By Forrest Brown, CNN
Do the challenges of the modern world and the effects of the pandemic have you tied up in knots? Maybe an ancient practice can give you some relief.
For thousands of years, people have turned to yoga to feel more limber, release stress and rejuvenate their overall physical and mental health.
The International Day of Yoga — which is on Tuesday, June 21 — could be the day that jump-starts a healthy new habit.
The day has been designated by the United Nations, and this year’s theme is “Yoga for humanity,” with an emphasis on “promoting sustainable lifestyle in harmony with planet Earth.”
The UN says on its website that the “essence of yoga is balance — not just balance within the body or that between the mind and the body, but also balance in the human relationship with the world. Yoga emphasizes the values of mindfulness, moderation, discipline and perseverance.”
Originating in ancient India, yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice, the UN says.
If you happen to be in New York City for the next week and a half, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations is having “The World of Yoga” exhibition at the UN Delegates’ entrance from June 21 to July 1.
In Times Square, you can take advantage of all the daylight with free solstice yoga classes starting at 7:30 a.m. ET and ending at 8:30 p.m. ET. Register in advance, or if you can’t make it, join via streaming on the website of the Times Square Alliance, which is presenting the event.
Meanwhile, CNN invites you to look back at some of our yoga coverage:
5-minute morning yoga routine
CNN fitness contributor Stephanie Mansour created this five-minute yoga routine to loosen up your body and start your day off feeling calm, balanced and positive.
“As a certified yoga instructor for over a decade, I encourage my clients to engage in a daily yoga practice (preferably in the morning) to get the blood flowing, boost energy and invigorate the senses,” she wrote.
“These poses are strategically included because they open up the body physically, improve blood flow to the vital organs and stretch the front, back and sides of the body in a short amount of time.
“Practice all of these poses with the pranayama breath: Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. Breathe slowly and mindfully, and sync your breath with your movements.”
4 yoga moves before bed
You started the day off right with yoga. Another short session with four yoga moves can get you ready for a good night’s sleep.
“Too often, sleep eludes us because of the common aches and pains that make it difficult to fall asleep or wake us up in the night,” said CNN contributor Dana Santas, a breathing, mobility and mind-body coach in professional sports.
“These exercises address those areas where we tend to feel that type of pain and tension.”
Watch the video at the top of this story to release tension in your lower back, hips and glutes.
Yoga tips from an NFL star
Finally, you might not think of rough ‘n’ rugged NFL stars when you think of yoga. But Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Mike Daniels has found that yoga works for him. Santas talked with Daniels about how he developed the habit.
“I started doing yoga after my fourth season in the NFL, going into my fourth year. I was feeling really stiff, and one of my teammates said I needed to start practicing yoga. He passed along the instructor’s number and, after the first session, I immediately saw results.
“When I finished, it was like a body-awakening experience,” he said.
Perhaps the words of one of yoga’s top practitioners, the late B.K.S. Iyengar will inspire you:
“Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”
Correction: A previous version of this story listed the wrong date for the International Day of Yoga.
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