LA YOGA: You’ve said that your own thyroid cancer helped you to change your life and understand the importance of wellness. What inspired the founding of Global Wellness Day?
Belgian Aksoy: A few years ago, just prior to establishing the Global Wellness Day concept, I asked myself the following question: “Health is one of the most important issues of our lives, so why do we still not have a special day dedicated to living well?” This was the moment that our story began, the story of a project we have been working on day and night for the last four years with the dream of creating a healthier and happier world.
Living well is a simple necessity for every human being on the planet. To overcome global problems such as depression and to encourage people to lead a healthier and happier life, I feel we need an inspiring beginning. The name of that beginning is Global Wellness Day.
Global Wellness Day is an entirely not-for-profit day; it is a social project created by volunteers dedicated to living well. The fundamental purpose of the day is to make us aware of the value of our lives. Even if it is for one day of the year, it is a day that helps us to help us stop and think and get away from the stress of city living and set aside our bad habits, to thereby find peace within ourselves.
Being an open to public and free of charge event, Global Wellness Day brings together exercise, healthy eating, and inner health for a social movement to raise awareness of living well throughout the world. GWD is a special opportunity to bring together the wellness world in an inspiring mission on the second Saturday of June every year.
LA YOGA: What actions do you hope people take as a result of participating in Global Wellness Day?
Wellness is the conscious development of the whole self. Embarking on a wellness journey is a process of searching for the appropriate tools to make you a healthier and happier human being, as well as discovering your own effective methods to use these tools for continued growth and development. As there is a great variety on all aspects of life, there are also countless ways to cultivate yourself on an ever-changing path of wellness.
In this context, participating in Global Wellness Day helps make people aware of that irrespective of a person’s nationality, age, size, shape or perceived attractiveness, it is wellness that is the cornerstone of quality of life.
When a person participates in a GWD event for the first time in his or her life, he or she learns that Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.
LA YOGA: What is behind the slogan, “I say yes!” What are people saying yes to?
Today, wellness is no longer a trend; it has become accepted as a lifestyle. By saying, “I SAY YES,” people are saying yes to the philosophy of wellness that is based on harmonizing, balancing, and improving physical, spiritual and mental health through recognizing the human as a whole. The peace achieved via wellness is a mental, physical and spiritual harmony and a way of existence and living.
LA YOGA: What do you see as the role of spa treatments in wellness?
The general misconception that we are facing in all GWD-celebrating countries is to make more communities aware of the wellness concept. Today, many people still think that wellness is a luxury that can’t be reached easily. However, the primary objective of Global Wellness Day is to show that wellness is not a luxury but the right of each individual.
LA YOGA: What suggestions do you have for people to incorporate spa treatments in their daily routine?
I recently read in one study of more than 3,300 Japanese government workers, frequency of spa and spa treatments use was linked to better physical and mental health, including better quality sleep and fewer sick days. In a similar study with German data conducted by researchers from Florida State University and George Mason University, spa therapies reduced both work absences as well as hospitalizations. Examples like this demonstrate why I believe people should incorporate spa treatments in their daily routine more often.
LA YOGA: How do people come on board to partner with GWD?
This year’s rallying cry for GWD is “Wellness for Everyone!’’ A range of cities, tourism boards, health clinics, and even national dance companies are offering workshops and classes to educate and inspire the public about the benefits of proactive wellness and mind-body fitness.
One of our partners is the Four Seasons, one of the leaders of the Hospitality and Spa industry and one of the 3,000 different locations worldwide that has committed to company-wide participation in Global Wellness Day to help guests realize that “One day can change their whole life.”
LA YOGA: What are some examples of inspiring Global Wellness Day initiatives?
Some great examples of GWD initiatives are those supported by governments around the world:
•GWD Thailand is being supported by Tourism Authority of Thailand, Bangkok Metropolitan Authority, and Thai Spa Association.
•The President of Cyprus has recently gave his support to Global Wellness Day. At the same time, GWD Cyprus is carrying out joint projects with GWD Cyprus Tourist Organization, the Governor’s Offices of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Agia Napa and Nicosia.
•GWD France is collaborating with the National Association of Mayors of Touristic Cities in France. In this context, 920 Mayors in France are being informed and encouraged.
•GWD Turkey has the support of Touristic Hotel Investors Association, Turkish Heart Foundation and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
•The mayor of Langley in Canada, Jack Froese supports Global Wellness Day.
•Aruba Tourism Association is taking the lead in GWD 2016 for all Spas on Aruba.
•Mayor of Imperial Beach in USA, Serge Dedina is ready to embrace Global Wellness Day in 2016.
•GWD India has the support of the Minister of Tourism & the Minister of Health of Maharashtra, one of the largest states of the subcontinent.
•GWD Costa Rica has met political advisors and Congresswomen recently to get their support.
•GWD Nigeria has the support of the Consul General of France, Laurent Polonceaux.
GWD is also gaining the support of schools and institutions worldwide including: CIDESCO Schools, Thuya Escuela School in Spain, Dance and Creative Wellness Foundation, American Leisure, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Exercise is Medicine, the Day Spa Association, SpaFinder Wellness 365, Treatwell, the Global Wellness Institute, the Arizona Spa & Wellness Association, Florida Spa Association and International Spa Association (iSPA) etc.
One of our best practices over the past two years has been to receive the support of Hollywood stars such as Ving Rhames, Josh Charles, Ty Burrell, Jessie Taylor Ferguson, Mayim Bialik, Joe Morton, as well as authors including Deepak Chopra and Agapi Stassinopoulos, sports stars such as Venus Williams and Rainbeau Mars and leaders of the business world including Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, Co-creator of SKYPE, Jonas Kjellberg and Wendy Kopp, CEO / Co-Founder of Teach for All.
For more information about Global Wellness Day events in Southern California and around the world, visit GlobalWellnessDay.org
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.