I must confess that in all the years that I’ve practiced yoga, this year will be the first time I am actually aware of International Yoga Day. First observed in 2015, the International Yoga Day is celebrated each year on the 21st of June by yogis all over the world. Come Wednesday, 21st June, I’ll be on my mat early in the morning, practicing 108 Sun Salutations to commemorate the day.
But sun salutations aren’t all you can do on yoga day. After all, yoga isn’t just about asanas. Whether you’re a yoga novice or a yoga teacher; beginner, intermediate or advanced; there are plenty of things that you can do in tribute to yoga day.
A large part of yoga is its principle of ahimsa, which means non-violence. Yoga believes in not inflicting violence or harm against anything, be it the environment, animals, fellow human beings, and most importantly, yourself. One of the ways in which you can put this principle into practice is to eliminate meat from your day-to-day diet.
This International Yoga Day, try going vegan! Eliminate dairy, eggs and meat from your meals and instead replace them with vegetables, fruits and nuts. A vegan diet doesn’t have to be dull and uninspiring. Many vegan recipesoffer exciting meals with clever use of spices and herbs! Try being vegan for a day and perhaps you may enjoy it and make it a lifelong diet!
To be mindful is to simply be conscious and aware about everything. Being mindful means to be conscious first and foremost, of your self. Be aware of your feelings, your emotions and your thoughts. Be aware also of the present moment and the people around you. Being mindful is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing as you learn to understand yourself and those around you better, thus allowing you to enjoy life more.
To be mindful is to simply take interest in things that you have never thought about before. For example, you can practice mindfulness on the food you eat. Take time to understand where the food on your plate comes from, who grows them and how it got to your table. By understanding the process, you learn to develop a sense of gratitude towards it. You can also be mindful about the things you say. Try to understand why you say what you say and consider the impact it might have on others.
Meditation goes hand in hand with yoga and is typically paired with a yoga practice. If you aren’t interested in practicing yoga asanas but want to experience the kind of calmness and centeredness in yoga, try meditation! Meditation will help you improve focus and help you find a more positive outlook in life. When done daily, meditation will also keep you young!
On Yoga Day, meditate first thing in the morning when you wake up. Your meditation practice can be as short as 3 minutes or as long as 1 hour. You can meditate anywhere you want, be it from the comforts of your bed or on your favorite spot in the living room. If you have a spare room, dedicate that space to your meditation practice, as a specially designated space away from any noise and distractions will help you focus better. Make your meditation even more special by signing up for a short meditation retreat!
Go to A Yoga Class
The best way to experience yoga on International Yoga Day is to gather with other yogis for a good yoga session. Practicing together often time helps motivate you to get on the mat. A class setting also offers the support and guidance of a teacher who is able to help you with asana alignment as well as provide you with the necessary feedback that may help you move your practice forward.
If you have never tried yoga before, a good place to start is at your downtown yoga studio. Find classes that are suitable to your level – if you have never done yoga, start with a beginner’s yoga class. Check also for the types of yoga classes that are offered. Vinyasa yoga is a more upbeat power yoga class while yin yoga offers a slower paced and restorative form of yoga. If you aren’t keen on going to a class, attend a virtual one! There are plenty of free online yoga classes that you can try out from home.
Donate to A Cause
Another important part of yoga is the idea of disconnecting – that is, to disconnect yourself from the world. In practical terms, it is to disconnect yourself from material goods. One good way to do so is to buy less and give more. Make this yoga day even more special by giving to a cause that you believe in. It could be any type of cause ranging from human rights issues to conservation or poverty. Give to a movement or cause that you feel strongly about.
Instead of donating money, you can also donate your time and efforts. Volunteer in a program or offer your services to a non-governmental organization. Choose a cause you are passionate about and commit to being a part of it!