People have different ways of relaxing, some of them healthier than others. Some people drink a glass of wine, some doze off in front of the TV, and some people prefer physical pursuits. One of the best and oldest ways to release the tension building up in both the body and the mind is practicing yoga. The benefits of practicing yoga, such as mastering countless techniques of controlling the body and the mind, have been widely recognized by the Western world for years, and International Yoga Day aims to continue to inform people how much dedicating a bit of time to the art of yoga can improve their lives.
The History of International Yoga Day
Yoga itself is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India about 6,000 years ago. Throughout the ages, yoga evolved and developed, along the way becoming a philosophy in itself. Then, in the 19th century, yoga came to attention of the West, which had begun to take a general interest in Eastern culture and philosophy. Soon after, Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and explain yoga to a western audience, toured Europe and the United States.
The United Nations General Assembly declared International Yoga Day official on December 11th, 2014. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, had this to say about the decision to create this day:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; 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, June 21st, is also of great significance, as it is Summer Solstice and marks the transition to Dakshinayana. So far, more than 170 countries worldwide have shown their support for this day.
How to Celebrate International Yoga Day
Even if you have never tried yoga in your life, that doesn’t mean that you should not be celebrating this day. Yoga has helped and continues to help millions of people all over the world achieve inner peace and improve their physical condition, regardless of age or gender, so it is practically guaranteed that it would have a positive impact on your life as well. And even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly fit person—don’t worry! Due to its slow, fluid movements, few people suffer any kind of injuries practicing yoga, and many of the meditation techniques, breathing exercises, and certain postures are considered safe and beneficial even for those suffering various illnesses as well as pregnant women. Just make sure you don’t attempt a headstand the first time you decide to give yoga a try! If you feel inclined to attend an International Yoga Day event, there are many organized in cities the world over to choose from, including Austin, Texas, Hong Kong, London, Seoul, and many others. So are you ready to do your body and mind a favor? Take advantage of the chance this coming International Day presents and learn something you will be able to benefit from for years and years to come.