Even among the multitudes of fluorescent yellow-clad athletes at the Wipro Chennai Marathon this year, it was impossible to miss the smiling faces and bright orange T-shirts of over 2,000 people running in support of Isha Vidhya. These runners – from different categories, 10k to full marathons, from housewives to monks, 15 years to 81 years of age – ran for a single cause: educating rural children.

Many of the Isha volunteers had little to no previous running experience, and their exuberance throughout the race was itself a testimony to the efficacy of their daily Isha Yoga practices and the presence of grace in all spheres of their lives.

Below, read a surprising experience from one of the runners:

One morning I went to the Isha Yoga Center in Adyar and saw a poster of joyful and exuberant Isha Vidhya School children appealing to people to run the Chennai Wipro Marathon and raise funds for them. It didn’t take more than that, and I was ready to register for the half marathon 21.1 km distance even though, at that time, I was not in the pink of health to run even 4 km at a stretch. Though I had run the half marathon last year, I couldn’t complete it without 6-7 breaks. But I remembered the elation I felt knowing I was adding to the wellbeing of deprived children. And I was ready to do it again.


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When Weakness Becomes a Strength

Little did I imagine that my keenness to run despite my health conditions had, in fact, become an inspiration for many others in the area to join the marathon. “If you could run last year, and are willing to run again, then it can’t be that hard for us to do it too,” said a co-meditator, laughing. Soon, we had 10 people registered to run 21.1 km along with me – but I can’t say that any of us were really fit to run this distance! I, moreover, travel for work at least 3-4 days a week, so I couldn’t join the others either for morning jogging or physical training. My only practices were the Isha kriyas and asanas, which I have been doing regularly for the past 2 years.

Running on the Smiles of Children

On January 8th, the day of the race, I was quite prepared to simply walk or take long breaks during the run. While standing at the starting line, I gave myself a crash course in Isha Yoga, and it brought a deep sense of offering within me. Once the whistle blew, running became a sadhana in itself, and the fellow runners became comrades. Soon, it was no longer about me, my body or the time taken: only the smiles of underprivileged children lingered on. All I could hear were the cheers of joyful Isha volunteers, and I ran on.

Over in a Jiffy

Towards the end, as it inexplicably happens during any Isha program or when I volunteer, I had an “experience”. My body, mind, emotions, and energy experientially reached a peak. When I was crossing the finishing line, I completely blanked out. A sense of emptiness engulfed me for a few minutes after. The run seemed to be over in a jiffy. Everything looked like a dream. Is this what they call a “dream run”?

I had run the entire 21.1 km without a single break, holding the Isha Vidhya placard throughout.

Recharged on the 11th Day Moon!

Since January 8th was also an Ekadashi, after the run until late evening, the only thing I consumed was a glass of juice. This only added to the fun and made it a truly memorable experience. Looking back, I can clearly see that all this was possible because of my regular Isha practices and Sadhguru’s Grace.

Senthil Nathan N
Regional Sales Manager for South, Castrol India Limited

Editor’s Note: For more information on Isha Vidhya and how you can support them, follow them on Facebook or visit their website. If you are interested in running for Isha Vidhya, drop a mail to prabhu.loganathan@ishavidhya.org (India) or peggy.wolff@ishavidhya.org (worldwide).