'Yoga for humanity'
Celebrating ‘International Day of Yoga’ June 21st 2022
‘International Day of Yoga’ has been celebrated each year on 21st June since 2015 following its inception in the ‘United Nations General Assembly’ in 2014. The date of 21st June was suggested as it was the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.
The proposal for an ‘International Day of Yoga’ was first introduced by the India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly, he stated:
“Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action ... a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga, including “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.”
In this regard, the World Health Organization has also urged its member states to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide, and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Theme for 2022: Yoga for humanity
As quoted by the United Nations General Assembly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented human tragedy. Beyond its immediate impact on physical health, the pandemic has also exacerbated psychological suffering and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. This has highlighted the urgent need to address the mental health dimension of the pandemic, in addition to the physical health aspects.
People around the world embraced yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression during the pandemic. Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety.
The essence of yoga is balance - not just balance within the body or that between the mind and the body, but also balance in the human relationship with the world. Yoga emphasizes the values of mindfulness, moderation, discipline and perseverance. When applied to communities and societies, Yoga offers a path for sustainable living.
Yoga can be an important instrument in the collective quest of humanity for promoting sustainable lifestyle in harmony with planet Earth. In keeping with this spirit, the theme for this year’s Yoga Day celebrations is “Yoga for Humanity.”
To mark this celebration and to continue to raise awareness of yoga's efficacy in improving a wide range of mental health conditions, ‘Love Yoga London’ will be running a 'Yoga Nidra for Mental Health' workshop on Tuesday 21st June.
Yoga Nidra is a guided deep relaxation. Translated as ‘Yogic sleep’, it is described as a ‘liminal state’, an in-between space between deep sleep and wakefulness. In this state the practitioner may experience a sense of spaciousness, timelessness, pure awareness and a sense of being able to let go of the everyday. The conscious mind subsides but a level of awareness remains, promoting complete mental, emotional and physical relaxation.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra for mental health include:
· Relaxation – When suffering from a mental health condition, a person can often be in a chronic sympathetic state i.e. in a constant state of high alert, in fight or flight mode. Yoga Nidra decreases the sympathetic nervous system and increases parasympathetic dominance, providing relief from the symptoms of arousal, anxiety & depression. It promotes increased feelings of comfort, relaxation and a sense of calm and peace
· Lifts mood – Research has shown that levels of dopamine (a ‘feel good’ hormone), increase during Yoga Nidra. When suffering from a mental health issue, particularly stress, anxiety or depression, dopamine levels (and therefore your mood), tend to be low. By increasing this ‘feel good’ hormone, it helps to lift mood
· Provides respite from a busy mind – For many people Yoga Nidra can provide a break from a constantly ruminating mind. Yoga Nidra is a guided task-orientated relaxation, which is fast enough to keep even the most racing mind occupied
· Promotes better mental focus – A common result of suffering from anxiety or depression is often an inability to focus the mind. When practicing Yoga Nidra, practitioners are able to occupy and focus their minds on specific tasks throughout the practice, encouraging concentration and focus
· Encourages mindfulness – Our minds tend to constantly dart all over the place, to the past, present or future. When suffering from stress, anxiety or depression this is intensified and it can be incredibly difficult to move away from catastrophizing thoughts of the future or living in the past. In Yoga Nidra the attention it brings to different parts of the body increases awareness and mindfulness. Remember your body is only ever in the present moment, so by focusing upon this you are practicing present moment awareness….mindfulness!
Other benefits of Yoga Nidra include reduced blood pressure and reduced tension in the body.
When: Tuesday 21st June
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Cost: £10 payable in advance
Also includes an audio recording of the relaxation so that you can use it for home practice.
Please note that the practice of Yoga Nidra is not suitable if you suffer from low blood pressure, Schizophrenia or have psychotic symptoms.