It’s International Yoga Day

Yes, yoga has its own annual day of recognition: June 21, which also happens to be the summer solstice. It’s a well-deserved acknowledgement for many reasons, but let’s start with the most important: Yoga can change all our lives for the better. No matter your age, physical limitations, body type or ability, yoga “really is as healthy as people say,” the New York Times proclaimed this past April.
Why the International Day of Yoga is important. While yoga is indisputably good for you, this wildly popular pursuit is more than a bit misunderstood. It is often referred to as an exercise or athletic activity, but in fact it is a deeply profound mental, physical and spiritual practice. Its proven benefits abound—from reducing stress, depression and anxiety to improving sleep, physical fitness, balance, strength, aching backs, mental health, mood and more. So International Yoga Day is meant to raise awareness about yoga as a multidimensional and holistic practice that positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.
Why is International Yoga Day on June 21? It’s timed to coincide with the summer solstice. Indian mythology says that the yogic tradition came from the creator and supreme being, Shiva, the god of yogis and yoga practice who chose to impart yoga to the world on the longest day. When India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed International Yoga Day to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, he noted that the summer solstice has significant meaning to many cultures. And indeed, the resolution to establish International Yoga Day on June 21, 2015 received support from 177 out of 193 members—more member states than any other UN resolution in history.
Why am I telling you about this? We all have busy schedules, crazy work hours, huge family demands, (some) unhealthy habits and other stressors. And we are all bombarded with emails and social media touting the impact that these many mental and physical issues have on our bodies and minds. This observance highlights and substantiates the importance of spiritual, psychological and physical wellness in today’s complex, fast-moving and often harsh world. And as a IAYT certified yoga therapist, I can say with authority that all of us can totally transform how we think and feel through the practice of yoga.
Giving yoga its just due. For all these reasons, I’m dedicating this month’s newsletter to yoga. Think of it as a mini primer for now, with more to follow. Consider trying it or add something new if you already have a yoga practice. But if you practice it with commitment and sincerity, yoga can not only help you navigate life changes with grace and resilience but can also keep you healthy and cogent as you age—and that’s a hard proposition to turn down. But for now, here are a few things to pique your interest in, and commitment to, this life giving, soul-sustaining pursuit.



Stay tuned for my new article in Organic Spa Magazine’s Bookazine – The Art of Wellbeing, on “The True Ethos of Yoga: Why it’s More Important Now than Ever Before.”

Photo: Lois Greenfield

The True Meaning of Yoga

Most of us turn to yoga as a form of exercise to improve strength, muscle tone and flexibility. But in truth, we’ve misunderstood the true intent of this discipline. It was never intended to be just physical training to work out our bodies and generate sweat. Nor is it primarily about exercise. A 5,000 year old science, yoga is an ancient system for accessing, healing and integrating the body and mind. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to “join, link or connect.” Yoga is the art of linking all parts—body, mind, behavior and emotions—to reach a new level of self-integration. Each time we attempt to link with any aspect of ourselves or our world, we are doing yoga.

Using Yoga to Achieve Optimal Health

Ancient yogis developed yoga to affect overall change in a person’s system through the various techniques of movement, breathing, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and the study of texts. Through these practices, we learn to transform negative qualities of the mind into higher states of clarity, which promotes overall physical and emotional wellbeing. In truth, there are endless ways to do this—and all help us protect our health, maintain how we feel and sustain our lives. Learn about yoga’s whole-health model with powerful strategies to foster self-healing here.

How to Get Started

5 Integrative Ways to Transform Body, Mind and Spirituality 
These five yogic therapies can be used alone or together to foster healing and wellness:

  1. Asanas: Bodily movement helps us sustain and develop our skeletal system, spine, muscles, tendons and joints to nourish our physical strength and flexibility. 
  2. Pranayama: Conscious breathing is a powerful vehicle for generating vitality, refining and developing our physiology, and regulating the autonomic nervous system to activate or relax the body and mind.
  3. Chanting: Vibration and vocalizing sounds are used widely to support learning, memory, concentration and emotional balance.
  4. Meditation: Meditation helps us to develop healthy behaviors, character and relationships and to focus on and connect to a concept or object of attention.
  5. Personal Ritual: Ritual and prayer promotes personal transformation, spirituality and connection and is used to develop a sense of purpose, inspiration and joy.

How to Choose and Combine Therapies and Practices

A huge body of strong evidence-based research shows that by adding yoga’s mind-body and self-care practices to our daily lives, we can significantly impact almost every aspect of our health—from energy, aging and immunity to sleep, happiness, family relationships and even sex. But choosing which practices can be confusing as there are so many options in the yoga ecosystem. They all combine the five strategies described above but can also be individualized to address specific needs and offer you ways to achieve many different objectives. See this archive of over 70 simple-to-follow videos of effective practices you can use alone or combine for health, healing and personal growth.

Celebrating My Personal Teachers

Traditionally, yoga is the passing on of a lineage from deeply experienced teachers to apprentices and pupils. Most of what I know about yoga came from being in the presence of my teachers, especially T.K.V. Desikachar. Learning from him was both an honor and privilege. Through a method called Viniyoga, Desikachar and my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, made yoga accessible to me. They not only taught me how to use yoga in my life but instilled within me with the passion and drive to continue this yogic tradition and make it accessible to others. Together they kindled and shaped my true faith in yoga.

Most remarkably, today, June 21st, is my teacher Desikachar’s birthday.

Learning Through Yoga

For those of you so moved, consider building your knowledge about yoga with the following books, which I refer to again and again. 

  • For developing a personal practice, The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar
  • For a detailed manual on the practice and methods of yoga and Yoga Therapy, Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation by Gary Kraftsow
  • For fueling your emotional growth and mental healing, my book, Emotional Yoga, which grew out of my personal needs and those of my students 

Visit the Global Wellness Institute Yoga Therapy Initiative for trends and the upcoming white paper on Yoga Therapy as a new wellness modality for the 21st century. 

I hope this newsletter inspires you to develop your own yoga practice. If it does, I would be thrilled to hear about your journey so please be in touch. Or contact me with your thoughts and questions.

Celebrate International Yoga Day with my book
Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind

“A brilliant design for emotional and spiritual stability.”
—Wayne W. Dyer

About     Wellness Initiatives     Speaking     Publications 

Follow Bija on Social Media!





Copyright © 2023 BijaB, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.