Yoga and movement to support and restore – International Day of Yoga 2023
Yoga is practiced by many across the world, and 21 June is the International Day of Yoga, as proclaimed by the United Nations. To highlight this day, we’ve been speaking with Catie, previously a lawyer, who has been coaching yoga since 2008. She found yoga highly beneficial during the arbitrary detainment of her father. Here, she hopes to share the transformative effects that yoga can have for people navigating the extreme stress of having a loved-one taken hostage.
When people are living through intense anxiety, such as having a loved one taken hostage, it can be challenging to have space amongst the emotions and mental ruminations of worry. But this is precisely the time to look after yourself and to do activities which create a sense of support and restoration. Yoga can be a way to help with this.
There is much research on the benefits of physical movement, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and some supportive meditative practice generally, including when you are feeling overwhelmed. They support physical, mental, and emotional stability.
When you are under stress your breathing patterns can change. Some kind of yoga or meditation can be transformational. It can help relax and alter disturbing thought patterns, help create different perspectives, and help see things in a new or different way.
I practised regularly throughout our family’s ordeals. I had the sense that when someone you love is held against their will, they wouldn’t want the rest of the family to be tortured 24 hours a day by their situation but to have hope that there will come a point when they are released. When that time comes it feels very important for them to be released into a happy, loving, kind, peaceful and calm environment with appreciation of the beauty of life and excellence – not a stressed one.
Research shows that yoga gives space to allow emotions and thoughts to come and to experience them in a safe way – without knee-jerk reactions – while developing strength and sensitivity in your body, heart, and lungs.
You can start small. You don’t need a mat or expensive equipment, just five to ten minutes, ideally each day, to take time to practise yoga for you. The more often you can commit to it, even if you don’t feel like it, it eventually becomes a part of your routine – like brushing your teeth!
Having been through a long painful separation from my dad, I deeply understand how challenging it can be, and I hope that someone – in a similarly tough situation – may be moved to take up yoga and some form of movement for themselves.
As one of the forefathers of yoga, BKS Iyengar, said: “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
The United Nation’s International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of yoga.
Find out more here: https://www.un.org/en/observances/yoga-day
Try Catie’s video here.
Disclaimer: Yoga is for everyone. However, when online, it is up to the individual to assess whether they are ready for the class that they have chosen. If in doubt, please seek medical advice.