According to BBC, this past Sunday was International Yoga Day in India. “On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and more than 35,000 people took part in a mass yoga programme, setting a new Guinness World Record for the largest yoga class at a single venue.” (BBC)
For 35 minutes, yoga was king. Children, leaders and yoga instructors joined the Prime Minister on the streets of Delhi, India to bring the benefits of yoga front and center. The New York Times, says there were Yoga Day demonstrations in many other world cities including: Paris, Beijing, Osaka, Seoul and New York. (NYT)
I can’t tell you that what I did Saturday morning came close to being surrounded by thousands in the streets of Delhi, or even in the center of Times Square, but, the feeling of unity was present and the benefits of yoga extolled just the same.
This weekend, “Scripps Health, in conjunction with the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the USS Midway and Yoga One” sponsored free yoga in a very historical locale. Mat after mat lined the Flight Deck of the USS Midway Museum as yogis young and old blanketed the tarmac. Now, I’ve done group yoga classes before, free ones offered by shops or studios in a park or at a gym, but this one was different. With live music playing, news cameras rolling, photographers snapping and vendors giving away goodies, for one hour, the owner of Yoga One transfixed her audience. Filled with modifications for all levels, participants bended and flexed through warriors and headstands.
Although asanas (poses) were the focus of the session, they were far from the only message. Ban Ki Moon (United Nations Secretary-General) proclaimed “21 June as the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has recognized the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations”. (UN) Perhaps, this yoga event wasn’t meant to be a part of World Yoga Day. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that my savasana was taking place at the very same time as preparations were underway for thousands of other savasana participants. Perhaps it was being on that floating museum, steeped in heritage of those who came before me and knowing that there were countless others having similar experiences at the very same time.
I’m not sure, but I do know that this yoga class was special. For the past five years, yoga has been a part of my life. Whether on a mat, towel or dangling from a hammock, yoga’s participants, providers and poses have changed me. From principles to postures, headstands to holistic practices, and warriors to its wealth of benefits, yoga has been a positive influence. And on some level, it was comforting knowing that on the streets of Delhi, where I had the privilege of walking a few years ago, someone on one of those mats was feeling those same magical benefits as I was miles away in San Diego’s harbor.