Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, Inc. (HSS) concluded its Fifth Annual “Health for Humanity Yogathon” on January 30, 2011. During this two-week Yogathon, despite unusual wintry weather throughout the US, over 10,122 participants warmed themselves up with 988,302 repetitions of the yoga routine known as the Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, in 224 cities and towns from 38 states.
Not only did HSS volunteers actively participate but also health-conscious people across the nation participated regardless of their race, religion, gender, ideology, ethnicity, and age. Seventeen public schools from California to the heartland of America, 25 Universities, 14 Yoga Studios, and many Temples actively participated in this project.
HSS launched the “Health for Humanity Yogathon”, also known as Surya Namaskar Yajna (SNY),as an annual event in 2007 to create awareness about yoga and its advantages in achieving a healthy body, mind, and spirit. The Surya Namaskar yoga routine integrates simple postures of well-balanced movements in ten steps with an easy breathing technique to provide immense health benefits for everyone from beginners to yoga enthusiasts.
One of the first-time participants commented on his experience, “The cost to participate in this Yogathon is zero, but its health benefits are priceless!” Shekhar Agrwal of Patanjali Yogpeeth (USA) Trust, commented to Indian-Americans, “This country has given us wealth; let us all give the health to this country by promoting Surya Namaskar.” Stephen Knapp, Vedic Friends Association President shared his experience, “I certainly notice a difference in my health, especially my energy and stamina, plus it helps motivate me.”
“When me and my family do Surya Namaskars together we are able to spend time together and take some time out of our busy lives. Additionally my grandfather has been doing Surya Namaskras and teaching yoga for a long time. He is 80 years old and today he is as fit as a young man. This gave me the motivation to do Surya Namaskars to ensure a good and healthy future.” said Nikita Zamwar, an 11th grader.
Mayors of Tampa FL, Milpitas, CA, Cupertino, CA, Sunnyvale, CA, Morrisville, NC, Austin, TX, Normal IL, and Bloomington IL, declared “Health for Humanity” day and encouraged their constituents to participate in the locally held Yogathons. Famous for his health conscious agenda, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the City of New York integrated this Yogathon with “Shape up New York” program and urged his city employees and residents alike to participate and receive the health benefits. Similarly, Judge Ed Emmett of Harris County, TX, the third largest county in the US, declared January 29th, 2011 as “Health for Humanity Day”. State House of New Jersey adopted resolution by Hon. Representative Chivukula and acknowledged benefits of Surya Namaskar and expressing the best wishes to participants of the Yogathon.
Child members of HSS Balagokulam and young adults eagerly wait for this Yogathon every year and take a challenge. Many children around age 10 perform 500 + salutations over this two week period. Eleven year old Srimitha Srinivasan from Reading, MA performed 3,876 Sun Salutations!
Among the older participants, 66-year-old Mrs. Saraswati Rao, compleded Surya Namaskars setting a wonderful example for younger adults as well as children.
India’s Padmashree Award recipient and renowned neurosurgen Dr. Kamaljit Singh Paul encouraged and guided the Yogathon participants at the Gurudwara of Fox Valley in Menasha, Wisconsin. He outlined the benefits of Surya Namaskars as beyond just muscle development and said that this particular type of Yoga exercise helps to keep our internal organs such as brain, heart, and liver healthy and also helps in proper blood circulation.
With the assistance from HSS volunteers, the women’s health program “GLOW”, at Valley Medical Center, Rentan WA, intends to continue this as an everyday required exercise for their member participants. HSS Yogathon National Coordinator Praveen Dhir summed it up by stating, “It is a real achievement of this project that many participants continue this exercise year round and spread the message to stay fit and shape up with their friends, family and the society”