Celebrating International Yoga Day – Course and Conference Office


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Celebrating International Yoga Day

Every year on June 21, millions of people around the world come together to celebrate International Yoga Day. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, this day highlights the profound physical and mental benefits of practicing yoga. Originating from ancient India, yoga has evolved over millennia, becoming a global phenomenon that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries.

Being part of a scientific organisation, naturally we were curious about the science behind yoga and the researched evidence of its benefits.

Physical benefits:

🧘 Strength and flexibility

Yoga incorporates a variety of postures, called asanas, that promote strength and flexibility. Research has shown that regular practice can significantly improve muscle tone, flexibility, and overall physical fitness. Serveral studies found that participants who practiced yoga for just ten  weeks experienced notable improvements in both flexibility and strength.

🧘 Cardiovascular health

The practice of yoga has been linked to improved cardiovascular health. Yoga postures, combined with breath control (pranayama), can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. The National Institute of Health in the USA recently categorized Yoga as a complementary and alternative medicine technique.  It is suggested that Yoga may serve as an effective intervention for heart health.

Mental health benefits:

🧘 Stress reduction

One of the most well-known benefits of yoga is its ability to reduce stress. Yoga promotes relaxation through the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest functions. According to a study published in the Feburary issue of Stress & Health1, individuals who practiced yoga reported significant reductions in stress levels compared to those who did not engage in yoga.

🧘 Anxiety and depression

Yoga’s impact on mental health extends to the alleviation of anxiety and depression. By combining physical movement, breathing exercises, and meditation, yoga helps to balance neurotransmitters and hormones associated with mood regulation. In patients with certain neurodegenerative diseases, Yoga has possible beneficial effects on memory, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Yoga enhances mental wellness in those with mental illness and healthy individuals. It significantly increased psychological well-being and positive mental health among healthy individuals compared to no intervention, according to a systematic review of 17 randomized controlled trial (RCTs)2

Cognitive function:

🧘 Enhancing brain function

Yoga has also been shown to enhance cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function. Regular practice is associated with increased grey matter volume in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory. Several studies found that people  who practiced yoga showed improvements in cognitive functions, suggesting that yoga may have protective effects against cognitive decline.

The International Yoga Day is not just a celebration of an ancient practice; it is a recognition of yoga’s enduring relevance and transformative power. The scientific research supporting the benefits of yoga continues to grow, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a beginner, yoga offers a path to improved health, well-being, and inner peace.

At EMBL Events we are very aware of those benefits and we offer a dedicated room for yoga, meditation, or prayer behind the auditorium in the Advanced Training Centre for participants of symposia, conferences and workshops.
See here the list of our upcoming events https://www.embl.org/events/

Yoga is a popular practice at EMBL and many of our staff members enjoy the positive impact it has on our lives. There is a yoga class on campus every Monday which all employees can benefit from.

Now, grab your mat and let’s start stretching!


1: Psychology Today web article

2: Hendriks T, de Jong J, and Cramer H. The effects of yoga on positive mental health among healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med, 2017; 23: 505–517.