Yoga Day Crosses Religious Boundaries
Health and Wellness

Yoga Day Crosses Religious Boundaries

The age-old practice brings various ethnicities together to enhance flexibility and peace of mind.

Patrice Worthy

Patrice Worthy is a contributor at the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Volunteers participate in a past International Day of Yoga at the Indian Consulate in Sandy Springs.
Volunteers participate in a past International Day of Yoga at the Indian Consulate in Sandy Springs.

The Consulate General of India and International Day of Yoga Atlanta are celebrating the International Day of Yoga with two events Sunday, June 25.

Ganapathy Subramanian, the public relations director for IDY Atlanta, said that although yoga is associated with the Hindu religion, anyone may participate.

“Yoga crosses all religions and ethnicities,” Subramanian said. “The way I see it, yoga is good for physical and health benefits.”

Barbara LeNoble, the executive director of the Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah, recently earned certification as a yoga instructor. A breast cancer survivor, she began practicing yoga because her doctor thought it would be beneficial to her recovery.

Yoga is often used to help people focus and find calm. The grounding effect has a major impact on those who practice yoga, LeNoble said. “Equally important to establishing poses is establishing a state of mind where you’re calming down and you can turn down the volume.”

Yoga’s mantras help reduce anxiety and give most people a better outlook on life, she said. The physiological results also have given her a greater understanding of her own body.

“It helps you with flexibility, and you get to know your own body and the lumps and bumps you have,” LeNoble said. “If you go to an intense session, within three or four hours you’re going to take a nap. It definitely helped me sleep better.”

The practice of yoga involves stretching, balancing, controlling breathing and meditating, all of which aid in weight loss and toning. Rajan Vedak, the secretary of International Day of Yoga Atlanta, said the practice can be traced back to India more than 5,000 years ago.

This chart shows some of the basic yoga positions.

The United Nations made the International Day of Yoga official in 2014, and 173 countries are participating with events on or around June 21, the day of the summer solstice.

The Indian Consulate, which is on Glenridge Drive in Sandy Springs, is sponsoring an event at 7 a.m. Sunday, June 25, at Heritage Sandy Springs Park at 6110 Blue Stone Road with more than 20 yoga organizations. Other sponsors include Kroger, which is providing water, and the Fresh Market, which is providing apples.

Yoga trainers will guide participants through simple poses and talk about key aspects of the discipline.

At 6 p.m. June 21, the Indian Consulate hosted a workshop on different aspects of yoga, Vedi and Sanskrit. Seminars on traditional Indian medicine, nature and guided yoga sessions are among the planned activities.

IDY Atlanta expects 1,300 to 1,800 yogis, or people who practice yoga, including Louise Blais, Canada’s consul general, who has done yoga for years.

The number of people who attend such events is a testament to the powerful results of yoga, Vedak said.

“Yoga brings peace of mind and body. It has gained so much popularity because of its proven results,” he said. “When people leave, they will realize the importance of following yoga practices.”

The aim of the International Day of Yoga is to spread awareness of yoga and how it adds balance to life, Vedak said.

His daughter Sonali Rao began practicing yoga when she was looking for a way to shed baby weight, and she’s surprised at how effective yoga has been.

“I was doing Pilates, and then we began incorporating yoga into the training,” Rao said. “I’m so much stronger and leaner than I have ever been in any part of my adult life.”

Outside the spiritual practices of yoga, such as meditation, Rao said the discipline has helped her focus and become stronger, two things she did not expect. Rao, who holds a master’s from Georgia State in industrial engineering, practices yoga three to five times a week with a trainer at home in South Korea, where she said yoga has gained a large following.

“I think it really gives you peace of mind. I can disconnect better and focus on what I’m doing,” Rao said. “The fitness level I have today wasn’t part of the agenda. I’m quite strong now, and the strength is a huge bonus I wasn’t anticipating.”

What: International Day of Yoga

When: 7 a.m. Sunday, June 25

Where: Heritage Sandy Springs, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs


Cost: Free

Correction: This article originally said the Indian Consulate was hosted a program the evening of June 25 in addition to the event at Heritage Sandy Springs that morning, but the program at the consulate took place June 21.

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