Today is International Day of Yoga 2021 — The Theme is ‘Yoga for Well-Being”
This year’s International Day of Yoga theme is “yoga for well-being,” so what does that mean and how can you get more well-being into your life?
“Well-being” is defined as, “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy,” according to the dictionary.
So how does yoga bring us comfort, health, and happiness? While this should be pretty obvious to those of us who learn/teach yoga, let’s break it down for the newbies.
Yoga for comfort
I have to laugh at “yoga for comfort” because the one thing yoga has taught me is about how to get OUT of my comfort zone and breathe through discomfort in all areas of life. But having a yoga practice has always been comforting to me in times of trouble — from my mother’s death to a global pandemic — yoga has always been there. My yoga mat has always given me a soft place to land.
The UN mentions the significance of International Day of Yoga this year around the (seemingly endless) global COVID-19 pandemic. As a COVID-19 survivor, I can relate the all that yoga gives me as a survivor. My pulmonologist even recommended it as a way to help me through long-term recovery from the virus as I had an especially rough time with it. He told me I couldn’t stress and that yoga would be good for me. I told him I had a yoga practice going B.C. (before COVID) and that I’d signed up for teacher training last year.
I wrote already how yoga helped me get through my COVID-19 recovery in the early & most painful stages. It was definitely more of a mental than a physical game. This is the great thing about yoga — it’s holistic. It helps every aspect of well-being, whether you want to define that as physical, mental, spiritual, or all of that.
Yoga for health
The effects of yoga on health are profound when you think of weight loss, fitness, and mobility. For me, yoga has helped me stay physically active through severe asthma and COVID-19 — though I will freely share that on my darkest days, “physically active” was achieved merely by standing or sitting on my mat and nothing more.
Yoga doesn’t always lower my blood pressure, but breathing does. Yoga’s built-in pranayama has been a lifesaver even though I can’t do all pranayama practices as some are contraindicated for asthma. There’s nothing that works better or faster to lower my heart rate and BP than breathing.
One profound change I’ve been noticing lately is how I am becoming better at recognizing my body’s new limits. I’d always been very “go go go” and “Type A” in life. When COVID hit, I realized my normal way of having only two speeds — stop and go — had become a bad thing. I am still learning to pace and that’s a good thing. I’m learning to pace my physical activity in life, both on and off the mat.
Yoga for happiness
Does the physical aspect of practicing yoga asana make us happy? Yes, I think so. But finding happiness in yoga is such a deeper journey than this. I find that off-the-mat practices help me find contentment, joy, and even happiness. Through work with samskaras (patterns I endeavor to release), practices like ahimsa, and even karma, I am becoming more skillful at life. I am learning to experiment with the science of yoga.
If your life sucks will one yoga practice fix it? Nope. But a continued yoga practice you don’t give up on will feed you for life. The more you practice yoga, the clearer and better life will get. Your health will improve, your comfort will grow, and you will naturally begin to seek out the opportunities for happiness that are right for you.
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