International Yoga Day is Wednesday, June 21—today!—and we’re celebrating with a little Q&A with a yoga expert and a little gear roundup.

International Yoga Day Celebration Roundup with Lolë Ambassador Dawn Mauricio

Touted for its benefits in strengthening and connecting the mind and body, yoga has gained international fame among health and wellness professionals as a go-to fitness regimen for anyone of any age. In celebration of International Yoga Day, we caught up with yoga and meditation teacher and Lolë ambassador Dawn Mauricio (dawnmauricio.com) to get her insight on the benefits of adopting a regular yoga practice and where to even begin!

A Q&A with Yoga and Meditation Expert Dawn Mauricio

Elevate Magazine: What are the biggest benefits you personally experience from yoga and how has it altered your lifestyle?

Dawn Mauricio: Although I initially started yoga to get in shape and deal with stress, the reasons that keep me coming back to my mat have changed. I now see that the benefits are interdependent, build on each other and continue to evolve and deepen.

I am stronger and more flexible: Unlike the gym, yoga works the entire body. When one part of the body is stretching, other parts are strengthening. As well, with thousands of yoga postures to draw from and multiple variations to go deeper, plateauing at a particular level of strength and flexibility in yoga is almost impossible.

I am more confident and playful: As I built strength, I became more confident. As I built flexibility, I became more playful. Trying difficult and sometimes scary poses and variations that resulted in me falling on my butt or face in a room full of strangers taught me how to laugh things off.

I feel connected and calm: In yoga, we are always playing with our edge, meaning our limits in stretch, strength, endurance and balance. The edge is where transformation begins, just outside of our comfort zone. In order to walk the edge, I have to be acutely aware of my body’s messages in each pose, such as subtle changes in sensation or breath, so as to not injure myself. This focus increases my concentration and connection to both body and breath, and promotes calmness.

I am able to tap into my intuition and creativity: With increased connection to my body, I became more familiar with my “gut feeling,” which I learned is, in great part, my intuition. Over the years, yoga has helped me to loosen up and start creating in my own ways, which has proven to be meditative and fun. It gets me out of my head and into the moment, leaving me feeling spacious, grounded and, most importantly, playful.

Celebrate International Yoga Day with Lole Amabassador Dawn Mauricio

EM: What is one beginner pose new yogis can use to start their mornings off right?

DM: A standing lateral bend! This simple pose is great at increasing energy, stretches the shoulders, creates space in the abdominal region and works out any kinks that might still be lingering after a night's sleep.

Follow these steps to do a standing lateral bend pose:

  1. Breathe in and reach both arms up towards the ceiling. Turn both palms forward, facing away from the body.
  2. Grab your left wrist with your right hand, and pull the left arm up to elongate the left side of the body.
  3. Breathe out and lean to the right.
  4. Hold this position for a few breaths, turning your face to the left and up, as if you were looking up at the ceiling.
  5. When you're ready to come out of the pose, exhale and lower your arms, then repeat on the other side.

EM: How can readers begin to incorporate yoga or elements of the yogi lifestyle into their daily routines?

DM: Creating what I call pockets of retreat as part of each day is a great way to stay grounded and aware despite the intensity of city life. Some examples:

  • Start each morning with personal quiet time like meditation, writing or a hot, candlelit bath. Even a few short minutes or a few deep breaths can do the trick if time is of the essence.
  • Eat at least one meal a day in a quiet place, free from distracting conversations, loud music and things to read or watch
  • Try single-tasking instead of multi-tasking (especially at work!)
  • Take a few deep breaths of fresh air daily
  • Keep as simple a life as possible to support your pockets of retreat—this includes not overbooking your social schedule!

Doing even just one or two of these examples on a regular basis can allow you to integrate playfulness, confidence, calm, connection, intuition and creativity into your daily life, where it counts the most.

Join Dawn at the Lolë White Tour in Montreal, a gathering of communities around the world in support of peace, wellness and community, on August 12. The tour will also be coming to Toronto on July 27th.

Get the Gear

Discover our roundup of our favourite yoga gear must-haves to sweat, stretch, strengthen and rebalance in style.