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The relaxing and meditative yoga nidra can help to relieve stress, frustration and insomnia as the mind enters a more tranquil state. — AFP picThe relaxing and meditative yoga nidra can help to relieve stress, frustration and insomnia as the mind enters a more tranquil state. — AFP picNEW YORK, June 18 — Declared an international day by the UN in 2014 after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a global celebration of yoga, the International Day of Yoga aims to raise further awareness of the many health benefits of this mental, physical and spiritual practice, and promote a holistic approach to wellbeing.

Taking place Wednesday, June 21, the International Day of Yoga could be the perfect time to try the 5000-year old practice for the first time, or change up your routine with a new class.

Here we round up some of the yoga trends that have made it big so far this year, and which may inspire you to get on the mat to celebrate this year.

Yoga Nidra

For those who enjoy the mental health benefits of yoga and not just the physical results, yoga nidra could be for you.

Sometimes referred to as yogic sleep, yoga nidra is defined by yoga master Anandmurti Gurumaa as “a kind of deep sleep in which you don’t lose consciousness.”

The practice is best done in savasana, also known as corpse pose, to help aid relaxation, with some classes also including asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing), chanting and meditation.

Yoga nidra is said to allow the body to enter a more restorative and healing state and help the mind enter a state of tranquility as it changes from activity to meditation. Practicing yoga nidra is also thought to help relieve stress, frustration and insomnia as well as muscular, emotional and mental tensions.

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is a gentler and slower form of yoga designed to help reduce stress and counterbalance our fast-paced lifestyles.

Invented only 20 years ago, yin yoga is a more meditative practice with a focus on deep breathing, rather than the aesthetics of a pose, muscular strength or perfect alignment.

Unlike more energetic forms such as vinyasa or ashtanga, yin yoga’s poses must be held on the floor between 3 and 5 minutes, requiring concentration but also aiding relaxation.

The stretches are intense, making it good for the physical body and boosting energy levels, but yin yoga is also known for its mental health benefits, helping to reduce stress and improve sleep.

Alien Yoga

Dubbed “alien yoga” on Instagram due to the stomach’s strange contractions during the movement, this latest yoga craze might look and sound intimidating, but if mastered helps to both cleanse internal organs and strengthen the abdominal area.

Traditionally known as “nauli,” the movement is a yogic cleansing exercise, or “kriya”, which involves rolling the abdominal muscles from side to side in a wave-like movement. Although it seems difficult, it can be practiced by most yogis and by any age group, however as an advanced movement the website nauli.org recommends learning the technique from an experienced teacher.

Goat Yoga

“Goat Yoga” is perhaps one of most unusual but potentially fun forms of yoga, as you practice your asanas surrounded by cute and tiny Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Yogis are currently lining up across the US to join the classes, which take place not in studio but in the more rural setting of a countryside farm.

Fans of the latest fitness craze report that being outdoors in nature makes the yoga class even more relaxing, with the goats themselves also helping to relieve tension thanks to their giggle-inducing antics and furry friendliness, which provides a similar experience to cuddling a pet, already clinically proven to help relieve stress and improve well-being. — AFP-Relaxnews

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