On Saturday 21 September Nature Seychelles, through its Green Health Programme, hosted its first 108 sun salutations yoga challenge. It was led by the programme’s coordinator Robin Hanson, an experienced yoga teacher.
Traditionally held to welcome a new time of year or to support a cause, the challenge was held on World Peace Day, with contributions raised going towards the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, the wetland reserve that Nature Seychelles manages.
Yoga is part of a green exercise regime introduced by Nature Seychelles in 2011 when it had the novel idea to combine exercising in nature with conservation and healthy living. In the past two years, the programme has offered a structured nature therapy programme to referral agencies in the drug rehabilitation and mental health services at the Sanctuary and at the Heritage Garden.
A group of enthusiastic locals and residents regularly attend classes taught by Robin. It was ten of these yoga enthusiasts who participated in the 108 sun salutations challenge.
The sun salutation is a well known sequence in Hatha yoga. It combines different movements that tone, strengthen, and increase flexibility and aerobic capacity making it a great work out for the whole body. Beyond the physical benefits, it helps relax the mind through breathing and slowing down of movements.
The challenge began at 9 o’clock and took 75 minutes, with both beginners and seasoned participants working in harmony, at their own pace but keeping up with the whole group.
“We took rests in between whenever we needed to,” said Shama.
But why 108? The number itself is auspicious and significant in a number of philosophies, says Robin. But the most important thing to remember about this sequence is that it is done in sets, to ensure both the right and left sides of the body are exercised.
“Doing many sets is demanding but the repetition increases ability and deepens one’s practice,” Robin says.
There was a sense of accomplishment from all the participants at the end of the challenge.
“I have wanted to do 108 sun salutations since I first heard about it,” said a participant. “I feel wonderful. I feel so proud of everyone here. All of us doubted whether we could manage it and all of us managed wonderfully.”
“It was not as hard as I expected it to be because we did different versions of the sun salutation and it was not long and boring because we have been practicing for a little while,” said Pavan.
“The thing with yoga is that with repetition you find out something new about your body and new things about the way you feel, everyone feels different,” she added.
Others said they were grateful to Nature Seychelles for hosting the challenge and were looking forward to doing it again.
Robin says Nature Seychelles will be hosting another challenge in the coming months and also during the Seychelles Mind Body Spirit Festival.