May 10, 2012

Why I’m Doing 3,000 Sun Salutes for Clean Water.

Photo: Josh Schrei

On October 5th – 7th, 2012, I will complete a pilgrimage around South India’s sacred Arunachala mountain—doing sun salutations the entire way.

This pilgrimage will require 30 hours of continuous effort, more than 3,000 sun salutes.

I’m undertaking this small tapasya on behalf of water.org in order to raise funds to provide clean water for impoverished people in India.

As yogis, we have all benefited deeply from the profound and beautiful traditions of India. As a community, there is so much we can do to give back to this country, in which there is tremendous poverty and great need of assistance. Here’s one simple way:

On October 5-7th, dedicate one of your yoga classes to clean water in India.

All of us know the transformational power of yoga practice. Let’s demonstrate how the yoga community can come together to transform the lives of others as well.

I am doing 3,000 sun salutes because everyone has the right to the most fundamental building block of life itself—water.

Photo: Josh Schrei

One in eight people on the planet lack access to clean drinking water. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a waterborne disease. Lack of access to clean water claims more lives annually than all armed conflict.

The fact that so many in our world live in overabundance while others die in misery from lack of access to the most basic agent of life itself is a direct measure of the mental, physical, and spiritual health of humanity.

When we view human beings as one interconnected whole—which we are—we see a whole that is extremely sick, with one side suffering and dying from the diseases of gluttony and the other side from the diseases of lack.

Across this spectrum, the most fundamental agent of life, replenishing, and healing is water, and the most fundamental right of human beings is access to the substance that is our pure source.

Water is humanity’s great common denominator, transcending all boundaries, all religions, and all nations. Water reminds us of the essential reality of our oneness as human beings and our connection to the world around us.

If my physical, mental and spiritual effort in this life can bear fruit in the form of wellsprings of clear, pure water for the needy, then that is the greatest gift I could ever ask.

Photo: Josh Schrei

We live in a world in which relentless accumulation is assumed to be the natural state of the happy human being.

In the tradition of yoga, the natural state of the happy human being is recognized to stem from a healthy balance of giving and receiving. Much of our stress, our worry, our fear, our feeling of lack in this world can be addressed directly through giving.

The long tradition of freely giving is one that I seek to encourage through my own teaching. Giving is not only something that the less fortunate need of us, it is something that we need in order to be healthy and whole.

I am doing 3,000 sun salutes because I know the power of yoga practice and I want to share this gift with others.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual discipline that has profound potential for our transformation.

I know because it transformed me. Through dedication to the yogic path and to yogic practice—both on and off the mat—I was transformed from a person who struggled with deep sickness to an endurance athlete. Through yoga, I have started to develop levels of patience, discipline and surrender that I never knew were possible.

I know that when we set ourselves deep practice goals, we are repeatedly challenged along the way and that in those places where we are confronted with the most doubt and the most struggle our practice rises to help us.

I know that grace lives deep within those places where we have to practice patience and letting go and where we are forced repeatedly to go deeper.

I see bringing clean water to those people who need it as an integral part of my yoga practice, and I want to demonstrate that yoga is more than just a series of poses or a way to lose weight or a method for calming. Yoga is a vehicle for profound self-transformation—individual, global, physical and spiritual.

As we transform ourselves, so we transform the world.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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