Hindu YUVA hosts annual Yogathon

Hindu YUVA practices an alternate nostril breathing technique during a Yoga session at State Gym on Jan. 26.

Amanda Wymore

Hindu YUVA, a multicultural student organization at Iowa State, is currently hosting its third annual ISU Yogathon.

The Yogathon is a nationwide sun salutation yoga campaign aimed to create awareness about yoga and its benefits, especially those at Iowa State University. Sun salutation, also known as Surya Namaskar, is a sequence of 10 postures, or asanas, for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of an individual. 

“Yoga is all about the exploration of the truth,” said Madhav Pathak, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering and event coordinator for Hindu YUVA. “We want to bring yoga enthusiasts together as a community and show those at Iowa State that there is more to yoga than physical fitness.”

The practice also has physical benefits. The alternating backward and forward bending postures flex and stretch the spinal column through their maximum range, stretching several groups of muscles. 

“I think it’s good they start this campaign in January when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions,” Bhakti Bansode, a spouse of a member of Hindu YUVA, said. “The group environment also brings everyone together like a community, and it is easier to become motivated to finish each position.”

The 15-day campaign, which began Jan. 21, offers one-hour yoga sessions each day in varying locations. The group practices the sun salutation, focusing on the regulation of breathing, called pranayama.

“Breathing is important when doing Surya Namaskar,” said Pranav Sharma, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering and president of Hindu YUVA. “Focusing on your breathing helps with the mental process and will help with relieving your daily stresses.”

To further work on the mental benefits, the group also initiates mind exercises through more relaxed, untraditional games. 

“This is meant to be fun to introduce to everyone of all skill and knowledge levels,” Pathak said. “We play games that make you think, but they help participants relax and enjoy their experience. 

The participants agreed that the games add an extra flair to the traditional routine.

“The games will help others enjoy their time here,” Bansode said. “Instead of just watching and imitating the moves, they become part of the group.”

Each session is intended to build the knowledge of how traditional yoga is practiced. Along with physical and mental benefits, there are also spiritual benefits.

“Before we begin [each set of 10 postures], we will chant a mantra to praise to the sun lord.” Sharma said. “Going slowly and concentrating brings peace to yourself. We pray at the end of Surya Namaskar for peace and harmony in the universe.”

This spiritual benefit also brings one closer to themselves.

“You can take a very holistic approach to yoga,” said Nora Hudson, program coordinator for Recreation Services and a collaborator with Hindu YUVA. “By practicing and fuzing the yoga mindset, you can bring out your best self and have a greater awareness for what you want to achieve through yoga and through your life.” 

On the final day of the campaign, Feb. 4, Hindu YUVA will host a large Yogathon event, featuring Recreation Services and The Yoga Club. It will take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on the east basketball court in State Gym.

“We want to change the international perspective of what we think yoga is,” Hudson said. “We want to show others that yoga can be considered a lifestyle fulfilled outside of the gym.” 

For questions or more information about the event, email Pathak at [email protected] or visit facebook.com/HinduYUVAatISU.