Once a year, yogis the world over celebrate the UN-declared International Day of Yoga (IDY) on June 21st. It’s a day to acknowledge and invest in—mentally, physically, and emotionally—the benefits of yoga, and to connect with friends and community members over the shared practice.
Annilese Lonidier, an owner of three yoga studios in the Atlanta area, emphasizes the importance of sharing IDY with others. “Yoga literally means ‘to yoke’—it’s about creating union,” she says. Of course, there are lots of ways to create union with friends and your wider community, so when June 21st rolls around, be prepared to celebrate and connect with one of these fun ideas.
1. Start Your Day With an Easy Flow
Nothing will put you in a better head space to start the day than enjoying a morning practice. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t need to change out of your pajamas to get started. Simply try a free, five-minute YouTube video, like one from the Yoga with Adrienne channel.
Or you could ditch your usual alarm clock altogether and download the Yoga Wake Up app. This app literally wakes you up with audio cues for yoga sequences and meditations, so you don’t even have the option to skip your morning practice.
2. Wear Your “Om” on your Sleeve
Collage by Laura Williams
One good way to connect with like-minded yogis? Advertise your intention with a graphic yoga or mantra tee. For instance, Cotopaxi’s Do Good tee is clearly aligned with the yoga lifestyle and makes its intention crystal clear.
But if you want something a little more “yoga-y,” there are lots of cute options on Etsy, like this Change Your View top and the Yoga Ohm muscle tee.
3. Splurge on a New Mat or Pair of Yoga Pants
Flexi Lexi and Ideas by Arianna
This one is all about a little personal indulgence, but in the process, you’re also supporting your favorite yoga brand, so there’s that. Here’s the fun part: Instead of buying the “practical” or “standard” mat or apparel item, choose something you really like, but you might not usually buy.
Say, for instance, these adorable watermelon yoga pants from Flexi Lexi, or a cheeky yoga mat, like a Namaste Unicorn or Savasana Panda mat from Ideas by Arianna.
4. Break Up Your Day With Office Yoga
Most of the time, International Yoga Day falls on a weekday, which means you’ll probably be spending a good amount of time at a desk. Break up your day and keep yourself centered by doing at least one yoga pose at your desk each hour.
For instance, XDesk put together several poses you can easily incorporate, including the modified downward dog shoulder stretch and the seated twist shown above.
5. Seek Out Free Classes (And Tip the Instructor)
The week of International Yoga Day, lots of instructors and studios offer free classes and events. Check with your favorite local studio or your city to find classes near you, and choose one to attend with a friend.
Then after class, tip the instructor or offer a donation to his or her studio. It’s not required, but it’s a great way to give back to the community and pay it forward in support of the next free event.
6. Try a New Style of Yoga
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in all areas of life, including your yoga practice. Which is ironic, given that yoga encourages you to challenge your limitations.
But if you’ve been going to the same studio, doing the same practice, all under the same instructor for months or years, it may be time to try something new. Use the International Day of Yoga as an excuse to find and schedule a different style of class.
For instance, Kendra Charts, an internationally recognized yoga instructor, acrobatic yoga teacher, and the co-founder of More Than Dreaming, suggests trying slackline yoga, aerial yoga, or acro yoga to infuse new life into your practice.
If you want to try a few acro yoga moves on your own, Charts offers up the following poses to get started.
Pose 1: Pyramid Shoulder Stretch
This pose allows both partners to release tension in their shoulders, upper back and neck.
Try It Out: Stand tall, facing each other, and reach forward to press your palms together. Press your hips away from one another while at the same time extending your arms upward and moving your chests towards each other, creating a kind of “pyramid” with your arms and torsos. Talk to each other if you need more or less pressure in the hands to find the extension. To come out, walk in close until standing upright.
Pose 2: Badakonasana With Backbend
Improve your quality of breath and connection with one another.
Try It Out: Partner one sits tall, and brings the soles of her feet together, knees opening outward. Partner two sits back-to-back behind the first partner, planting his feet on the ground, knees bent. Partner two leans backward, reaching his arms over his head, pressing partner one gently forward, extending into a supported backbend. Partner two must communicate and be sensitive to how far forward partner one can go. Stay for 8 breaths. Partner one slowly returns to the starting position, guiding partner two to sitting. Switch roles.
