The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested the date of June 21 for yoga day, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares special significance in many parts of the world.
OK, but what about the rest of the year? Why yoga?
I started off years ago recognizing that many athletes and personal clients I worked with had significant injuries from tight and sometimes weakened muscles, especially in the hip girdle, as I also began to notice that many poses in yoga focused on hip opening, hip stability or balance. I sent almost everyone off to try yoga - like Windex in My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, yoga became my Windex.
Over the years of practicing yoga, I’ve stumbled upon several other benefits, especially for myself. Yoga incorporates many things to help offset our busy and (my) sometimes frenetic life. Principles of yoga help us to slow down, connect with our breath by listening to each and every aspect of an inhale or exhale. We notice the differences of one breath from another. We reap the benefits of being mindful and present in the moment. We can exercise our mind and body, and the connection between both. Our physical body, our mental and emotional body all become stronger with yoga. And, new research shows that we have beneficial neurological changes from regular yoga and meditation practices (even just from a few minutes!)
While seemingly a fad here in the West, yoga and it’s various forms (Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa etc) have been around for more than 5,000 years. The discipline requires no special equipment, can be done anywhere, is appropriate for all levels, and very adaptable for those with specific limitations.
Yoga can be practiced just about anywhere for any length of time that works for you. Maybe 10 minutes a day first thing in the morning works. If you need a bit more time to get going or your morning routine doesn’t allow for a quick practice, choose another time, or look for a class to attend. A yoga studio can provide a sense of community and is usually a good resource for other health minded opportunities. Finding the time to get to a class that fits your busy schedule can sometimes be a challenge, but one that pays you back tenfold with a calmer demeanor that leaves you better equipped to handle whatever comes next.
Yoga can help decrease symptoms of many ailments and improve other areas to help keep you strong and flexible while becoming and feeling healthier.
Make a commitment on Yoga Day (Summer Solstice!) to give it a try, and if you already have a regular practice, enjoy your yoga day practice!
Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN is the owner of embodyFitness in Burlington, Massachusetts, a Board Certified Sports Dietitian, USAT coach and trainer, specializing in restorative techniques to support optimal health and function for people of all levels.