Pranayama, yoga asana and chakras have become common household terms, not just in India but all over the world. The ancient form called Yoga is apt for spiritual, mental and physical fitness. Every year, 21st June is celebrated as International Yoga Day. Many people from all across the world swear by the benefits of practising basic yoga asanas. The concept of World Yoga Day has gained immense popularity since its inception in the year 2015. Prior to 2015, there was no special day to commemorate this holistic branch of physical and mental exercise and wellness. Now each year people gather in throngs to perform group Yoga exercises or to participate in Yoga challenges and competitions as part of the Yoga day celebration.
The Idea Of International Yoga Day
The International Yoga Day history is quite interesting and sheds light on the efforts taken towards popularizing Yoga. The idea of having a separate day honouring Yoga was first put up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the UN General Assembly of 2014. He stated that Yoga is not merely a form of physical exercise, but a means of holistic wellness. He further explained the positive effect of Yoga on the overall lifestyle and its contribution to getting to know oneself better. PM Modi further asserted that this culturally rich practice that originated in India can be honoured by celebrating International Yoga Day once a year. The United Nations soon declared 21st June as International Yoga Day.
21st June 2015 was celebrated as the first International Yoga Day worldwide. In India, the Ministry of AYUSH and the Ministry of Health worked day and night to make the event of International Yoga Day a major success. PM Modi along with several members of his cabinet and several foreign diplomats gathered to perform several asanas for the Yoga Day celebration. This set a record for the world’s largest yoga class in which over 35000 people participated.
People from all over the world participated in this event by taking to the streets for group Yoga sessions or performed asanas from their homes. International Yoga Day significance has greatly increased since its first celebration.
Why 21st Of June?
International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21st June every year since 2015. But have you ever wondered why was the date 21st June chosen to commemorate the contribution of Yoga? What is so special about this date? The 21st of June is the longest day experienced by people residing in the Northern hemisphere of the Earth. The sun is out for the longest period of time on this day. It implies the presence of brightness and light in your life for a long period. Therefore the U.N Assembly chose this particular date to celebrate International Yoga Day. It is symbolic of Yoga shining bright like the Sun for a long time in your life and helps you to remain healthy.
Here Is Why You Should Practise Yoga
Yoga is one of the best holistic forms of exercises that originated in India and has now gained global fame. People who practise Yoga regularly describe it as not just exercise, but a way of living a healthier life. Here are some of the reasons why you should make Yoga a part of your exercise routine.
1. Physical Wellbeing
Yoga is one of the best forms of holistic workout. It is holistic because Yoga offers adequate stretching and exercise to almost every muscle of the body. There are various yoga postures for beginners that help to make the body more flexible. Other than being a great form of physical exercise, Yoga is also important to maintain good health of the various systems of the human body. A healthy heart, smooth functioning of the digestive tract, an active brain, strong bones and muscles can be maintained with regular practice of Yoga.
2. Mental Health
Physical exercise is directly responsible to maintain a person’s mental health. Regular practice of Yoga helps to release endorphins which are hormones that make a person feel good and positive. There are many yoga asanas for beginners that help to attain a state of mental relaxation. Yoga also has therapeutic effects and helps to prevent anxiety, depression, anger issues, and other psychological disturbances.
3. Better Quality Of Life
A healthy mind and healthy body is the sign of fulfilled living. People often think that they do not need to do exercise simply because ‘they are not fat’. Losing weight is not the only reason why people should do regular exercise. Other than maintaining an ideal weight, Yoga also helps to keep the brain and body functioning well. A session of Yoga helps to rejuvenate and release all the pent up stress. Yoga helps to enhance the quality of your life by boosting your self-confidence and stamina.
4. Strengthening Of Muscles
Yoga helps to maintain the musculoskeletal system in great shape by acting on every single muscle in the human body. Yoga asanas help to stretch the muscles adequately and improve their tone. There are specific yoga postures that help to strengthen the muscles of the limbs, the spine and the core. There is a lot more to strong muscles than merely a bulked physique. Muscular strength is an indication of a healthy set of muscles that can perform their functions well.
5. Improved Sleep Cycle
Insomnia is the inability to catch a good night’s sleep. This disturbs the daytime routine as well as the functioning of various systems of the human body. Insomnia could be due to mental stress, other systemic disorders or an erroneous lifestyle. Practising Yoga helps to treat insomnia by eliminating its root cause. There are several yoga asanas for beginners that help to overcome Insomnia itself and the difficulties caused due to it.
