On Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, LMU’s Graduate Yoga Studies program held its 8th annual Yoga Day! This free, all-day event offered over fifteen individual workshops that focused on the theme “Yoga for Every Body,” sharing the many facets of Yoga with workshops on Yoga philosophy, pranayama (breathing techniques), āsana (postural yoga), Yoga Therapy, Meditation and Social Justice.
This year hundreds of Los Angeles yoga-enthusiasts from all walks of life made their way to LMU’s campus to participate. Yoga Day kicked off with a welcome given by Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa-Baker, acting director of the graduate yoga studies program, who asked for a moment of silence to acknowledge the Tongva/Gabriellino people indigenous to this land and to pray for all life affected by our environmental crisis. She acknowledged the symbiosis between yoga and LMU’s Jesuit mission to educate the whole person, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally, as well as their deep commitment to service and the promotion of justice. Due to this resonance of mission, Professor Christopher Key Chapple created the first and only Graduate Yoga Studies program in the US here at LMU in 2013. The yoga studies faculty, staff and students are dedicated to this mission – recognizing that the ethics of yoga require a commitment to preparing our minds and bodies to act consciously in the world to serve others. The master’s program consists of classes on Sanskrit, Yoga Therapy, Yoga Philosophy, History of Modern Yoga, Comparative Mysticism and the four Dharmic Traditions (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism).
At this year’s Yoga Day, the first session started with a workshop, discussion panel and book launch hosted by author, yogi and founder of Accessible Yoga, Jivana Heyman (C-IAYT, E-RYT 500). Accessible Yoga is about making Yoga accessible and inclusive for every body, age, race, gender, religion, culture, language, socio-economic background and state of health. For Jivana, the purpose is “sharing esoteric and complex teaching in a readily accessible way, and applying the ancient teachings of Yoga to our day-to-day lives.” The book launch and class featured a panel discussion with Jivana and other Accessible Yoga teachers as well as a postural class thoughtfully designed so that students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds could participate.
After a full day of practicing a variety of yoga styles and techniques, learning about yoga philosophy and mindfulness practices, enjoying kombucha and açaí bowls, and a t-shirt raffle, participants assembled for one last group gathering—a kirtan performance led by Govind Das and Radha of Santa Monica’s Bhakti Yoga Shala accompanied by Arjuna O’Neal on the mridanga drum. For those unfamiliar, “kirtan” is the Sanskrit word for “praise,” and a kirtan performance is a yoga practice using mantra and music as an expression of devotion and prayer. While on stage leading mantra, Govind Das makes it clear that kirtan is not a performance for entertainment— it is intended to be a group activity that joins together everyone in the room in “joyful, open-hearted, meditative, and communal” song and dance. It was a lovely way to conclude an exciting and transformative day, which left community members with a sense of peace.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for a very successful Yoga Day this year! LMU’s Masters in Yoga Studies program is looking forward to hosting another amazing Yoga Day next year!
For a full list of 2019 classes and teachers and to sign-up for Yoga Day 2020 updates and announcements, please visit the Yoga Day website.