International Day of Yoga 2018
Many people first turn to yoga as a way to combat a busy and stressful modern lifestyle, seeking the balance that it promises. Ahead of International Day of Yoga on 21 June, we’re taking a look at this year’s theme of
Yoga for Harmony & Peace, and the ways yoga can promote them for us not only as individuals but also on a grander scale.
In 2017, the people of Lucknow in India experienced the incredible energy and harmony of 51,000 people all practising yoga together. We’ve all felt that, the energy and sense of inclusion that comes at the end of a particularly satisfying yoga class, the camaraderie of a shared experience.
When India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi put forward his behest to the United Nations for an International Yoga Day in 2014, he described yoga as embodying “unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being.”
Chances are if you’ve been to a couple of yoga classes, you’ll know that the word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit “yog” meaning union, or harmony. Its practice is all about balancing opposing forces, the masculine/feminine, mind/body. So many of the difficulties that we face in our lives come from a feeling of disconnection; from ourselves, from the people around us, from the wider world . As the final limb of yoga, Samadhi promises “together mind”, the joining of consciousness and the literal break down of all barriers between us and the rest of the universe. No biggie. There’s no better way to promote peace in our daily lives, and on a more macro scale, than to remind ourselves that everyone is fundamentally the same, cut from the same cloth and any differences of race, religion, who we’re supporting in the World Cup, are superficial only.
As part of our search for enlightenment (Samadhi) however, yoga does recognise the different layers of existence, which we work through following its Eight Limbs, the body, breath, the senses, meditation. By bringing these into harmony within ourselves, we can more easily live harmoniously with those around us. It’s so much easier to brush off a curt reply at work, our coffee order being mixed up or a frustrating time with our family if we feel good about (in harmony with) ourselves.
The first of the five yamas of yoga is ahimsa - or non-violence, to ourselves and others. This is the foundation of all the other yamas and relates not only to our intentions but also awareness of the consequences of our thoughts and actions. No one can reach enlightenment if they are too busy judging themselves and the people around them poorly.
Yoga encourages us to think a little more, about our movement, about our thoughts and our focus, about what we put into our bodies, and how we treat one another. This International Day of Yoga hopes to shine a light on the healing powers of yoga and our capacity for peace and harmony through its practice.
If you’re feeling inspired by International Day of Yoga 2018, come and join us for beautiful yoga and meditation retreatand see how a daily practice can bring a little peace in an often chaotic world.