International Yoga Day: Yoga for Humanity...What Does that Mean?

For the last month, I've continued asking myself What does "Yoga for Humanity," this year's theme for Int'l Yoga Day, mean to us, positioned in Palestine and practicing yoga. 

Honestly I didn't get very far with it. Yoga is really about your personal journey, your personal experience and growth. Then I discovered the website for an amazing project called Off the Mat Into the World. 

We support people to be agents of transformational change to shift the status quo toward one that is truly sustainable and equitable for all.

This sentence has circled around in my mind ever since I first read it. Yoga has been an essential practice for me at times. Without prenatal yoga, I wouldn't have found the strength and peace for an incredible, calm home birth in water. Meditation helps me find my way back to eventual sleep through my insomnia. But as I reflect on the theme of Yoga for Humanity, I also need to find the bridge between the very personal experience one has through yoga practice and how that can connect us beyond ourselves and to the rest of humanity. 

Forgive me because this reflection is based solely on reading their website, but I understand that Off the Mat Into the World sees the inner work (our yoga practice and the tools in can provide) as part of a transformation towards critical self awareness. We can each find our groundedness to be able to become agents of change. Now for me located in Palestine, that really resonates.

It also really resonates with me, particularly, as a mother located in Palestine. Being personally grounded and taking the time for my practice grounds me to be a better, more present and patient mom--to give more of my healthier self to my children. We live in a stressful place and finding ways to self reflect and self care are essential. But also as a human who cares about social justice, I find the language and mission that Off the Mat Into the World uses to be both refreshing and necessary.

I asked several friends in Palestine this question: What does International Yoga Day's theme mean to you as a yoga practitioner located in Palestine? Yoga instructor and Straps by Sarab designer answered thus:

Awareness. Awareness of myself and my surroundings and how life under occupation weighs heavily on our overall well-being. By using my platform as a yogi, an entrepreneur, a mother, I choose to raise awareness on the power of connection through ever breath exhaled, every strap worn, ever step taken, to seek clarity in myself and my place in the clutter.

So let me leave you with this quote from their website once again as we think about what Yoga for Humanity means. We live in a world full of injustice. In Palestine, we are acutely aware of that as we exist under an illegal military occupation and struggle to understand how the international community has not only ignored the injustice, but even enabled, supported and funded the abuse of our human rights and our very ethnic cleansing.

Think about this next time you are in downward dog and choose to use your practice to reflect not only on yourself but on how you can be an agent of transformational change.

We support people to be agents of transformational change to shift the status quo toward one that is truly sustainable and equitable for all.

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