Celebrated on June 21, International Yoga Day celebrates the physical and spiritual prowess that yoga has brought to the world stage. While it is an important source of exercise and healthy activity millions join in and practice on a daily basis. For many, these routines are a way to connect the body, mind and soul in a way that has existed for centuries.

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. It is not just a physical practice, but also a mental one, with many of the teachings of yoga reflecting mental and spiritual states, and allowing your body to wadner and draft into unknown realms that will give you a focus in your life and a calmness with your soul.

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 the 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.

Yoga is practiced all over the world and there is evidence of this as yoga continues to inspire and take over the world! Yoga classes are becoming more and more prevalent in our society today and there is a bigger demand than ever before. Yes, yoga has been well marketed you may say, it is an ancient practice that has stood the test of time but you do not need to be a yogi ninja to really be able to appreciate the beauty and benefits of the tradition. 

In fact, starting off slow and simple is going to be the best way to learn the rudiments as well as really being able to appreciate what it’s about. Lots of instructors begin at a low level, ensuring that everyone is able to keep up, feel the power and start to feel the benefits. So, what are the benefits you may ask?

What are the benefits of yoga? 

Let’s assess. There are plenty of things to rave about when it comes to Yoga, most likely there is a day dedicated entirely to it! Tame your body and give it the inner peace that it deserves. Yoga can improve flexibility, which doesn’t mean you’ll be able to go off and impress your friends with the splits after an hour, but it does mean that you may start to notice muscular improvements over time. Tone up and strengthen your muscles, yoga is famous for this, it works on core strength as well as assisting your muscles with vitality and can also promote a healthier metabolism. 

What else, you ask? Well, it may not be a cardio activity but it does have cardio and circulatory benefits, which is a big bonus. Any type of exercise, even gentle, gets the heart rate up which is what we want! This can aid with diets, and help protect you from injury. Strength as at the core of yoga, and so what else could we possibly want out of an activity? Add a little holistic music to your yoga, it will help the mind also. Yoga can be practiced inside or outside; but it is preferable outside, to allow yourself to feel the power of nature and the sun.

Are you on the yoga bandwagon yet? You should be, but let’s take things slow, one day at a time, afterall, that is why International Yoga Day was created isn’t it? 😉 

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! You can still enjoy yoga without having to do the splits whilst balancing on your head!

As we already mentioned, yoga uses slow, fluid movements, and so, very few people suffer any kind of injuries practicing yoga. 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? We think you should be. The first step is buy a yoga mat, there are plenty to grab, as well as some comfortable and easy clothing that will allow for all the stretches, and you’re one step closer to being a pro! 

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.

History of International Yoga Day

For International Yoga Day, people around the world are all set to take out their yoga mats and start exercising, but they might not be aware that yoga goes back centuries.
Yoga is considered to be an ancient practice that originated 5,000 years ago in India. Yoga was developed as a way to interconnect the mind, body and soul to step closer into enlightenment. As the practice became popular in the west, it became popularized as an exercise and relaxation method, with claims to help the body’s general well-being, alleviate physical injuries and chronic pain.

The idea of International Yoga Day was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 27, 2014, during his speech at the UN General Assembly, where a resolution to establish June 21 as International Yoga Day was introduced by India’s Ambassador, Asoke Kumar Mukerji.

The date of June 21 was chosen as it is the Summer Solstice, the day where there is the most sun out of every other day of the year. Overall, it received support from 177 nations, the highest number of co-sponsors for any UN resolution, proclaiming June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

On June 21, 2015, nearly 36,000 people, including Prime Minister Modi, and many other high-profile political figures from all around the world, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes in New Delhi in what was the first International Yoga Day, and the day has been celebrated around the globe ever since.

International Yoga Day timeline

June 21, 2018

Yoga for All

The largest yoga lesson takes place in India, with over 100,000 participants

June 21, 2015

First Ever

Over 36,000 celebrate the first ever Yoga Day in India.

September 27,  2014

India proposes

Narendra Modi and the Indian delegation propose to create International Yoga Day

200 BCE

Beginnings

The earliest reports for the existence of Yoga are determined to be around this era.

International Yoga Day FAQs

How can I begin to practice yoga?

There is no wrong way to begin. You can search up for yoga studios or local gyms who offer yoga lessons, or you can practice at home with video tutorials and some relaxing music.

What does Om mean?

Om is said to be an interpretation of the sound of the universe. It is a way to seal in the lessons of the yoga class, but it’s not mandatory.

What kind of equipment do I need to practice yoga?

The most important equipment are flexible athletic clothing and a yoga mat. The latter is not necessary and you can borrow the ones from your fitness center if you’re taking it slow; it also helps to find out which kind of mat — thick or thin — you enjoy more.

5 Yoga Facts

  1. Lots of Americans practice yoga

    About 36 million Americans claim to do yoga regularly, around 10% of the population

  2. One for everyone

    There are more than a hundred styles of yoga.

  3. A social media hit

    At any given time, 60 million posts are trending on Instagram.

  4. The Yoga mat was invented in 1982

    Angela Farmer used carpet underlay to create a comfortable, slip-free surface.

  5. It is inspirational

    Stemming from her experiences with yoga, Elizabeth Gilbert was inspired to write the best-seller “Eat Pray Love”

International Yoga Day Activities

  1. Bring Your Tree Pose to Nature

    Practicing outside can breathe some fresh air into your yoga poses. Practice on the beach, at your local park, or even in your backyard. Surrounding yourself in a new environment can be much more engaging by having new things to focus on.

  2. Do your "om" thing

    Create your own flow of movements and discover new combinations to your favorite music. Sometimes a change in movement or music can help you focus your energy and sync your breathing perfectly to musical transitions.

  3. Introduce a friend to the yogi lifestyle

    Bringing a friend can be just the right motivation you need to revamp your practice. Not only will their presence inspire you to strengthen your poses, but also they can score big on free yoga deals for new students. Win win.

Why We Love International Yoga Day

  1. It’s inclusive

    People of all age groups, religions, nationalities and social backgrounds can celebrate, because yoga is accessible to all! There are so many different kinds of yoga practices, so it's possible for anyone to start. Size and fitness levels don't matter — there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style.

  2. Yoga helps you manage stress

    Life can be stressful sometimes, and it can take its toll on our physical bodies. Have back or neck pain, sleeping problems and headaches? Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity, calmness, and relieves chronic stress — which means it'll help you with all of the above.

  3. Practicing yoga is healthy

    This is no surprise, but it bears repeating. Yoga strengthens and stabilizes the spine, relieving back pain, stress, anxiety and tension. It helps with weight reduction, maintaining a balanced metabolism and increases flexibility. And these are only some of its host of benefits.

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