Today, Wednesday 21 June, is International Yoga Day. Officially recognised by the UN, this day serves as a promotion of global health, harmony and peace. It is also Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the mid-point of the summer season. A day when many people across the world will look back on the year so far and look ahead to what they’d like to achieve in the next phase the year.
What better time to reflect on my experience of yoga so far and why it benefits so many people?
When I started practicing 6 months ago, I didn’t imagine how engrained into my life yoga would become. It’s now a natural part of my day and I value the time, calm and personal strength it gives me.
When initially I’d struggle to keep my balance in a crescent lunge, I now find myself working on my chaturangas and relish the challenge of balancing in crow. Who’d have thought! And even on the days when it feels more difficult, there lies the perfect opportunity to grow. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so. And that’s why it’s a practice. With time, we become more and more able to push our limits and develop ourselves. Our practice grows with us, and we become stronger.
But it’s not all about the physical. The optimism, openness and mental awareness that can be developed through yoga is amazing. It allows you to find stillness in a world that is in constant flux.
Often, the mind is the first thing to give up when something feels too hard. So when we are able to train the mind through yoga and dedicate ourselves to learning and improving, we derive even more benefit from our practice.
Without taking that step forward, whether it’s attending your very first class or attempting an advanced pose, you never know what you might discover about yourself and the world around you.
Above all, it’s a journey. I’m still near the beginning of my yoga journey, but thus far the key drivers for me personally have been perseverance and having a bit of self-belief. We are all capable of so much, and allowing ourselves the chance to be the best possible versions of ourselves is a powerful mindset to have.
Yoga is all about energising the mind, body and soul. And it’s incredible ability to do just that makes it a powerful practice to develop.