**Reproduced from Campus Life e-magazine at NUS. Original article can be found here. **
Yoga under the sky!
By Devika Garg
PhD student, Faculty of Science
The NUS University Town (UTown) Green witnessed a scene of vibrant energy and relaxation on 15 February 2014, where more than a hundred people performed yoga under a cloudless sky.
Yogathon 2014 was organised by the NUS Chapter of the Art of Living – a student interest group dedicated to preserving “one of the most endangered species in today’s world: stress-free youth.” The yoga marathon, endorsed by the Singapore Sports Council, was started in Singapore last year on the World Health Day at two venues: NUS and East Coast Park.
Yogathon is a global initiative celebrated in many countries to encourage healthy living, and involves completing a total of 108 Sun Salutations, or as many as the participants’ fitness permits. It is not meant to be a competition among people, but an easy individual challenge to create awareness about the connection of yoga with healthy living.
Each Sun Salutation is a sequential set of 12 powerful yoga postures that focus on controlled breathing and flexibility. The postures, which stretch different muscles of the body to create a very compact and wholesome workout, help develop physique, muscle strength and reflexes. Research suggests that it is one of the best things you can do for the mind as well. The well-known benefits include improved concentration and confidence, as well as lowered stress and anxiety.
Three weeks of free evening practice sessions were conducted at the UTown Education Resource Center in the run-up to Yogathon 2014. The sessions were designed to help beginners learn this unique form of yoga, train for the GOLD challenge and incorporate yoga into their daily routine.
On the warm and breezy Saturday afternoon of the yoga marathon, the lush green field of UTown was splashed with colourful yoga mats and happy faces of 104 NUS students, staff and alumni. Experienced teachers Adam Fazlur, Winnie Ang and Dana Carroll guided the yoga session. About 65 participants persevered to complete the GOLD challenge of 108 Sun Salutations.
This was followed by some fun laughter yoga and smooth Zumba moves. The cherry on the cake was relaxation under the blue skies with live soulful music by Art of Living members: flute by S Chandra Mouli and tabla by Raja Subramanian.
With enthusiastic participation from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the event successfully fostered a spirit of camaraderie in the NUS community. One participant even suggested that such fun activities be conducted every other month!
In fact the NUS Art of Living organises monthly YES!+ programmes for students, focusing on empowerment through a stress-free mind by yoga and breathing techniques. These courses are poised to help students relax, concentrate better and realise their full potential. The YES!+ programme is recognised at many universities around the world including Harvard, Stanford, Cornell and Virginia Tech, and some allow students to take it up for credits. Corporate heavyweights such as Google, IBM and NASA also endorse it for their employees.
It was a great message that Yogathon 2014 sent out at the start of this year – all you need is a yoga mat and a little time to shape up and feel amazing!
Visit NUS Art of Living’s Facebook group for updates on their activities:www.fb.com/groups/NUSArtOfLiving