On a sultry June morning 2014, some 30 Yoga enthusiasts came together in the club house of Estoril court, a residential building in the middle of a busy neighbourhood in Hong Kong. They dreamed to start a movement. The teachers joined two large coffee tables to serve as a makeshift if rickety, stage to teach dynamic Sun salutations sequence to the gathered participants.
They named it Yogathon, and the movement began, as it often does with a few minds and a lot of heart. Yogathon is a challenge of the body and the mind, pushing the participants beyond their own mental limitations to complete 108 rounds of Sun Salutations. The ancient Yogic dynamic sequence of the Sun Salutations as been practiced since Vedic times, and is known to improve the quality of life by healing the body and strengthening the mind. From that day onwards Yogathon became a yearly event of The Art of Living Foundation in Hongkong, joining the community together and spreading the message of health and wellness.
In 2018, Simran Daryanani an Art of living teacher approached me for helping out with Yogathon. I had just moved to Hong Kong in 2016. As a lifelong practitioner of the classic form of Yoga, I couldn’t relate to it at all. It sounded like Marathon to me. How can Yoga be like a Marathon ! How can people be doing yoga for 1.5 hours continuously? At the same time, the yogi inside me was excited for the opportunity I was getting to learn and grow in the process. And, as always, the infectious energy and effortless smiles of the the whole Art of Living team of teachers and volunteers just drew me in. We all cheerfully pushed ourselves, body and soul to work together. Yogathon 2018 was a huge hit.
And then, just as we were feeling unstoppable, COVID-19 came along. The very essence of Yogathon is the community, the energy and joy we get to share as we practise the Sun Salutations together. With social distancing and lockdowns, we knew we would never be able to get the same number of people together. We felt helpless! Then something strange happened. Teachers, musicians, chefs, artists started to conduct online classes. Businesses started to move meetings online. And it occurred to us this was the most amazing thing that could happen! We now had an opportunity to not only spread our message in Hong Kong but to the whole wide world without the limitation of a physical space. Yogathon suddenly transformed from a local Hong Kong event to a global platform! We all excitedly got into action. We targeted 6th of June as the event date. Everyone started to communicate the message through digital means. We started giving online practice sessions to make participants prepare for this event.
Slowly people put aside the fear of 108 repetitions and started enjoying the sequence. From a first timer getting introduction to the 12 asanas, they soon effortlessly started to move to 108. Groups have their own energy. When we gather together for a good cause everything supports us. When the day came, Yogathon 2020 became a new milestone for us, as over 200 people joined online from all around the Globe and we laughed and clapped our way to 108 repetitions. The beginners had become the Pros. Those who traveled with us on this journey feel happy, energetic and with more stamina and energy even today. What else you can ask for?
I always believed that when you have a goal in mind your life becomes much focussed and organised. That was the whole purpose of Yogathon for me, a challenge to break boundaries.