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108 salutes

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YOGACHARINI KOMAL leads this year’s Adelaide Yogathon

At the end of the yoga session, I felt as though I had had a whole body massage!

I had just finished 90 minutes of 108 Sun Salutations (or ‘Surya Namaskars’, as they are called), and my body felt heated up as if each cell was vibrating with life force (‘Prana’).

The most beautiful part was the cool down at the end, Savasana with Yoga Nidra relaxation for 20 minutes. The guiding voice of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took me into a deep state of peace.

Completing 108 Sun Salutations boosted my confidence in myself as a yoga practitioner. I felt truly blessed!

The marathon yoga session was part of this year’s Yogathon, an Art of Living event that brings thousands of people together on the mat for a cause.

In Adelaide, a small group of nearly 25 enthusiastic yogis took the challenge of 108 Sun Salutations Marathon at the Plympton Community Centre. Putting up with the early morning chill, male and female participants of all ages came out in their white Yogathon t-shirts along with their colourful yoga mats.

The session started with a quick informative presentation on the benefits of Sun Salutations, followed by a demonstration of the actual sequence. Teams of four were made and names were chosen to bring about greater team spirit. A voice recording of the counts, with light music, was used as instructions to maintain a regular pace.

Light refreshments and photographs finished off the morning beautifully. Three participants took home lucky-draw Yogathon t-shirts.

The event marked a new beginning for me personally too, as this was my first ever attempt at the 108 salutations – even though I’ve been an instructor for two years. I was not sure whether I would be able to complete the full 108 Sun Salutations (that is, 54 rounds of the ‘Surya Namaskar’ routine), but at the end I felt I could go on! To my surprise, almost everyone completed the full event, with only a few participants taking a break in the middle. The key to completing the 108 rounds is awareness of breath and mindfulness. I realise now that it is not the body which holds us back, it is our mind!

The whole session seemed like ‘meditation in motion’.

The Sun Salutation is a powerful sequence of 10-12 poses specifically designed to work out all parts of the body and stretch the spine. It involves a wide range of movements: forward bend, back bend, being still, lengthening the spine, grounding the feet, strengthening the upper body, stretching the hamstrings, expanding the lungs and more. It is the ideal way to warm up at the beginning of a yoga practice.

It is also a great way to start the day as it also works on the mind. Concentrating on the breath and holding the gaze (drishti), allows us to centre ourselves and to quiet our wandering mind.

Like many rituals in yoga and in Hinduism, the Sun Salutation is repeated 108 times (the number is sacred and refers to the wholeness of existence).

Yoga is the first step towards physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. According to Swatmarama the author of Hatha Yoga Pradipika, ‘By regular asana (yoga) practice one attains steadiness of body, diseaselessness and lightness (flexibility) of the limbs’.

Nearly 40 cities around the world participated in the 3rd annual Yogathon this year, with approximately 2500 participants raising nearly $100,000 for ‘Care of Children’, a program that provides education and educational infrastructure for thousands of children in rural India. All proceeds go to Care for Children schools – a program of the Art of Living Foundation, a registered non-profit.

The world-wide yoga event was first held in 2012 in Canada.

According to Amit Taneja, the organiser of the Art of Living volunteers, “Yogathon is a way to spread the awareness of Yoga, even though people are getting involved more for a cause than just for Yoga”. The volunteers themselves benefit under the Art of Living Foundation’s Happiness Programme, as they help to “spread the cause of yoga and yoga for a cause”.

 

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