The international community observes June 21 as International Yoga Day, recognizing the many benefits of the ancient Indian practice of yoga. Although yoga has long been recognized as India’s gift to the global culture of wellness, the official UN recognition came after a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
Prime Miniter Modi 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.”
Felena Hanson (Hera Hub Mission Valley)
The United Nations theme for this year is “Yoga for well-being”, which takes into account how the practice can promote the holistic health of every individual. The first Yoga Day celebrations were held in 2015 at Raj Path in New Delhi and Modi, along with other dignitaries, had created two Guinness World Records. The first record was set for housing 35,985 people and being the world’s largest yoga session. The second one was for having the most number (84) of nationalities participating in it.
Well-being is important to us at Hera Hub. We thought it would be fun to have each of our locations show off their space and yoga poses.
Linda Talamo (Hera Hub Irvine)
The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of a person’s body and consciousness.
“Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness,” the United Nations.
What makes Yoga special?
Yoga is considered not only a form of physical exercise but has been credited for being a practice that enables spiritual and mental well-being.
Julia Westfall (Hera Hub DC)
The earliest estimates claim that Yoga was being practiced in pre-vedic India – dating back to 3000 BCE. The practice also finds mention in ancient texts like the Rigveda as well as the Upanishads.
Yoga was introduced in the West in 20th century, where it received recognition and acclaim for its rejuvenating holistic approach to physical and mental well-being.
Types of Yoga
There are many types of yoga. Hatha (a combination of many styles) is one of the most popular styles. It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).
Alisha Wilkins (Hera Hub Temecula)
The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this “edge,” the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.
When you’re stronger and more flexible, your posture improves. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength, since you need your core muscles to support and maintain each pose.
With a stronger core, you’re more likely to sit and stand “tall.” Yoga also helps your body awareness. That helps you notice more quickly if you’re slouching or slumping, so you can adjust your posture.Breathing Benefits
Yoga usually involves paying attention to your breath, which can help you relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques. But yoga typically isn’t aerobic, like running or cycling, unless it’s an intense type of yoga.
Tamina Madsen (Hera Hub Carlsbad)
Good for Your Heart
Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure or heart disease, and people who’ve had a stroke. Yoga has also been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and better immune system function.
Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It’s likely that the yoga restores “baroreceptor sensitivity.” This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.
Melissa Lee (Hera Hub Sorrento Valley)
Another study found that practicing yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease. It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.
Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor.
Researchers are also studying if yoga can help people with depression and arthritis, and improve survival from cancer.
Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life. Find registered yoga teachers (RYT) and studios (RYS) through The Yoga Alliance.