Written by: Lori Kirwan, PhD in Exercise Physiology
The notion of celebrating an International Yoga Day was first proposed by the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi during a speech he gave at the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. He stated:
"Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day. "- Narendra Modi
Many in the western world associate yoga with the physical postures of yoga (asanas) and don’t realize how deep and intricate the true practice of yoga is. For a wonderful 30-minute documentary on the origin, depth, and history of yoga, please click here.
I personally feel that yoga deserves a day of recognition because of what it has brought to my own life. I began my career running, jumping, and doing only high intensity workouts. In 1997, after a ski accident and a torn ACL and meniscus, I had to have surgery and take 3 months off. This was when I signed up for my first yoga teacher training. I figured I should do something since I had the time off and wanted to put my time to good use.
After completing this class, and a few more after that, I fell in love with power yoga and developed my own type of vinyasa power athletic flow. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t still be teaching fitness classes after all these years if I didn’t pick up this yoga practice. It saved my body! It was the silver lining to my own injury.
Yoga not only helps with flexibility, but it also teaches breathing, core activation, and strength and stability all at once.
I often hear people say “No, yoga just isn’t for me” and I want to explain that there are hundreds of different types of yoga and approaches to yoga, meaning there is very likely at least one type that will fit and attract everyone! You just need to find the right one and the right teacher that you connect with.
The Toronto Athletic Club and the Adelaide Club hold over 35 yoga classes per week and have over 20 different types of yoga on their schedules, including “Yoga with weights”, “Yoga Bootcamp”, “Power Yoga”, and a gentler “Yin Yoga”. The spectrum of offerings really spans from 0 to 100, so I am absolutely sure there is a class that’s perfect for everyone. I recommend trying a few classes (and a variety of styles of yoga) before you decide yoga isn’t for you. The benefits are endless and, in fact, regular practice will make you stronger for your harder core activities and help you to continue these workouts as you age.
Lori Kirwan, PhD in Exercise Physiology
Group Exercise Instructor & Personal Trainer, Adelaide Club & Toronto Athletic Club