Yoga Listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

Image result for unesco

The ancient practice of yoga is now listed as one of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. In 2014, UNESCO’s committee for safeguarding listed practices voted unanimously for India’s proposal to add yoga. Yoga is now OFFICIALLY an international heritage and treasure…as if yogi’s really needed an official notice.

So what does this mean?

The main reason for creating the list is to highlight cultural contributions and heritages present around the world. By creating this list, UNESCO is essentially fostering understanding between cultures, highlighting the great contributions they have made to societies and cultural progress.

As quoted from the UNESCO website:

“Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world.”

Essentially, this list is a means to preserve cultural practices. UNESCO is not only highlighting yoga as a cultural contribution to the world, but it’s also creating a means to safeguard the practice from cultural elimination. Apparently, UNESCO may offer technical or financial support to communities who may be struggling to protect such ancient practices. This is still something to be seen happen or confirmed by UNESCO.

Ultimately, the addition to yoga to UNESCO’s list of cultural contributions helps us further the use of its traditions not only for physical exercise, but for overall health and healing. It also gives yogis an even better response when asked, why yoga?

For a complete 2016 additions to the list of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, click here.

Image result for yoga

Trauma-Informed Yoga

“Trauma-Informed” is another buzz word going around these days. What it means to be trauma-informed isn’t always clear though. How to become trauma-informed is even more unclear.

In the realm of yoga, being trauma-informed seems natural. Sadly, it’s not always the case. Often the things we, as yoga teachers, try to do to assist the practicing yogi may in fact cause the trauma to resurface and may even lead to re-traumatization. Something as simple as moving someone’s hand can be the difference between a very gentle stretch and an anxiety inducing movement.

Many organizations are offering trauma-informed yoga teacher trainings. While the full 200 hour teacher training may not be completely trauma informed, weekend workshops and classes often incorporate or emphasize techniques necessary to work with traumatized and vulnerable populations.

One such organization is Street Yoga. This organization, based in the state of Washington, provides trauma-informed yoga classes to at-risk youth. This organization also travels around the world to provide trauma-informed yoga teacher training workshops to allow for vulnerable populations to have access to yoga. Yoga can teach many coping skills, allowing traumatized individuals to cope and move through their trauma.


Some key examples to being a trauma-informed yoga teacher includes:

-Minimal physical adjustments

-Reducing the use of vulnerable poses (like child’s pose)

-Minimal use of difficult or exotic poses (like headstands)

-Providing safe space for sharing

-Incorporating meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and asanas (physical yoga poses)

Yoga is being used as a means for individuals to deal with trauma. Many UN Peacekeepers have used yogic techniques to not only deal with the work they do on a daily basis, but teaching these techniques to the refugees to help them deal with their own realities. Something as simple as a deep breath can help pause a stressful moment and allow for space and time to process and move through it.

While yoga won’t solve or fix any problems or trauma, yoga can provide tools to process and deal with situations in an effective way.

For more information on Street Yoga, check out their website:

Yoga for 12 Step Recovery

Addiction has gotten a lot of attention recently, as the Surgeon General and other political figures have put a spotlight on how addiction does not discriminate, how any individual can become addicted to substances. Recent deaths, including that of Prince, have also brought addiction to the public’s attention, calling into question medical practices for dealing with pain.

Some addictions do begin with a truly well-meaning prescription for pain, whether it is pain from an injury or pain from surgery. Other addictions begin with experimentation or boredom.

Regardless of how it begins, addiction has the power to ruin anyone’s life. BUT, with treatment and support, one can break through the bonds of addiction and come out on the side of recovery, come through with the tools necessary to rebuild a potentially shattered life.

Many of these tools are scientifically based. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, medication assisted treatment, and 12-step programs have all been scientifically proven to have results in improving the quality of life for those in recovery. These evidence based practices have truly been life changing for many.

A relatively new supplemental treatment is also making waves in the recovery arena. Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR) is a combined group meeting and yoga practice session using the tools of the 12 Step method combined with the tools of yoga to help individuals face their addictions as well as the behaviors and thoughts which may have led to the addictive behavior. Guided by the theme “the issues live in the tissues”, this methodology uses the physical practice to help release underlying trauma and thoughts, ingrained in the individual’s core which may have resulted in addiction. Each Y12SR meeting combines the principles of asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (yogic breath), and meditation. The meetings also include a group sharing portion.

Y12SR is open to everyone. As the founder, Nikki Myers, puts it, “all A’s are welcome, meaning all asses are welcome”. This includes anyone suffering from addiction, whether its substance, behavior, or a combination, or anyone affected by addiction.

Y12SR meetings are being held all over the world. They take place in yoga studios, churches, community centers, and treatment facilities. The organization is moving towards becoming evidence based, meaning research is being done to show its efficacy. Overall, Y12SR is taking off.

With addiction at such high levels in the U.S. alone, I truly believe we can use all the treatment methods we have available to us.

For more information on Y12SR and to find a meeting near you, check out their website:


*Please note, Y12SR is not a substitute for 12-Step Meetings or any other form of addiction treatment, it is meant to be used as a supplement to those treatments.