This article was updated on June 21st, 2021.
A spiritual discipline established 5,000 years ago, Yoga is the practice of unifying mind and body. In September 2014, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, proposed the recognition of International Yoga Day. In December of that same year, the UN established June 21 as a day of celebration, receiving extraordinary support from members of the organization (175 out of 193). The practice of Yoga was recognized not only for its physical benefits but because “it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature,” said Modi in his speech. IYD also falls in a significant celebration since June 21 is also Summer Solstice.
In 2021, International Yoga Day takes place when the COVID-19 pandemic continues altering people’s lives around the world. With the theme “Yoga for well-being,” this year, the focus is on how the practice of Yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual. To access the yoga resources offered by the UN to their employees and others interested, click here. Also, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations will broadcast live an online celebration today from 8:30 to 10:00 am EST on UN WebTV.
About The Teachings
The concept behind this ancient practice is that you can heal the mind of negativity simultaneously by healing and working the body. This stems from the idea that it will be far more difficult for your mind to relax and find peace if your body feels tense. Yoga is Sanskrit for “Yoke,” meaning union.
Originating in India, monks began the practice by seeking seclusion to manifest ease of mind and a strong body. In this practice, Yoga was considered a form of meditation because it was nearly impossible to sit and meditate all day without experiencing pain or discomfort, and, therefore, came Yoga.
While Yoga is based on flow and consistency, there are movements and poses proven to be incredibly beneficial for specific ailments. For example, “Camel Pose” (in which you kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart, rest your hands on your ankles, and press the ribs and pelvis forward) is known to increase lung capacity and stimulate the adrenal, pituitary, pineal and thyroid glands.
Meanwhile, the “Half Lord of the Fishes” pose, which is focused on engaging your core through a deep twist, improves digestion by wringing out and stimulating your digestive organs. This pose also is known to alleviate back pain and unwind muscles in the lower back. For additional poses, click here.
So, a slew of poses and movements can cater to your specific needs and help ease your body and mind of discomfort. In general, Yoga benefits include:
- Increased Flexibility: We’ve all said, “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” But the whole point of Yoga is practice and improvement and can make a bettering your flexibility can have a significant impact on your everyday life. Flexible joints make movement easier and require less energy; it decreases the risk of injury and even helps increase blood and nutrient flow to the tissue. To practice your flexibility, we suggest trying out Standing Forward Fold, which stretches your lower back and hamstrings, or downward dog, which strengthens your shoulders and arms while stretching your hamstrings, calves, and Achilles’ tendons.
- Detoxification: Forget your juice cleanses and detox pills. Try out Yoga instead! Yoga can help with everything from rinsing the spine, cleansing the liver, and flushing the kidneys. We suggest poses such as Childs Pose for maximum detoxification, which aids in blood circulation, or Revolved Side Angle, which flushes oxygen-rich blood through digestive organs and removes toxins.
- Muscle Toning: Let’s be honest- one of the best things about Yoga is feeling and looking fit. For maximum muscle tone, a few poses that would be helpful include Boat Pose, which strengthens the abs and hips, or Dolphin Pose, which supports the core, arms, and legs while also opening the shoulders.
So, whether it be an at-home practice or a class with your friend, this International Yoga Day practice a workout for the mind and body, roll out your mat, clear your mind and focus on what feels good!