Today is International Day of Yoga. Says who? The United Nations! Resolution 69/131 was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 11, 2013. As part of their global health initiatives, they acknowledged that yoga, "provides a holistic approach to health and well-being, [and] also that wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population..." Yay!
It's so appropriate that it's on the Summer Solstice, June 21; in spiritual practice this is a very auspicious time for raising the vibration of your energy body to a high level, making it easier to connect with whatever Source, Higher Power or god you may work with, or to tap into the matrix of universal oneness that abides in all. I like to call that divinity. June 21 is the most yang day of the year, meaning: active, dynamic, hothothot! It's also the longest day of the year, when the light of the sun is at it's peak. After this, it slowly decreases. A perfect day to practice such fast-paced forms of yoga as vinyasa or Ashtanga. Go for it, be safe and honor your body as it is now.
Ho hum, yawn, I fear I hear you say. That woowoo yoga stuff is for those yoga addicts, wack-job yoga teachers or the mildly insane. HALT! Yoga is for EVERYONE. And if you practice yoga, no matter how infrequently, and you have received benefit from yoga or meditation, you have a responsibility to humanity on June 21 -per the UN- to talk about that experience with at least one person who has not heard about it from you previously.
GO FORTH! I dub ye an Ambassador of Yoga.
It's true yoga is beyond mainstream now, maybe even closer to faddish burnout trend (goat yoga? beer yoga? um, what?!), but there is no denying it has helped untold millions heal from physical, mental and emotional pain and illness. And continues to do so, receiving more recognition and closer research each year by Western medicine on its ability to alleviate depression, anxiety, PTSD, arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, PMS, menopause, and asthma, among others. So spread the word! Word of mouth recommendations are powerful motivators for the hesitant.
There are often a plethora of free yoga events, usually in public spaces, to take advantage of on International Day of Yoga. Group classes in parks, public squares, and community centers, are common. A big favorite is a mass public practice of 108 Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations, aka Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, are a key sequence in many yang-type yoga styles, and 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and many other cultures' spiritual traditions. Often, local yogis, yoga studios and meditation centers will host and instruct these events for free, by donation, or low cost. Bringing the cOMmunity together to practice yoga creates an energy that, if dedicated with intention, can create positive change on an individual and global level.
Why do you think this year's theme selected by the UN is Yoga for Peace? Yoga helps people relax, heal and feel better about themselves, this creates peaceful feelings. When you're at peace, you act and interact from a place of calm mindfulness, and this affects everything and everyone around you for the better. It's like a ripple effect.
One of my teachers referred to yoga as body prayer. That's gorgeous. I think of it as body magic: an alchemical conjuring of the lifeforce to manifest radical change. Imagine hundreds of people in NYC's Times Square practicing for hours and hours, raising a whole bunch of fiery, yang-style yogic energy (tapas) while concentrating on a single intention (sankalpa), like say, world peace. Makes my crown tingle! That energy doesn't just vanish, it makes a mark, on the practitioner and on the target of the intention. Singlepointedness is no joke, yo. Try it and you will see. Your own experience is your best proof.
Practice, preach, sit, breathe; find a tribe or go solo; hold peace in your heart for all beings as you move the body, breathe the body, be still in the body. Enjoy!