Almost 300 yogis, health enthusiasts and yoga newcomers gathered and transformed Yonge-Dundas Square into an outdoor yoga studio for the Art of Living Foundation’s inaugural Yogathon 2012: 108-Sun Salutation challenge. The Canada-wide Yogathon spread the message of peace, created awareness about yoga and interest in its practice for healthier living. Coinciding with the United Nation World Humanitarian Day, a global celebration of people helping people, the funds raised by all participants were donated to Care for Children, a humanitarian initiative helping children in developing countries.
Surya namaskar, or the sun salutation, is a dynamic sequence of movements (asanas) performed to celebrate the sun, while building strength and improving flexibility. The number 108 carries spiritual significance in many cultures. It has become a tradition for yoga practitioners to perform 108 sun salutations. This is most often done in large groups and often to increase peace and unity. Performing 108 sun salutations at Yonge-Dundas Square was a symbolic offering of peace for the city of Toronto, which has experienced an outbreak of violence in recent weeks, and an opportunity for people to help people.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for our community to not only raise awareness and funds for a worthy international cause but to also bring a message of peace and hope to our city this summer", says Debra Joy Eklove, President, Art of Living Foundation. "The success of Yogathon: 108 Sun Salutation Challenge in Toronto and across Canada demonstrates the power of a single event and the collective power of a group to make a difference."
On World Health Day (April 7, 2012), over 1.3 million people in India, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in similar sun salutation events lead by the Art of Living Foundation. On August 19, participants across Canada transcended barriers of age, culture and physical ability to take part and find peace and tranquility, while having an opportunity to give back.
Yogathon 2012 participating cities included: Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa.
An Art of Living Foundation initiative, Care for Children partners with rural and tribal areas in Africa, India and other developing countries, to establish schools and other educational infrastructure. Care for Children’s mission is to provide holistic education with an emphasis on social responsibility and human values to children in under-served communities.
The Art of Living Foundation, established by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 1981, is a not-for- profit, educational and humanitarian non-governmental organization engaged in educational and service initiatives in over 152 countries. The Foundation is a leader in offering stress elimination programs, which include breathing techniques, meditation and Sri Sri Yoga. These techniques are taught monthly in several areas to the Toronto community.
Photos available upon request.
Event Website: www.yogathoncanada.org
Kiran Verma (Toronto)
Yogathon 2012 – 108 Sun Salutation Challenge