As I came up from the Tube, it was the first thing I saw … a yoga mat.
A pink yoga mat, carefully rolled up and strung across a woman’s back as she walked with purpose across the road.
Then I noticed a second one and a third … and I realised as I looked around at 8am on Sunday in central London, that nearly everyone was carrying one …
I stopped with the other mat carriers at a bus stop and caught a lady’s eye … she smiled at me in the same way that runners do when they cross paths on the street … a knowing smile and the subtle nod that mean you’re in ‘the club’… a smile that this particularly day, meant ‘you’re a yogi too’.
21st June 2015 was U.N International Yoga Day and here I was in London to represent Azul as one of the sponsors of the first ever celebration event at Alexandra Palace. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had asked the world’s leaders to adopt an International Yoga Day, saying that by changing lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Addressing the 193-member UN General Assembly in United Nations. Modi said “Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day,” noting that yoga is “an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition”, he said: “It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”
When Jamie and Karissa had asked me if I’d like to leave Fuerteventura for a few days in London to take part in the event, I replied, with typical enthusiasm, ‘why not!’… But as I headed to the venue that day, it struck me that I really had no idea what to expect … I love yoga and in many ways it has changed my life, but how many
people would really be getting up early on a blustery Sunday morning to roll out their yoga mats in what is essentially a huge field in north London?!
As I walked into Alexandra Palace, falling into step with those around me, you could sense a real energy and buzz about the crowd – people were seemingly connected by the day and it hadn’t even started yet. I started to feel excited and walk a bit faster … Then I turned the corner into the event and I had my answer – A LOT!
I was entirely surprised to see hundreds of people already there and getting their yoga on at a huge main stage in the centre of the arena. Surrounding this were smaller groups of yogis in different teaching areas and at stands all round the venue … it was barely 8.15am.
Heading over to Azul’s stand to take a few moments before the event launched in full swing, I suddenly noticed a smiling face move towards me across the field. ‘Liz, Liz!’ I heard and there in front of me was Bess, one of our lovely Lotus Lodge guests! Giving me a huge hug, she explained how she had travelled all the way from Cornwall to take part in the day!
This very much set the tone for the day … So many Azul guests and friends came to say hello. They had travelled far across the UK from places such as Sheffield and south Wales – many to share the celebration with new found friends they had met on retreat. For me this really demonstrated the power of the event and I was bowled over by everyone’s kindness as they kept coming back to check I was ok, bring me drinks and food and even help on the stand when it was busy!
Undoubtedly another highlight of the day was all the incredible yoga classes – there was truly something for everyone and I was very honoured to witness two fantastic teachers, and part of the Azul Family – David Sye and Andrea Everingham, rocking IYD!
I always love Andrea’s Jivamukti classes with their infectious energy and fun, but to see hundreds of yogis in a field moving as one was truly amazing. Then David Sye and his YogaBeats concept hit the stage and everyone was dancing like it was a massive yoga party! Simply brilliant and made me incredibly excited for his week in Fuerteventura this November.
Throughout the day I spoke to hundreds and hundreds of people from all walks of life about yoga and the event and the thing that really struck me the most was that everyone was just very happy to be there and a share, in the purest sense of the word, an international day of yoga, irrespective of their circumstances or background.
21st June 2015 was many things to many people … It was a Sunday, it was Father’s Day, it was the summer solstice and with the support of world leaders it was International Yoga Day …
“Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being… by changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.”
As the yoga mats walked away from Alexandra Palace late on that evening … this yogi was proud to be a part of it.