Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, Inc. (HSS) concluded its sixth annual “Health for Humanity” Yogathon on January 29th, 2012. During this two-weeks Yogathon, over 13,200 participants energized themselves up with more than one million repetitions of the yoga routine known as the Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar. The Yogathon was held at 230 different places from 39 US states and 5 countries in America, Asia, and Africa.
HSS launched the Yogathon, also known as Surya Namaskar Yajna (SNY), first in 2007, to create awareness about yoga as a perfect physical and mental health keeping system. The current year 2012 was the sixth year since the program was launched. This year, besides HSS volunteers, many health-conscious people across the nation participated in the 16-day event regardless of their race, religion, gender, ideology, ethnicity and age. These participants belonged to more than 107 community groups such as yoga institutes, temples, universities, religious and community groups. Furthermore, children from 19 public schools from California to the heartland of America, not only participated in the program, but also are considering surya-namaskar practice as a regular activity.
“Surya Namaskar integrates simple postures with an easy breathing technique to provide health benefits for everyone from beginners to yoga enthusiasts”, said Dr. Bobby Kapur, Director of the Center for Globalization and Associate Chief for Emergency Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, who participated in a Sugar Land, TX event. Dr. Somadatt Mahabir, a renowned scientist in the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, spoke in the Washington, DC about the importance of Surya Namaskar in keeping good health all year round. He said, “Many diseases like diabetes and cancer can be avoided by practicing Surya Namaskar on a regular basis.” He further added that a daily routine of performing Surya Namaskar can be used as a tool to fight the obesity which has become a worldwide epidemic.Roslyn Earle a yoga instructor from the nonprofit Yoga For Peace said “I highly recommend everyone to learn the sequence of Surya Namskar and discover for themselves the wealth of improved health from a regular practice”. Earle conducted the Sugar Land event with fellow yoga instructors Mallikarjun B Shintri and Daksha Shah. Children who had learned yoga from Shah demonstrated the technique on stage for the participants to follow. “Surya Namaskar can help combat the problem of obesity among school children”, Earle said.
Several Government offices recognized and appreciated HSS’s efforts in spreading awareness of Yoga as a health-restoring system. Mayors of cities like Herndon(VA), Bloomington(IL), Normal(IL), Fremont(CA), Parsippany(NJ), Pearland(TX), San Antanio(TX), Sugar Land(TX), Morrisville(NC), Sunnyvale(CA), Milpitas(CA), Flower Mound(TX), Berkeley(CA), Irvene(CA), White Plains(NY), Springfield(IL), Newark(CA), Austin(TX), Tampa(FL) declared Jan 29th, 2012 as a “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 his “Shape up NYC” program and urged his city employees and residents to participate and receive the health benefits. He was also pleased to have HSS as a partner in his efforts to help New Yorkers to make smart decisions about their bodies. The Governor of the State of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, recognized HSS efforts in preserving ancient Hindu heritage and values. The honorable congressmen, Frank Wolf (10th district of VA) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (11th district of NJ), commended HSS for the leadership role in promoting healthy activities, such as Yoga.
The Yogathon also partnered with “Let’s Move!” a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.
A senior citizen, V. T. Balanarsimha (Troy, OH) did 108 Surya Namaskar daily for 14 days, thus setting a wonderful example for youngsters and adults. Lamitr, a 4th Grader, has been participating in the Surya Namaskar Yajna for last two years. He got an award for highest count in age category (5 to 12 yrs) for two consecutive years. He was happy to receive it from vice-Mayor of the city of Cupertino. He was really excited and said he was looking forward to participate in the program next year too. Gargi, a 8th Grader, got an award for highest count in age category (13 to 19 yrs). She did 1690 Surya Namskars in 15 days. She is looking forward to join the program next year as well. Sadasiva, who works with Visa, did 10 sets of Surya Namaskar every day. He began his day at 5:30 am in the morning with the daily dose of Surya Namaskar to keep himself fit and energized for the whole day.
All in all, the SNY-2012 was a huge success. Praveen Dhir, the national coordinator, summed it up by stating, “It is a real accomplishment of this project that many participants continue this exercise year round and spread the message to stay fit and get in shape with their friends, family and the society”. We, the organizers of the Yogathon, thank all the participants, community groups and citizens for their support and promotion of this event. We wish them great health through sun salutations until the next Yogathon!!