June 24 will be a day for sun salutes and downward dogs, chairs and eagles, warriors and shoulder stands.
That's because June 24 will be a day for yoga, as Naperville and the Chicago area celebrate the third International Yoga Day, which is officially June 21, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere.
International Yoga DayWhen: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, including free breakfast 8 to 10 a.m., yoga programs 10 a.m. to noon, festival noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Naperville Yard, 1607 Legacy Circle, Naperville
Who: Hosted by Consulate General of India Chicago and the City of Naperville
Led by the Consulate General of India in Chicago, the city of Naperville is hosting an International Yoga Day Celebration from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day at Naperville Yard, 1607 Legacy Circle. Organizers expect as many as 3,000 people to attend.
Starting with free breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., the event will shift to its main purpose -- the stretching, strengthening, breathing and spirituality of yoga. Organizers, including Ashfaq Syed of Naperville, say the event will help introduce the ancient mind-body practice to a generation of technology-loving kids and reintroduce it to an older generation of high-strung adults.
People are losing their health consciousness, Syed says, but yoga is one way to get it back.
That's why he and others from the Indian community in Naperville have partnered with the Consulate General of India in Chicago to highlight the benefits of the practice during this new event.
"Yoga really helps you to de-stress. It is a great way to relax, especially if you are having a very tough job," said Neeta Bhushan, consul general of India in Chicago. "In today's world where we juggle a lot of things, it helps you to connect with yourself."
Syed says he does yoga only occasionally. But Bhushan, a career diplomat who also has worked on behalf of India in Bangladesh, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, says it's a regular part of her routine.
"It's helped to make my life pain-free," she said.
At the event, attendees will gather for a 45-minute yoga session, practicing several key "asanas," or poses, together in a flow led by local teachers. There also will be breakout sessions of chair yoga for people who have mobility challenges, kids yoga, women's yoga, and age-based yoga for different generational groups.
Various instructors will give 15-minute talks on the type of yoga they offer and the benefits it can provide.
"It is an excellent way to make people more healthy," Bhushan said.
Naperville emerged as a great partner for the Indian consulate's Chicago-area celebration of Yoga Day because it's a hub for fitness and yoga studios, it's easy to access from suburban highways, and its mayor, Steve Chirico, is "very India-friendly," Bhushan said.
The mayor's office before Chirico took the position helped launch a group called Naperville Indian Community Outreach, and the city also twice has hosted an India Day parade and celebration in August.
The yoga day event also will be part festival, featuring food booths, music, dancing and cultural entertainment after the exercise concludes.
"We are planning it as a fun day," Bhushan said, "for people and families."