International Yoga Day: Empowering Women Through Yoga

by Hardik Mehta

International Yoga Day: Complimentary Sessions

Yoga, an ancient practice with origins in India, has been embraced worldwide for its myriad benefits, ranging from physical health to mental well-being. Every year on June 21st, the world celebrates International Yoga Day, acknowledging the profound impact of yoga on individuals and communities. This year, the theme “Women Empowerment through Yoga” sheds light on how yoga can be a powerful tool in the journey towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Significance of Yoga

Yoga is not merely a form of exercise; it is a holistic practice that integrates the body, mind, and spirit. The word ‘yoga’ itself means union. Through asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, and ethical principles, yoga offers a path to achieve inner peace, strength, and harmony.

Historical Context of Women in Yoga

Historically, yoga was predominantly a male-dominated practice, with ancient texts and traditions largely focusing on men. However, over the centuries, women have increasingly embraced yoga, and today, they are at the forefront of this global movement. Women like Indra Devi, considered the first lady of yoga, have played crucial roles in bringing yoga to the West and making it accessible to everyone.

Yoga and Women’s Health

One of the most direct ways yoga empowers women is by enhancing their physical health. Women, who often juggle multiple roles, can experience various health issues such as hormonal imbalances, reproductive health problems, and stress-related ailments. Yoga offers specific benefits for these issues:

  1. Hormonal Balance: Certain yoga poses, such as the Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana), can help regulate the endocrine system, promoting hormonal balance.
  2. Reproductive Health: Yoga postures like Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) and Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) can improve reproductive health by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region and reducing menstrual discomfort.
  3. Stress Relief: Yoga’s focus on breath control and meditation can significantly reduce stress levels. Practices like Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) are particularly effective in managing stress and anxiety.

Mental and Emotional Empowerment

Yoga’s benefits extend beyond physical health to mental and emotional well-being, which are crucial for empowerment. Women often face unique mental health challenges due to societal pressures, gender biases, and various life roles. Yoga offers tools to build mental resilience and emotional strength:

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices such as mindful meditation and pranayama help in cultivating a state of present-moment awareness. This can lead to better emotional regulation and reduced anxiety.
  2. Self-Awareness and Confidence: Yoga encourages self-reflection and self-awareness. As women become more attuned to their bodies and minds, they gain confidence and a sense of empowerment. The realization that they can control their responses and manage stress effectively leads to a stronger sense of self.
  3. Community and Support: Yoga communities often provide a support network where women can share experiences and support each other. This sense of belonging and mutual support is a powerful tool for empowerment.

Economic Empowerment through Yoga

Yoga also offers economic opportunities for women. As yoga teachers, wellness coaches, and entrepreneurs in the wellness industry, women can achieve financial independence and career fulfilment. The growing popularity of yoga worldwide has opened numerous avenues for women to pursue careers in this field:

  1. Yoga Instructors: Women can train to become certified yoga instructors, offering classes in studios, gyms, or even online. This not only provides a source of income but also allows them to share the transformative benefits of yoga with others.
  2. Wellness Entrepreneurs: The wellness industry is booming, and women can capitalize on this trend by starting their own businesses. From yoga studios and wellness retreats to health coaching and yoga-inspired products, the possibilities are vast.
  3. Advocacy and Leadership: Women who have experienced the benefits of yoga can become advocates for the practice, promoting it within their communities and beyond. This leadership role further amplifies their voices and positions in society.

Stories of Empowerment

Many inspiring stories highlight how yoga has empowered women globally. One such story is that of Seane Corn, an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher known for her activism and humanitarian efforts. Through her organization, Off the Mat, Into the World, Corn has empowered countless women to use yoga as a tool for social change and personal growth.

Another remarkable story is that of Jessamyn Stanley, a body-positive yoga teacher who challenges conventional beauty standards and promotes inclusivity in yoga. Her work empowers women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds to embrace yoga and feel confident in their bodies.

Our Co-founder, Prutha Bhatt, also enhanced her life through yoga, feeling more empowered, balanced, and resilient. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of yoga.

Yoga as a Catalyst for Social Change

Beyond individual empowerment, yoga can also be a catalyst for broader social change. As more women embrace yoga, the ripple effects can lead to a more inclusive and equitable society. Yoga promotes values such as compassion, non-violence, and respect for all beings, which align with the principles of gender equality and social justice.

Practical Steps to Empower Women through Yoga

To truly harness the potential of yoga for women’s empowerment, several practical steps can be taken:

  1. Accessible Yoga Programs: Offering affordable or free yoga classes in community centres, schools, and workplaces can make yoga accessible to women from all socio-economic backgrounds.
  2. Education and Awareness: Educating women about the specific benefits of yoga for their health and well-being can encourage more women to take up the practice.
  3. Supportive Policies: Organizations and governments can support yoga initiatives that focus on women’s health and empowerment. This includes funding for yoga programs and creating supportive environments for women to practice yoga.
  4. Inclusive Practices: Yoga teachers and studios should adopt inclusive practices that welcome women of all ages, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds. This includes offering modifications for poses and creating a safe and supportive environment.
  5. Yoga as Career: Embark on a rewarding career in yoga with Sayujya Yoga’s 200-Hour Teacher Training course. This comprehensive program empowers women to become certified yoga instructors, promoting physical health, mental well-being, and financial independence. Transform your passion into a profession and inspire others through the practice of yoga.

This International Yoga Day, as we celebrate the theme of “Women Empowerment through Yoga,” let us recognize and honour the transformative power of yoga in the lives of women worldwide. Yoga is more than just a physical practice; it is a path to holistic well-being and a powerful tool for empowerment. By embracing yoga, women can enhance their physical health, build mental resilience, gain economic independence, and contribute to a more just and equitable society. As we unroll our mats on June 21st, let us do so with a commitment to empowering ourselves and each other through the timeless practice of yoga.

On the occasion of International Day of Yoga, Sayujya Yoga is excited to offer two complimentary sessions focused on empowering women through yoga. Join us on Friday, 21st June 2024, for a Meditative Yin Flow and Saturday, 22nd June 2024, for a Theme-based Vinyasa Flow & Yoga Nidra. These sessions, running from 4 pm to 5.30 pm India Time, are designed to foster inner strength, resilience, and tranquillity. Prior registration is mandatory. Embrace the power of yoga and join us in celebrating the strength and spirit of women worldwide.

About the Author

Hardik Mehta Co-founder Sayujya Yoga

Hardik Mehta

Hardik is an E-RYT 500 & YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider), Yoga Alliance, USA. He has been practicing yoga for the last 9 years. Prior to finding his true calling in Yoga, he was working with various corporates for 12 years in the Retail and eCommerce sector.