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Adelaide Yogathon 2015 draws participation from young and old, writes SUNILA VIG
A motley group of 45 participants, aged seven to sixty, recently gathered at the community hall at Kilburn to take part in a yogathon organised by Art of Living, Adelaide.
The ancient practice of yoga, which loosely means union in Sanskrit and has its origins in India, has transcended all boundaries and permeated other cultures and communities. With 21 June being declared as the International Yoga Day, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the UN General Assembly, yoga communities across the world came together to celebrate the day this year.
In the words of the organisers of the Adelaide yogathon, “We do 108 surya namaskars (sun salutations) and then relax for 20 minutes by performing “yogic sleep” or yoga nidra. We also provide some background information on surya namaskar and its benefits. Sun salutation is a very ancient technique of paying respect or expressing gratitude to the sun that is the source of all forms of life on our planet.”
Surya namaskar involves bowing down to the rays of the morning sun. There is an element of the sun in everything that we eat, drink or breathe. Only if we learn how to internalise it and make it an integral part of our system can we truly benefit from this process.
Synchronising our mind and body with the solar cycle leads to balance and receptivity. The dynamic sequence of movements or asanas is performed to celebrate the sun, while building body strength and improving flexibility. The fluid, rhythmic postures awaken the whole body, keep the mind focused and enliven the breath. Prana (or the vital force), which is the prime mover of all activity and encompasses the energy in all animate and inanimate objects, is revived, in turn leading to fresh vigour and fluidity.
Using the physical body as a stepping stone to gain higher spiritual knowledge, the event was structured around the sacred number 108. The number carries a spiritual significance in many cultures.
Renowned Vedic mathematicians viewed 108 as a number representing the wholeness of existence. The number also connects the sun, the moon and the Earth – the average distance of the sun and the moon to the Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
According to the yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. Also, there are 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or healing points in the body. Such phenomena have given rise to many examples of other ritual significance and has also led to a tradition for yoga practitioners to offer 108 sun salutations.
Volunteers from the Adelaide chapter of Art of Living say that they are happy to help every community through various means conducting yoga sessions and meditation workshops or working on service projects. Meditation and breathing programs are regularly conducted by the group in Adelaide.
For the Adelaide yogathon this year, the Art of Living, Adelaide joined hands with the Overseas Friends of BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Australia and the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of Australia. Money collected from the event was donated to the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, which will be used to fund education for poor children in India.
Adelaide is home to many yoga studios and yoga practitioners and it is a warm, open-hearted community of people constantly on the lookout to deepen their learning and reach the core of their being through personal as well as group yoga sessions.