Did you know that International Yoga Day is today? June 21st was proclaimed the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations in 2014 – and is now annually celebrated. Here’s what it’s all about according to the United Nations:
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
(Continued) Yoga for Health
The theme for the 2017 celebration, organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, is ‘Yoga for Health.’ The theme highlights the fact that yoga can contribute in a holistic way to achieving an equilibrium between mind and body.
The organizers believe that this approach to health and wellbeing can make a direct and useful contribution to humankind’s quest to achieve sustainable development and move towards lifestyles that are in harmony with nature.
4 Simple Moves to Celebrate National Yoga Day
For many of us and many people around the globe, Yoga is not only a daily practice, but a way of life. It brings peace and harmony to the mind, while simultaneously challenging the body to be still, strong and solid. It’s reflective, quiet and often a challenge that exceeds all else as our minds and hearts are cluttered with an overwhelming number of thoughts and responsibilities.
This year’s theme, ‘Yoga for Health’ speaks personally to me as I constantly strive to find additional ways to make my own health – both mental and physical – a priority. If you’re new to yoga and are feeling the inspiration to get started today or you’ve made yoga a life-long journey, here are a few of my favorite simple yoga moves to try at home.
#1. Bharadvaja’s Twist
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.
- Inhale and lift through the top of the sternum to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Soften the belly.
- Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right.
- You can turn your head in one of two directions: continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at your feet.
- With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, using the push of the fingers on the floor to help; with every exhalation twist a little more. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
#2. Downward Dog
- Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips.
- Walk hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat.
- Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from ears. Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Hold for 3 full breaths.
#3. Child’s Pose
This incredibly basic move is a resting pose you can stay in for up to a few minutes.
- Start with your knees and tops of your feet on the floor with the feet together and touching.
- With your knees apart, rest your belly and chest between the legs.
- Place your head on the floor, and stretch the arms out in front of you.
- Modification: If your head doesn’t reach the floor you can use a block or pillow to rest it on.
#4. Tree Pose
Tree is an awesome standing balance for beginners to work on to gain focus and clarity, and learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot.
- Start with your feet together and place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh.
- Press your hands in prayer and find a spot in front of you that you can hold in a steady gaze.
- Hold and breathe for 8-10 breaths then switch sides.
- Make sure you don’t lean in to the standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders relaxed.
Is Yoga part of your journey to health or something you’d like to learn and incorporate into your daily routine?