise Doga with your canine companion.

International yoga dayWhatever style of yoga you practise, we understand that not every regular practitioner is on a spiritual quest. But if International Yoga Day gets people across the world who may have not practised yoga before to bend, stretch and move their bodies like they naturally should be doing, then this will be another remarkable achievement in this age of inactivity that is caused by the distractions of social media and technology and living a sedentary lifestyle due to more of us sat working at a computer all day. And again, even if it just changes a few people to become more conscious and active of their bodies and lifestyles, then they could go on to become future yoga teachers and inspire and change the lives of generations to come. After all, hasn’t every yoga teacher and Swami once been a student and attempted their first asana?

So on International Yoga Day, whether you’ll be taking part in a yoga studio or practising barefoot on a beach somewhere, or whether you’re on the road to spiritual enlightenment or simply practising to keep fit – take a moment to honour the power of yoga. Give blessings to yourself and every living thing on this planet. Honour your teacher and the teachers and Swamis before them for keeping this ancient technique alive. Rejoice in being part of this unique day and try to tune into the universal energy from millions of people simultaneously practising around the world. And most importantly have fun!

To celebrate this ground-breaking day, YOGA Magazine is proud to be the co-sponsor of two-day event taking place on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June at Harrow Leisure Centre from 11am – 5pm. We wish to invite all our readers, their friends and families to join us in the festivities. The event will be packed with yoga classes, workshops and lectures. Everyone is welcome and we hope that you will come and support us on making this a truly special day and show our confidence in what is such a significant first event of its kind.

Teachers wishing to hold classes or lectures please email a short bio and contact details to [email protected] or [email protected]

Exhibitors please contact Reena on 07585009958 or email [email protected].

You can also download our Media Pack for more info and floor plan by clicking here – International Yoga Day Media Pack

How to get to Harrow Leisure Centre:

Christchurch Avenue, Harrow HA3 5BD

Nearest Tube / Rail Station

Harrow & Wealdstone Underground and National Rail Station.

We hope to see you there – but for those who can’t make it, we are also collaborating with yoga studios across the UK to participate in a live yoga class on the day.