June 21 is the first day of summer, but it’s also International Day of Yoga, as designated by the United Nations. Yoga is great exercise, therapy, and mind-body activity that you can literally do anywhere, no matter your physical condition. If you haven’t tried it in a while (or ever), today’s the day!
Endorsed by 175 UN member states, they day was introduced by India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who said, “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action…a holistic approach [that]is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world, and the nature.”
Here are 10 reasons to love yoga:
- Shoes are discouraged: most things are better with your shoes off – naps, beach time, snuggs.
- You can do it in your pajamas: you can literally wake up in the morning, stay in your pajamas, do a yoga sequence in your living room, and then hop in the shower and get ready for work. But…
- Yoga clothes are cute: if you want to sport some yoga pants, a blousy racerback, and some cute sandals on your way to class, and then hit up the grocery store afterward, you’ll look nice wherever you are.
- You can do it anywhere with or without equipment: you can use blocks, blankets, and straps, or you can make-do with what’s around you or modify your asanas. You can do yoga at home, in the backyard, in a hotel room on a towel, even in your office cube (granted, certain modified office-appropriate poses).
- Body shape, condition, and age don’t matter: there are ways to make the practice work for you wherever you’re at.
- You can exercise to your level: you can burn 700 calories in one hour of yoga, or you can do a gentle, relaxing practice. You can push yourself to do the advanced-level asanas, or stick to the basics. Yoga meets you there.
- When you need help, yoga is therapeutic: not only is yoga good for mind-body and for exercise, but it’s therapeutic. You can treat back pain, a tight PSOAS, tight quads, stress…
- Build a mind-body connection: there are meditative and spiritually-influenced yoga classes, and there are straight up workouts, but all, to some degree, have a mind-body connection due to the deep breathing exercises sustained throughout the practice and the rhythmic, meditative aspects.
- Yogis are nice: they just are. They’re patient, not judgy, and they say hi and smile.
- You feel better afterward: the funniest thing for me is watching runners cross the finish line with pained, horrified looks on their faces, and then they throw up. Why would anyone do that? When yoga classes adjourn, everyone is happy and calm.
Where to start
You can google local yoga studies, or pick up a video to try at home, like the one with Shiva Rea (which I personally love) below, or join an online yoga video service like Gaia or Yoga International. I recently joined Yoga International and love it because of the vast variety of videos, articles, and courses – I highly recommend it. The most important takeaway is that today, on Day of Yoga, get started – even if it’s with a 10-minute flow – and enjoy the feelings of groundedness, doing something good for yourself, and solidarity with those around you. Namaste.