For fourteen years now, September has been officially dedicated to raising awareness about the practice of yoga and its many benefits. When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services first designated National Yoga Awareness Month in 2008, it sparked national interest that has steadily grown into an international movement. Now there are abundant programs around the world offering yoga education, as well as inspiration and encouragement to adopt a healthier lifestyle with yoga as a core component.
While the yoga we teach at Change Your Energy
is based on ancient Korean mindbody traditions (more on that in a moment), we acknowledge and give honor to the Indian cultural origins of the word yoga and its associated practices.
What does yoga mean?
The word yoga comes from modern Indo-Aryan Sanskrit, and is derived from the root yuj
, meaning to yoke
, join, bind or unite
. It’s often said that the union referred to in yoga is a union of the body, mind and spirit. To unpack it even further, we can also think of it as: union of the lower self and the higher self; the individual with the whole of humanity; the human with the divine; and the union of all of existence.
The Many Forms of Yoga
The Bhagavad Gita
, one of the most sacred texts of India, describes the need for multiple different forms. The form most often seen in the West is Hatha yoga, union through breathing, postures, and meditation. But there’s also: Karma yoga, union through action and service; Bhakti yoga, union through divine devotion and worship; Raja yoga, union through meditation and focus; and more.
So yoga is not only one thing. The true depth and breadth of yoga is profound, and for anyone seeking an expanded sense of self and connection to life, it’s absolutely a worthwhile path.
What is Body & Brain Yoga?
Change Your Energy founder Ilchi Lee developed a unique form of yoga based on ancient body-mind-energy practices from his native South Korea. It’s called Body & Brain Yoga, and its goal is to open the energy channels and energy centers in the body so that vital energy — called ki
in Korean — flows freely and in a balanced way.
According to traditional East Asian medicine, healthy energy flow in the body is the foundation of all wellness in mind, body and spirit. It says, for example, that energy runs through the body along specific pathways called meridians
. When your meridians are open rather than blocked, you experience greater wellbeing and vitality.
In Body & Brain Yoga, we achieve healthy, balanced states through mindful stretching, joint rotation, vibration exercises, breathing exercises, and energy-sensing meditation.
We have a saying, “where the mind goes, energy flows.” It’s a reminder that where you put your focus matters, and by bringing your awareness into the body, you can create even better results from your time spent doing yoga.
One of the most beautiful things about yoga is that when you practice with consistency and a sincere desire, you not only feel better, but you have easier access to your higher self — the part of you that is connected to all of life.
With that in mind, here are 7 ways to celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month:
If you’d like to dive deeper in your practice, the Change Your Energy premium membership offers access to weekly live classes plus hundreds of courses and webinars on topics ranging from meditation, yoga and tai chi, to chakras, meridians, longevity and enlightened living. Learn about it here.
- 1. Teach someone something you know about yoga that has helped you. Practice generosity and service by sharing your wisdom with others.
- 2. Connect to the natural world. Doing yoga or meditation in nature taps you into the earth’s vital energy for a deeper experience.
- 3. Learn a new way to quiet your mind. One of our favorites is Jigam, a type of meditation where you focus on feeling energy in your hands and body.
- 4. Recommit to your practice. Just like renewing marriage vows can deepen a partnership, a simple ritual or intention to recommit to your yoga practice can be a powerful move.
- 5. Do mini-yoga breaks throughout the day. Some of our favorites that you can do in only a few minutes are toe tapping, meridian stretching, and plate balancing exercise.
- 6. Learn about the spiritual aspects of yoga. If you’ve never explored the spiritual side of yoga, consider giving it a try by reading ancient texts or books about yoga and spirituality.
- 7. Refresh or create your yoga space. It’s much easier to practice when you have a nice space that’s ready-to-go. If you don’t have much room, even a dedicated basket for your yoga props is a nice way to give your practice some love.