The Health for Humanity Yogathon concluded on January 29 with 11,538 people participants crossing the 15-day nationally coordinated yoga programme’s goal of a total of a million Suryanamaskars, a series of yoga exercises. A total of 1,003,250 Suryanamaskars were performed, according to Shri Vikas Deshpande, one of the organisers.
Suryanamaskar Yajna, the national campaign by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), aimed to create awareness about yoga and its advantages. Since its inception in 2006, yoga centres, community organisations, schools and colleges, regardless of individual faiths and beliefs, have participated across the United States.
“This year we had (events in) 204 cities, from Berkeley, California, to New York City,” said Shri Deshpande. Mayors of 21 cities and towns and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper encouraged their constituents to participate in the health-awareness programme, Shri Deshpande said. Let’s Move Faith and Communities, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and dedicated to addressing childhood obesity, also partnered with the programme.
National coordinators Praveen Dheer and Shyam Gokhale said every year the programme has consistently raised the bar. Participants did the yoga exercises individually at home or collectively at community centres or other public places across the nation. In Sugar Land, Texas, nearly 300 people joined the Yogathon at the Town Square Plaza on January 28.
Sugar Land Mayor James A Thompson issued a proclamation acknowledging the campaign’s benefits. Sugar Land City Councilman Harish Jajoo read the proclamation and presented it to Shri Ramesh Bhutada, vice president of HSS, USA. Sugar Land City Manager Alan Bogard greeted the participants and wished the yoga session success.
Suryanamaskar 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 Globalisation and associate chief for emergency medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.
‘As a yoga instructor,’ said Roslyn Earle of the nonprofit Yoga For Peace, ‘I highly recommend that everyone who is able to try to learn the sequence 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. Suryanamaskar can help combat the problem of obesity among school children, Earle said.
Manoj Rathi, coordinator of the Town Square Plaza, Yogathon, said he was pleased with the turnout. ‘When I attended the Yogathon I felt a sense of inner peace and hope. Seeing all the participants joining together with a positive unified purpose was truly inspirational,’ said Alan Simberg, a participant.
‘The programme was impressive,’ said Ratanlal Jaju, 90, a yoga instructor from the Patanjali Yoga Peeth in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, who attended the event. Heather Smith from Houston, who is training to become a yoga teacher, said yoga is not a religious ritual, but a lifestyle.