by Liza Bertini
It's that time of the year again when the world takes a collective deep breath and celebrates International Day of Peace on September 21st. In 1982, the United Nations General Assembly officially named September 21 as the International Day of Peace to “strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.”
Each year this day provides a wonderful opportunity for yoga teachers to inspire their students and communities to embrace peace in their lives and wish it for others and the world. As yoga teachers and leaders in our communities, we are well-positioned to promote and celebrate this day to remind and encourage others to seek and spread peace.
Here are five meaningful ways for yoga teachers to incorporate reverence for International Day of Peace into their classes and offerings.
Special Peaceful Practice
Organize a special yoga class or session on September 21st with a focus on peace and mindfulness. Begin the class with a brief introduction about the significance of the day and how yoga can be a powerful tool for cultivating inner and collective peace. Incorporate gentle and restorative asana, pranayama practices that encourage slowing down and pausing, mindfulness, and presence.
Encourage your students to set personal intentions for peace during this class, whether it's finding peace within themselves, fostering peaceful relationships, or supporting global peace initiatives. Emphasize the importance of carrying this sense of inner peace with them beyond the yoga mat and into their daily lives.
Celebrate with Sun Salutations
Host a special class focusing on Sun Salutations. Begin by explaining the significance of Sun Salutation sequencing, which symbolizes the cycle of life, a new day, and the sun's energy. Emphasize that just as the sun rises each day, we have the opportunity to begin anew with compassion and open hearts.
Encourage participants to focus on sending out waves of peace and positivity with each Sun Salutation repetition, visualizing their energy spreading outward to the world. Sit in meditation and then try opening up the space for discussion and sharing to create a sense of community and unity.
Meditation for Peace
Consider organizing a guided meditation or Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation online or in person specifically dedicated to cultivating peace. During the meditation, lead your students through a journey of self-reflection and visualization, focusing on peace, healing, and compassion.
Encourage them to send out positive intentions for peace, not just in their own lives but to the entire world. Remind them that individual acts of peace can collectively make a significant impact on the world's overall state of peace.
Yoga for a Cause
Connect yoga practice with a charitable cause that supports peace-related initiatives. You could organize a charity yoga class, with the proceeds going to organizations that work towards conflict resolution, education for peace, or humanitarian efforts in regions affected by conflict. Use this opportunity to educate your students about the importance of such initiatives and how their contributions can make a difference.
Highlight the interconnectedness of yoga and global peace, emphasizing that the principles of non-violence, compassion, and unity are integral to both yoga philosophy and the pursuit of world peace.
Acts of Kindness Challenge
Initiate an "Acts of Kindness" campaign that encourages your students or social media community to perform small, thoughtful acts of kindness throughout the day. Offer simple suggestions like smiling at a stranger, offering a helping hand, or donating to a local charity. Encourage participants to share their experiences and reflections on how these acts of kindness contributed to a more peaceful day. Ask them to use a fun hashtag like #YogaKindnessChallenge
Remind your students that peace begins with individual actions and that each gesture of kindness ripples out to create a more peaceful world.
DIY Peace Mandalas
Tap into your creative side and invite your students to join you in a DIY Peace Mandala event. Provide colorful chalk, colored sand, flowers, sticks, leaves, etc. to create an outdoor mandala-making extravaganza. Mandalas are not only beautiful but also meditative to create. They symbolize the unity and interconnectedness we all share, just like yoga and peace.
As yoga teachers, you have the unique opportunity to inspire and guide your students on their journey towards inner and outer peace. International Day of Peace serves as a beautiful reminder of the interconnectedness of yoga and global harmony. By celebrating this day in thoughtful and meaningful ways, you can empower your students to embrace peace not just on September 21st but throughout the year, fostering a more peaceful and compassionate world one yogi at a time.