30 States, 132 Places
5766 participants & 616,725 Surya Namaskars
Government official appreciation : Bloomington (IL), Tulsa (OK), Oklahoma Congressman
TV / Radio coverage : ABC news KAAL, TV Asia, NBC news KTTC, SNY 08 Shakha statistics
Second annual offering of salutes to the Sun, known as “Surya Namaskar Yagna” successfully achieved its objective of ‘Health for Humanity’. Surya Namaskar is a 10-step body conditioning method that uses the ancient Indian Yoga techniques. Each year Indians worldwide celebrate January 14th as Makar Samkranti day– a change of season and the day the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn or Makar. Makar Samkranti brings in longer days, thus the festivity symbolizes sunshine in the life. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA (HSS) local centers, along with several Yoga groups and community organizations, actively participated at over 130 locations all across the U.S. in this unique public health awareness campaign that started on January 12th, 2008 and concluded on January 27th, 2008.
Surya Namaskar is a type of Yoga practice consisting of 10 steps of body postures from standing position to gradually leaning to lie straight on the floor and reverse the same to the original position. Each of these positions is associated with a breathing technique that in addition to conditioning the body muscles also helps practice deep respiration techniques.
For past two weeks, children aged five to adults above 70 enthusiastically performed Surya Namaskars. More than 5700 people performed over 600 thousand Surya Namaskars.. From East Coast to West Coast, North to South, many places conducted marathon events where for several hours participants continued performing approximately 6 minutes of one set of Surya Namaskar where total 13 of such offerings were performed with each including 10 yoga postures. In New York, 24 years old Rudra Upadhyay, 17 years old Suraj Bassit, both originally from Guyana, and 26 years old Piyush Satapathy, originally from Orissa, India, respectively performed 845, 825 and 832 Surya Namaskars within five hours span, during the locally held Surya Namaskar Marathon! Some of the local centers performed as many as 15,000 Surya Namaskars during Marathon events while regions exceeded 50,000 in numbers.
This event was widely welcomed all across the US. Local TV channels, print media and community news media acknowledged the success of this event, especially in the City of Tulsa, OK and the City of Bloomington, IL. Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan acknowledged HSS’ efforts to bring fitness awareness in the community with special citations. Although such a visibility and appreciation is highly encouraging, the major success of this project came from the enthusiasm of the participants from the cross-section of the community, independent of age, sex, nationality and individual faith. Young child Thor Stead from Minneapolis, while enjoying this exercise, rightly said that it is helping him to stay healthy. Seventy two years old Houston resident Mr . Shintri who is CPA by profession, performed daily Surya Namaskars and performed more than 100 Surya Namaskars during the marathon event. In his words, Yoga and Surya Namaskars keep the body well trained and healthy. It is part of holistic life style which, according to Mr. Shintri, helped him stay active at this age without any kind of medicines. Aruna Panyam from Westminster, Colorado, who coordinated women’s workshop for 5 sets or 65 counts every day per person, commented that all participating women started feeling as if it is part of their daily routine and active life style.
Anil Kothari, HSS National Coordinator for Surya Namaskar Yagna commented that many participants from the last year were looking forward again to getting involved this year too. Over the one year period many kept practicing Surya Namaskars at home or gyms and nothing else now need to convince them other than their self-experienced healthy body and fitness in daily actions.