The UN declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga, after 175 (out of 193) Nations backed India’s Resolution. 192 countries worldwide are reported to having participated in celebrations marking the first International Day of Yoga across the globe.
The date was chosen to coincide with Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. In yoga philosophy, it is considered that this is the day when knowledge of yoga was first shared with the world. It’s also thought to be a time where natural support for those pursuing spiritual practices is greater.
Events were held across the UK. Incredible India hosted a day of celebrations at the Bernie-Spain Gardens at London’s Southbank. It was a day full of scheduled free activities where everyone was welcome to join. Sessions began early under a dry and bright sky. At 9am following many introductory speeches, the lamp was lit marking the opening of festivities. This began with a Hatha yoga warm up class led by the British Wheel of Yoga.
It was fantastic to see a coming together of diverse community, which included many of Indian origin. This included a balance of gender, ages and many children. Something I don’t often see as a yoga teacher in London.
A wonderful Indian Classical dance troupe, with ornate colourful costumes performed several routines throughout the day (sadly I didn’t get their names). They explained how many of their routines included yoga postures (asana). One could certainly observe other elements of Patanjali’s Yoga in their performances, with attention placed upon focal points, sense withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana) which brought music, movement and focus together with great skill.
Sessions continued with taster Ashtanga Yoga, followed by a Family Yoga class. That was a real treat and great fun which culminated in practicing Kapalbhati breath, whilst walking on the sit bones visualising being a steam locomotive train. Well we certainly sounded like one! It was inspiring to see how creative yoga classes can be and children and adults alike were all engaged.
Mr Satish Kumar kindly presented an honest lecture on yoga philosophy (from his place of truth) and its place in the modern world, to bring about self-love and kindness, which in-turn will lead to love and kindness to those around us. He drew a clear distinction between two worlds. An outer physical world measured by quantity and an inner subtle world measured by quality. He explained that “the marriage of quality and quantity is the connection that yoga philosophy makes. Connecting ourselves with ourselves. Connecting ourselves with the human and natural world.”
He ended by encouraging the Indian Government to truly being Yoga instead of concerning itself with Drones and other worldly affairs – as a means to being the global leaders in world peace by using Yoga to manifest World-Peace.
An iMeditate session was shared by the Art of Living Foundation. The day ended with a yoga class led by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre. A large group of practitioners had travelled along the Thames in a boat to mark the day, docking at the Southbank where they joined the rest of us in the gardens. To say their entrance was rather James Bond would be fair.
It was interesting to note that there was no chanting, no mention of aum, or any sanskrit chants vocalised in any of the yoga sessions offered. This I found unusual but a move I welcome as it enabled the day to be open to a broader range of participants.
All in all, a fun family community spirited day out. Many people passing along the Southbank also stopped to listen and join sessions. It certainly helped to create balance, a deeper understanding and sharing of yoga, to that often portrayed.
Well done to organisers, many thanks to all for sharing and coming together.
Peace and love, Sky