Yoga studios, instructors and practitioners around Bloomington celebrated the International Day of Yoga on Monday by offering free classes, hosting outdoor events and reflecting on the long international tradition of yoga.
The Hot Room, an Indianapolis-based yoga studio that opened a Bloomington location in March, hosted three free outdoor yoga classes at Switchyard Park to celebrate the holiday. The Hot Room also offered free indoor hot yoga classes at their studio.
“International Day of Yoga is just a special day for anyone practicing yoga to celebrate all the different forms of yoga,” The Hot Room owner Hye Jin Kalgaonkar said. “For us, it was an opportunity to bring our community together even more.”
In years past, Kalgaonkar said The Hot Room celebrated the International Day of Yoga by participating in Monumental Yoga, where thousands of people practice yoga at Monument Circle in Indianapolis. The event, which normally takes place on June 21 in order to recognize the International Day of Yoga, was postponed to September due to the pandemic.
Kalgaonkar said she chose to host International Day of Yoga events in Bloomington this year because she wants to build a community of yoga practitioners at The Hot Room’s fifth and newest location.
“It was important for me to be in a college town so that we could help individuals that are going into their college experience with the stress and anxiety and the overwhelming schedule that comes with the lifestyle change of college,” Kalgaonkar said. “It's an opportunity to help support you all.”
IU students Brooke Rance and Mikele Suman agreed that practicing yoga benefitted them both physically and mentally, helping them deal with the stress of college.
“When I sit on my mat I'm doing something for my mind, for my soul, for my body,” Rance said.
Rance said she recently completed 200 hours of training with The Hot Room to become a yoga instructor and is currently working toward her goal of graduating as a 500 hour certified yoga instructor in December.
“Being so young in such a crazy freaking world, sometimes it's like what do I do? How can I even impact one person, let alone more than that?” Rance said. “But one thing that I found that's so amazing about the practice of yoga is you can transform your life while you're transforming others. That’s what made me want to get into instructing.”
Rance first turned to yoga after multiple mental health professionals recommended it. Rance said she is now more mindful of her daily life and accepting of challenges because of yoga.
Yoga improved Suman’s mental health by giving her a chance to get off her phone and focus on herself, she said. Suman said the biggest benefit of yoga is learning how to breathe because whenever she is anxious she uses breathing techniques she learned from yoga.
“It’s where I'm able to be connected kind of mentally, physically, spiritually, with everything around me,” Suman said. “It's just like a really grounding practice for me, where I'm able to kind of feel the most at peace.”
International Yoga Day is a day to encourage new people to try yoga but also to recognize the people and cultures that created yoga, Rance said.
Kalgaonkar said yoga is viewed as more of a holistic health practice than a trendy workout in many parts of the world, with doctors in India prescribing certain yoga postures in order to ease patients’ pain.
“It's really important to celebrate the origins of yoga because in the Western world people have kind of changed it into a cool workout,” Kalgaonkar said. “There's such a deep, deep history behind this practice. It's an honor to celebrate it.”
Yoga is more than being flexible, it’s working to better yourself– mentally as well as physically, Kalgaonkar said.
“The more people practice yoga and mindfulness and meditation, I believe the better our world will be,” Kalgaonkar said.
Editor’s note: The Hot Room Bloomington will offer a free class to anyone who mentions this article.