International Day of Yoga

“If yoga goes mainstream, I’m going to quit,” a passionate yogini exclaimed to me.  I was representing Yoga Alliance as its first President, traveling to yoga conferences to explain what we were creating — a self-governing body of yoga teachers.  She was more invested in being “alternative” than in doing yoga.  Yet yoga is mainstream now, with meditation becoming more so daily, especially in this pandemic.

Six years ago, the UN declared June 21 as “International Day of Yoga,” with a unanimous vote on a resolution presented by the Prime Minister of India.  They were voting for health and happiness, the benefits that he presented, especially that yoga could reduce their national medical costs and improve people’s lives.  This is not merely mainstreaming yoga, this is now institutional recognition.

Yet America’s yogis don’t celebrate this event much.  Every year, I search the internet and find many international venues, but few in the USA.  I confess, I have a personal investment in this holiday because I tried to get it going in 1998, more than 20 years ago.  Of course, I didn’t have the clout of the UN behind me, only Yoga Alliance.  I framed it as a much-needed fundraiser at the time, but continued for several years beyond the need for donations to fund Yoga Alliance.  It is well established now, and my humble idea has gone global!

It’s time to celebrate yoga!  Though we may not be able to gather in person, online events are possible, just like online yoga classes.  My own organization is holding several free classes and meditation programs.  I hope your teacher will too!

We’re celebrating on Sunday June 20, technically the true solstice this year, happening precisely at 5:45 pm EDT.  The celebrations around the world will be different this year; let’s see what creative and joyful ideas people come up with.  And of course, you can simply pick that day to do more yoga.

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati leads Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram in Downingtown PA.  An American yogi, she is an inspiring teacher with a loving manner and a great sense of humor.  Before becoming a swami (yoga monk), as Rama Berch, she served the yoga community as the founding president of Yoga Alliance.  Traveling and teaching nationally and internationally, she is authorized to initiate people into deep meditation through Shaktipat, as did Swami Muktananda, her own Guru.  The Ashram website features extensive Freebies, including articles and audio recordings on the principles of consciousness as taught by the sages of India, as well as how to apply them in your life today.

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