We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

~Winston Churchill

Q: Where does the name Project “Surya” come from?

A: In the ancient language of Sanskrit, surya means “sun.”  Written in Devanagari, surya reads: सूर्य.  In my life, yoga has brought so much light and warmth.  Since Project Surya is a medium for sharing the benefits and joys of yoga – not only Hatha Yoga, but Karma and Bhakti Yoga as well – it felt right to honor use the word for sun.  With every project, we are shedding light on an important issue in our global community, bringing vitality and nurturing energies to the people we touch.

Q: What is the significance of 108?

A: 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism (the oldest religion known to humankind), Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkhism.  There are countless mythologies and rituals in which this number is significant – for example, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, there are 108 prayer beads on their version of the rosary.

In relation to this project, it’s an ancient – and nearly lost – practice to perform 108 namaskars daily.

Q: Where did the idea come from?

A: As inspired by Lisa Schrempp’s then 108 for Peace, in which Joanne served as publicist and ceremony participant, Project Surya is part of a growing movement of karma yogi projects worldwide. Hundreds of studios around the world are dedicating 108 Sun Salutations to people in need of help, from the Tucson Project 108 which recently raised money in support of families affected by recent homicides, to the New York organization led by Geshe Michael Roach which raised money for children affected by the Iraq War.

Q: How do I donate?

A: Each fundraising project will have a unique approach to how we collect money.  For the Japan Aishteru project, most of our donations were in-person or through ChipIn.  For the Kashi Ganga Cleanup project, we accepted donations of labor (cleaning the River Ganga) or cleaning supplies.  For the STEPS to End Family Violence project, we are accepting donations at their website, in person and via ChipIn.

Q: What is karma yoga?

A: Volumes have been written about this subject!  But to put it simply, karma yoga is one of many paths to Realization through selfless service.  Most yogis will incorporate karma yoga in their annual, monthly or even daily practice.

Much is misunderstood about ‘karma’ – it’s a concept often thrown around in all forms of media these days.  Karma doesn’t mean, ‘do something bad and something bad will happen to you,’ a humorless Universal ‘pay back’ system.  If that were the case, for those who have had some terrible misfortune befall them, we would say they ‘had it coming’ somehow and move on!  This isn’t the meaning at all . . .

Literally, karma means ‘action.’  Yoga means ‘connection.’  So by performing selfless actions in our lives, we may break the cycles of suffering, and come ever closer to connecting the dots and bask in the light of Being.

Consider it ‘spiritual community service!’

Q: What is a Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation?

A: A Surya Namaskar is a yogic series of postures aligned with breath.  The practice is used to pay homage to the sun, to warm the body, and for some practitioners, as a platform for spiritual mantra (chanting) and prayer.