Happy International Yoga Day

Happy International Yoga Day!

This ancient practice is growing more and more not only popular, but also influential in the world, to the point it earned it’s own holiday.

There is a very long list of reasons social media (and other benefits of modern times) are having a negative impact on our lives. But one thing is for sure - social media has an amazing power to bring people from all corners and walks of life together! And that definitely became true on the International Yoga Day.

Yogis of the East and the West rejoiced on June 21st, and I was of course very happy to be part of the celebrations!

Here are some beautiful pictures of people from all corners of the world, walks of life, gender, age and any other physical characteristic, practicing yoga together on one day, united.

Over 35k people in New Delhi. Source: blogs.wsj.com[/caption]

Nothing better than yoga in Paris. Source: mashable.com[/caption]

India stood up to it’s name as the Homeland of Yoga. Source: medicaldaily.com[/caption]

Luckily, living in San Francisco Bay has it’s yoga perks - lovers of this ancient practice united over the weekend and celebrated in various ways. I was very lucky to be one of them!

I kicked off my weekend with my usual Saturday morning class, we played with some inversions and backbends to get our yoga high on. On Saturday night, I practiced and co-taught 108 Sun Salutations at Hot Spot Yoga studio in Oakland. It was a true yoga tapasya experience - performing an austerity in order to burn fire, burn karma, burn whatever you no longer need.. I have never completed the full 108, let along done it while teaching a third of the San Salutes. To summarize, it was a beautiful experience. To be more detailed, no it wasn’t easy!

The experience sure was ecstatic, as you can see from your shining smiles and sweaty foreheads. We set up our mats in a circle, and the energy was very condensed and focused on our mission, with no distractions except for flowing yet upbeat music. As we began to flow, we quickly cut up to a steady rhythm and breath. We only did Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar A, without any breaks in child’s pose (I know!!). Towards the last third, which was coincidentally taught by me, I started to feel my body and my mind detoxing, calming, and at the same time fire burning inside. I began to sweat more and felt stronger and steadier with each cycle. Overall, I definitely recommend this type of event or “sacrifice” (yajna in Sanskrit), and I am probably going to host another one pretty soon. It was a 100% donation based event, with all proceedings going to Yoga for Hope, a cause that unites cancer patients with yoga and donates to health and research.

Sunday was a new day, and the official International Yoga Day. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of yogis connected on the grass, overlooking the Golden Gate bridge in the Marina Park, San Francisco. Dozens of yoga schools took turns teaching asana and speaking about yoga philosophy on the main stage.

We got a glimpse into the Iyengar school, practiced Astanga yoga with a direct students of Pattabhi Jois, and heard a 90-something year old Sanskrit scholar quote the Bhagavad Gita. All in all, everyone was there. I didn’t get to practice as much as I would have liked, since most presenters chose to speak about yoga as a spiritual, intuitive and introspective practice rather than a workout (or as one teacher put it, yoga is a work-IN, not a work-out). However, I am always the one to support the philosophical and spiritual aspect of yoga, and my shoulders were on fire from the day before, so I have nothing to complain about. The highlight of my event was a concert with Jai Uttal, one of my favorite yoga musicians, playing together with Prajna Viera, a girl with an angelic voice!

In the end, every day can be an International Yoga Day - just share your love and experience of the practice with others. Happy yoga-ing!