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JUN 21, 2024

Discover the Power of Yoga: Celebrating International Day of Yoga

Learn about the physical and mental benefits of yoga, as well as moves to get you started, and advanced techniques.

Read time: 12 minutes

Today is International Day of Yoga – unless you’re reading this on any other day that isn’t June 21st - in which case, “Hello, how’s the future?”

One of the best aspects of yoga is its accessibility. The entry level is quite simple: you don't need to be an athlete, exceptionally flexible, or have any prior experience to start. Yoga is for everyone, regardless of age, body type, or fitness level. All you need is a little space, some comfortable clothing, and the willingness to try.

So, whether you're a seasoned yogi or a complete beginner, this day is a reminder of the peace and balance yoga can bring to our lives. But what makes yoga so special? And more importantly, how can you start your yoga journey? Let’s get into it.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

Improves Flexibility

Yoga is renowned for its ability to enhance flexibility. Each pose stretches and lengthens different muscle groups, gradually increasing the range of motion in your joints. Over time, regular practice helps to loosen tight muscles, making everyday movements easier and reducing the risk of injuries.

Strengthens Muscles

Many yoga poses are weight-bearing, which means they require you to support your own body weight. This not only builds muscle strength but also improves muscle tone. Poses like Plank, Warrior, and Downward Facing Dog engage various muscle groups, leading to a stronger, more toned physique.

Enhances Balance

Yoga poses often require you to balance on one foot or hold challenging positions, which improves your overall stability and coordination. This is particularly beneficial for older adults, as good balance can prevent falls and enhance mobility.

Boosts Circulation

The combination of physical postures and breathing exercises in yoga improves circulation, ensuring that oxygen-rich blood reaches your muscles and organs. Better circulation can lead to healthier skin, improved organ function, and quicker recovery from injuries.

Promotes Joint Health

Yoga involves moving your joints through their full range of motion, which helps to keep them healthy. This movement can increase the flow of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, reducing stiffness and alleviating symptoms of arthritis.

Increases Lung Capacity

Breathing exercises, or pranayama, are a core component of yoga. These techniques teach you to take deep, full breaths, increasing your lung capacity and improving your respiratory function. Enhanced lung capacity can benefit athletes, singers, and anyone looking to improve their overall endurance.

Aids Digestion

Certain yoga poses, such as twists and forward bends, can stimulate digestion by massaging the internal organs and increasing blood flow to the digestive tract. This can help alleviate constipation, bloating, and other gastrointestinal issues, promoting better overall digestive health.

Mental Benefits of Yoga

Reduces Stress

Yoga is a powerful tool for stress management. The combination of physical movement, deep breathing, and meditation helps lower cortisol levels, the body's primary stress hormone. Regular practice can lead to a calmer mind and a more relaxed state of being.

Improves Concentration

The focus required during yoga practice enhances mental clarity and concentration. Whether you’re holding a challenging pose or focusing on your breath, yoga trains your mind to stay present. This can translate to improved concentration in daily tasks and better performance at work or school.

Promotes Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment, and yoga naturally encourages this. By focusing on your breath and body movements, you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This mindfulness can extend beyond the mat, helping you navigate life with greater ease and awareness.

Enhances Mood

Regular yoga practice can have a profound effect on your mood. It increases the levels of serotonin, the hormone associated with happiness, while decreasing the levels of cortisol. This biochemical shift can lead to an overall sense of well-being and a more positive outlook on life.

Improves Sleep

Yoga can help regulate your sleep patterns. The physical exertion of yoga can make you more physically tired, while the relaxation techniques can help calm your mind. Together, these effects can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep, leaving you more refreshed and energized.

Boosts Self-Esteem

As you progress in your yoga practice, you become more aware of your body and its capabilities. This heightened self-awareness can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence. Achieving new poses and overcoming challenges on the mat can translate to a greater sense of accomplishment and self-worth in other areas of your life.

Encourages a Positive Outlook

The meditative and mindful aspects of yoga encourage a positive outlook on life. By regularly engaging in practices that reduce stress and promote relaxation, you cultivate a more optimistic mindset. This can help you cope better with life's challenges and maintain a more positive attitude.

Starter Exercises for Introductory Level Yoga

Here are some basic poses to get you started:

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)


Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet and engage your thighs. Lift your chest and broaden your collarbones. Keep your head in line with your spine and gaze forward.


Improves posture and balance, and helps you focus on your breathing.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)


Start on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes and lift your hips toward the ceiling, forming an inverted V shape. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart. Press through your hands and heels.


Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and shoulders, and strengthens the arms and legs.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)


Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and knees apart. Sit back on your heels and extend your arms forward, lowering your chest to the floor. Rest your forehead on the ground.


Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles, and promotes relaxation.

Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)


Start on your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back (Cow Pose), lifting your tailbone and head. Exhale as you round your spine (Cat Pose), tucking your chin to your chest.


Increases flexibility of the spine and warms up the body.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)


Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and hinge at your hips to reach for your feet. Keep your spine long and avoid rounding your back.


Stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Advanced Techniques for Experienced Yogis

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you might want to try some more advanced poses:

Crow Pose (Bakasana)


Start in a squat position with your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Place your knees on your upper arms and slowly shift your weight forward, lifting your feet off the ground. Balance on your hands.


Strengthens the arms, wrists, and abdominal muscles, and improves balance.

Headstand (Sirsasana)


Start on your hands and knees. Place your forearms on the ground, interlace your fingers, and position your head between your hands. Lift your hips and walk your feet toward your head. Slowly lift your legs overhead, keeping your core engaged.


Strengthens the shoulders, arms, and core, and improves circulation.

Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)


Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place your hands beside your ears, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Press into your hands and feet to lift your hips and chest off the ground, forming an arch.


Stretches the chest, shoulders, and hip flexors, and strengthens the back and legs.

Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)


Start in a squat position. Place your hands on the ground in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Lift your hips and bring your legs around your arms, straightening them out to the sides. Balance on your hands.


Strengthens the arms, wrists, and core, and improves balance and flexibility.

King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)


Start in Downward Facing Dog. Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist, extending your left leg back. Lower your hips to the ground. Bend your left knee and reach back with your left hand to grab your foot. Hold and repeat on the other side.


Deeply stretches the hip flexors, quadriceps, and shoulders, and improves posture.

Essential Equipment for Yoga

While yoga can be practiced with minimal equipment, here are some items that can enhance your experience:

  1. Yoga Mat: A non-slip mat provides cushioning and stability for your poses.
  2. Yoga Blocks: These help in maintaining proper alignment and making poses more accessible.
  3. Yoga Strap: Useful for deepening stretches and improving flexibility.
  4. Bolster: Provides support in restorative poses and helps with relaxation.
  5. Yoga Towel: Keeps you dry and prevents slipping during sweaty sessions.
  6. Comfortable Clothing: Wear breathable, stretchy clothes that allow full range of motion.
  7. Water Bottle: Stay hydrated before, during, and after your practice.

We’ve gotta be grateful for things like International Day of Yoga as they help remind us how yoga can be a wonderful journey of self-discovery and wellness. And whether you’re just starting or looking to deepen your practice, there’s always something new to learn and experience. So, roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and ease yourself into a new pose. And hold. Hold. And relax.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.


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