These are among the numerous benefits of Yoga for maintaining wellbeing and keeping diseases at bay. This world Yoga day, take a vow of working towards your good health by embracing Yoga.
5 Simple Yoga Poses For Beginners
Never tried Yoga till today? Not a problem. There is always a first time for everything. Starting off your exercise regimen with a few basic Yoga asanas is a great way to get acquainted with Yoga. Given below is a step-by-step guide of a few Yoga postures for beginners.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
The word Tada means palm tree. This asana is rightfully named so due to the upward stretching of the arms that makes the person appear taller like a palm tree. Tadasana is one of the best postures for morning Yoga for beginners.
How To Perform:
- Stand on an even floor with your feet close to one another.
- Your arms are placed to your side and your back is erect.
- Look straight ahead and elevate both your arms sideways and upward without bending at the elbow.
- Elevate your arms upward and bring them close by to interlock fingers of both hands.
- Turn your palms upwards and stretch both arms upward.
- Simultaneously elevate your heels as much as possible and stand on your toes.
2. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Bhujangasana or the Cobra pose is one of the easiest and yet very effective Yoga asanas. Bhujangasana is very effective for a healthy spine.
How To Perform:
- Lie over your abdomen on a flat and even surface while keeping your arms and legs relaxed.
- Bend both the elbows and place the flat of each palm, on the ground close to the corresponding shoulder.
- Extend your ankle backwards so that the heels touch one another and the toes touch the ground.
- While balancing the weight on both the palms, lift your upper body so that your back forms an arch.
- Only your pelvis and legs should be touching the floor.
- Stretch upward and backwards while keeping your elbows straight.
- Continue breathing evenly while performing this asana.
3. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Or Diamond Pose)
Vajrasana is one of the easiest Yoga postures. It is performed in a sitting posture that can be performed anytime and by people of all age groups. Vajrasana can even be performed after a heavy meal. In fact, it is known to aid healthy digestion.
How To Perform:
- Kneel down on an even surface and keep your knees close together.
- Gradually lower your body and sit on your heels.
- Curl your toes so that they touch the ground and keep your feet taut.
- Keep both knees close to each other and place each palm on the corresponding knee.
- Maintain an erect spine and look straight ahead.
4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana successfully provides adequate stretching to almost all muscles in the body. Paschimottanasana is beneficial for healthy digestion and blood circulation.
How To Perform:
- Sit straight on an even surface and stretch your legs forward.
- Keep both legs close together so that the heels, knees and toes are in a straight line.
- Maintain an erect spine and place each palm on the corresponding thigh.
- Gradually slide your palms forward up to the toes while bending forward from your back.
- Hold your ankles or toes or feet, whichever is easier for you.
- Remember to keep your neck in a neutral position without bending it forward or backwards.
5. Parvatasana (Grounded Mountain Pose)
Another asana that can be performed in a sitting posture is the Parvatasana. This pose is a great way of stretching your back muscles and muscles of the arms.
How To Perform:
- Sit cross-legged on an even surface with your back straight.
- Place both arms at the side of the body in a relaxed position.
- Gradually elevate both arms and bring them closer above your head so that both palms touch each other.
- Both palms must be in a position as if greeting someone with a namaste.
- Stretch both arms upward as much as possible with the palms touching one another.
- The upper arms should touch the corresponding ears.
These five asanas are highly suitable for basic Yoga for beginners. There are other asanas that one can learn as they progress with their Yoga journey. It is imperative that you learn Yoga under the guidance of a certified Yoga teacher only. This way you can avoid wrong postures and exercise-related injuries.
- International Yoga Day is celebrated every year on 21st June since 2015
- Yoga is a holistic form of exercise for mental, physical and spiritual health
- Yoga postures offer adequate workout to almost all the muscles in our body
- Yoga should be practised under the supervision of an experienced Yoga teacher
- Yoga helps to improve sleep pattern, digestion and overall physical health
Yoga is one of the best forms of physical exercises that encompass the health and wellbeing of a person on the physical, mental and spiritual level. Yoga has a lot to offer to its eager and willing students. Make Yoga an essential part of your lifestyle and see the difference in your overall health.