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Hindu Americans Partner with ISKCON for U.S. “Yogathon”

By: for ISKCON News on Aug. 20, 2010
Photo Credits: ournewearth.tv
ISKCON will be one of the many organizations participating in Yogathon, a one-day campaign that will see community and worship centers across the U.S. offering free one or two-hour introductory yoga classes on Sunday, August 29th.

The event, which is intended to promote healthy and natural living, will be part of President Obama’s United We Serve initiative (Serve.gov), which calls on all
Americans to participate in their nation’s recovery and renewal by serving in their communities.

Yogathon will be sponsored by the Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), an organization that attempts to link many different Hindu and Vedic groups through their community service.

HASC became familiar with ISKCON through its worldwide Food for Life program, and the two have worked together since HASC co-founder Anju Bhargava joined the White House staff in early 2009 as an Advisory Council Member of the President’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership.

“ISKCON works in partnership with a lot of different organizations that are concerned with promoting religious liberty and values that are in alignment with Vaishnava principles, such as animal rights and environmental organizations,” says ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Dasa, who is helping HASC to coordinate the event. “We also do lots of interfaith work, and have roots under the broad umbrella of Hindu traditions. So it made perfect sense for us to do this.”

As well as ISKCON’s help, HASC has also enlisted the support of other non-profit partners including Hindu temples around the country, Points of Light Institute, Art of Living, Patanjali Yoga Peeth, the Network of Indian Professionals, and the Institute for Faith & Service.

ISKCON Centers participating in the Yogathon include The Bhakti Center in New York City; New Talavan, Mississippi; New Orleans; Potomac, Maryland; and Prabhupada Village, North Carolina. Devotees running yoga studios in Los Angeles and Lawrence, Kansas will also participate.

The event is a good fit for North American ISKCON temples, since many already offer regular yoga classes. As well as being good for health—which is becoming more important to the society as its members grow older—yoga is also a natural introduction to the process of Bhakti, or devotion to God.

“Yogathon will be an opportunity for many people to get an introduction to yoga, and through that, a more sattvic and spiritually-focused life,” says Anuttama Dasa. “Hopefully it will also give the local communities our temples are based in a greater appreciation of the values that we—and other Hindu and Vedic communities around the country—provide. And it will give us a chance to introduce a group of people who may never have visited otherwise to their local ISKCON temple.”

Each venue will organize its own time for the yoga classes, although many ISKCON temples will schedule theirs from two to four o’clock in the afternoon, so that people who want to can stay on for an experience of the famous weekly Sunday Feast.

Those who don’t may be interested in other things that their local temple has to offer, such as its prasadam restaurant, vegetarian cooking classes, or continuing yoga classes.

The free Yogathon classes offered by ISKCON temples on August 29th will be open to ISKCON members as well as newcomers, and will be taught by initiated devotees or congregational members working as professional yoga teachers.

So far, 58 organizations in 18 states have registered to participate in Yogathon, including eight ISKCON centers.

Any other ISKCON temples that would like to be part of the event can contact Anuttama Dasa at ad@pamho.net for more information.

To find out more about Yogathon, please visit www.hinduamericanseva.org/yogathon.


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