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Surya Namaskar: At the 2014 Sevathon

Sun Salutation is a well-known yoga routine, practiced all over the world for its spiritual and physical benefits. Jojy Michael writes about his experience with the routine, with a special focus on the Sun Salutations event at Sevathon 2014.

(Above): Sun Salutations event in porgress at Sevathon 2014. [Yoga Bharati]

A’ is for Apple, any toddler would declare. Folks like me, who think ‘g’ is for Google and ‘v’ is for VMware, may claim ‘S’ is for software, Stanford or Silicon Valley. But every year, right when Silicon Valley is warming up to ‘S’ is for summer, a popular event in Sunnyvale Baylands Park reminds us that ‘S’ is also for Sevathon. Sevathon is the annual ‘Walk or Run for Charity’ event organized by the Milpitas, Calif.-based India Community Center. Participants register for 5K, 10K or half-marathon races to raise money for their favorite charity.

For the 2014 Sevathon, ICC expanded the events roster to include a Sun Salutations event. Participants could register for 27, 54 or 108 Sun Salutations. While I had chosen the 5K race in the past, I registered for Sun Salutations this year. Doing so, I hoped, would help me to establish a more regular practice and improve my Surya Namaskar count.

Sama-sthiti is the starting point of the Sun Salutations routine. It is a simple standing posture with eyes closed, facing the rising or setting sun. Sama-sthiti is the doorstep at which one leaves the burden of life’s worries before stepping into the quiet mind fullness of Yoga.

A Sun Salutation cycle has 12 distinct postures, each of which is a salutation to an aspect of nature. Urdhvasana and Padahasthasana are salutations to the Sun as one traces the Sun’s trajectory to reach these poses. Parvatasana, the mountain pose, is a salutation to the Earth since it outlines a mountain. In each of these salutations, the practitioner is lowering the ego by acknowledging a larger entity. In Sashtangam, the mid-point of the Sun Salutation cycle, the body touches the floor at eight cardinal points from toes to forehead. By lowering oneself as low as physically possible, one is bowing down to everything in the Universe. This pose is indicative of a total surrender of the ego.

Shavasanam, the corpse pose, is always the last one in a yoga routine. In Shavasanam, the practitioner lies as still as a dead body. Shavasanam also facilitates a deep mental relaxation. If Sama-sthiti is the entry point to the yoga routine, Shavasanam is the exit.

(Above): Jojy Michael is a high tech professional, originally from India, living and working in Silicon Valley. [Yoga Bharati]

When I learned Hata Yoga at a class conducted by Isha Foundation, Surya Namaskar appealed to me as the ‘must do’ routine. On a practical level, (a) the cycle speed and count can be varied to keep the routine challenging and also to fit one’s schedule (b) like swimming, it involves all the muscles in the body and (c) one needs only a yoga mat for the practice. On a spiritual level, the salutations instruct us to be respectful of life and nature, “it is not all about me.” The mindful, reverential rhythm of Surya Namaskar is a good counter balance to the fast-paced, self-centered life style that society compels us to adopt.

Sadhana is daily practice, which is hard to maintain amidst the busy-ness of work and home. An event like Sevathon helps one to get back on the Sadhana track and even strengthen it by aiming for a greater number of cycles.

Sevathon-2014 fell on 22 June, almost exactly coinciding with the first day of summer. In a little over an hour, the group completed 108 Sun Salutations with pauses at the 27 and 54 counts for folks to leave the ‘Sun Ray’. Participants received certificates attesting to the counts they completed. My certificate was for 54 counts.


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EDITORIAL: The PM India Never Had
ECONOMY: Decoding the 2014 Budget
INFRASTRUCTURE: Indian Railways to Get Back on Track
OPINION: Understanding India’s Counterinsurgency Strategy Against the Naxal Threat
TECHBIZ: News in Brief
LIFESTYLE: Surya Namaskar at 2014 Sevathon
MUSIC: The Sarod Project
RECIPE: Hara Bhara Kebab
AUTO REVIEW: 2014 Hyundai Eqqus
TRAVEL: Tale of a Hamlet
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Kick
FICTION: The Ivory Curse
FAITH: Guru Poornima in San Jose, Calif.

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