The month of October was declared as a Hindu American Awareness and Appreciate Month (HAAAM) by California in 2013.
Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Washington, DC,-based nonprofit organization, has urged people all over the US to participate in various yoga activities to commemorate the HAAAM.
“Join us this year in using this unique opportunity to educate others about our teachings and traditions, including the true meaning of yoga,” HAF said in a statement on its website. “When most people say they “do yoga,” what they’re really talking about is asana. But asana is just one of the eight limbs of yoga as explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra.”
It said yoga is much more than just asanas (yoga postures).
“For this Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation Month, HAF invites you to participate in all four paths of yoga to share the broader meaning of yoga and demonstrate the power yoga has to ensure the wellbeing of all people and the planet.”
For the first week, the statement said, people may start with Bhakti Yoga or the path of love. This may include: “Learning to sing a new bhajan or committing to singing a favorite every day this week with your family; visiting your local temple and reading a story about a presiding deity or the story of great devotees such as Prahlad, Akka Mahadevi, or Meerabai as a family; volunteering at or donating to a local animal shelter recognizing that all of Creation shares the same divine spark and is thus deserving of love and dignity.”
The second week could be for the Karma Yoga. “Cleaning up trash at a local park, playground, or beach; participating in food distribution for the needy or donating to a food bank in your community; or, running an errand or making a meal for someone who’s elderly or not in the best of health or at the hospital,” are some forms to perform Karma Yoga or selfless service.
This refers to gaining the divine knowledge. This can be obtained by “Reading and discussing as a family the practical applications of teachings of Chapters 2 and 3 of the Gita; volunteering to teach about Diwali in your child’s school; visiting HAF’s Hinduism 101: Learning About Hinduism Inside and Out and reviewing 2 or 3 modules of your choice and discussing them with your school-aged children to better equip them to respond to errors in their school textbooks.”
This refers to the path of meditation. The statement said Raja Yoga can be practiced by “Committing to starting your day with five surya namaskara and observing the effect on your breathing, posture, stamina, and ability to manage stress; practicing the yama of ahimsa by going vegetarian for the week. If you already follow a vegetarian diet, consider ahimsa of thought by becoming mindful of how you react and respond to daily stressors such as aggressive drivers, a pushy colleague, or the demands of family; learning pranayama or committing to doing pranayama for at least 5 minutes every day this week and observing the effects on your stress level or stamina.”