Pose 3: Backfly
In this backbend (shown), the flyer must fully surrender control to the base and gravity.
Try It Out:
Flyer (top person): Face away from your base’s feet, and hold onto the base’s ankles with your fingers pointing to the mid-line. Relax your back into a backbend. Keep your legs heavy towards the ground. Surrender while your partner supports you through the exercise. To come out of the pose, grasp the base’s ankles and place your feet on the earth as the base slowly lowers you down.
Base (bottom person): Lie on your back and extend both feet vertically toward the ceiling (like the number 11) with your toes positioned a little above the flyer’s waistband. Allow the flyer to lean back onto your feet so you’re supporting her. Bend both knees, drawing them towards your chest to allow the flyer a deeper backbend. When you’re both ready, press through your heels to extend your legs straight, lifting the flyer from the ground. Align your legs vertically over your hips at a 90 degree angle. Keep your core engaged to stabilize your legs.
Use a spotter to assist if you’re worried about balance throughout the pose.
7. Invest in a Once-in-a-Lifetime Yoga Experience
If you’ve been toying with the idea of splurging on a yoga retreat or vacation, what better time to bite the bullet and make the commitment than on International Yoga Day? There are countless opportunities to strike a pose on mountaintops or tropical beaches, but here are a few especially cool experiences you might want to try (somewhat surprisingly, a lot of them are in Las Vegas):
- HeliYoga Limitless: Maverick Helicopters, a charter helicopter company in Las Vegas, offers a luxury helicopter flight and yoga experience featuring a remote landing at Valley of Fire State Park in an area only accessible by chopper. Once you and up to five of your closest friends have arrived, you’ll enjoy a private, 75-minute yoga session with an instructor from Silent Savasana. During the class, you’ll each wear wireless headphones that transmit a custom playlist and instructions so you can follow along while taking in the breathtaking red rock formations. Of course, the whole thing costs a pretty penny—several thousand dollars for the two and a half hour experience.
- Camelbak Pursuit Series:If you’re the outdoorsy type who wants to commune with nature while deepening your outdoor knowledge, then the Camelbak Pursuit Series is the right option for you. These three- to four-day events provide morning meditations and daily yoga classes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can also take part in everything from trail running to paddleboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, and surfing, all while camping out, meeting new friends, and celebrating in the great outdoors. Tickets for the whole she-bang cost about $400, not including meals or lodging, although camping on-site runs just about $50 a day.
- Yoga Among the Dolphins:Another Las Vegas experience you should try at least once is The Mirage’s Yoga Among the Dolphins, where the entire yoga class is held in the Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat’s underwater observation room. In other words, your $50 yoga class surrounds you with serene blue water and beautiful sea creatures. Is there any better way to pretend you’re a mermaid for a day?
- Yoga Surf Nutrition Retreat:Head south of the border to Rancho Pescadero in Todos Santos, Mexico for the ultimate yoga wellness retreat. This four-day event includes two daily yoga sessions, two surf lessons, cooking and nutrition classes, a 60-minute massage, and all your food and drinks during your stay. Of course, it costs a couple thousand bucks, not including flights or transportation to the retreat, but it’s hard to beat the relaxation and amenities once you arrive.
8. Add a Little Yoga to Your Home
A mandala necklace or a well-placed wall-hanging that reminds you to stay calm and find your center is a great way to make yoga part of your lifestyle. But you don’t have to lay out tons of cash to incorporate yoga here and there throughout your home.
Little trinkets and fun home goods are a great option at a reasonable price. For instance, just check out these yoga pose coasters, Yoga Joes toy soldiers, and yoga pose food cutters, all from UncommonGoods. They’re a good reminder that life, and yoga, don’t have to be all that serious.
9. Instagram Your Adventures
If you don’t Instagram your yoga adventures, did they really happen? Of course they did. But Lonidier points out, “Yoga is big on Instagram, and there will definitely be an #internationalyogaday hashtag. Snap a pic of yourself in a posture you’re currently working on and tag it.”
Instagramming isn’t just a good way to engage with other yogis from around the world, it’s actually a good way to track your progress over time. “Next year take a picture of yourself in the same posture and compare. See how your practice has progressed. It’s a cool way to honor your hard work and to see exactly how much you’re capable of when you set your mind to something,” Lonidier says.
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