Free Spirit Yogathon: 108 Sun Salutations to Change the World!

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Video of Spirit Yogathon 2013


Yogis Seek Their Inner Superhero

Mississauga News


Staff photo by Jason Spencer               Jun 23, 2013

Free Spirit Yoga Studio held their eighth annual Spirit Yogathon Saturday at their Port Credit headquarters on Willa Rd. Here, participants enjoyed a yoga session in the relaxing setting of studio director Annette Gracea’s backyard. 

By Jason Spencer, Mississauga News

MISSISSAUGA — Amid the tranquil setting of her own backyard, Annette Garcea hosted the eighth annual Spirit Yogathon Saturday at her Port Credit home.

Some 50 participants aged between 3 and 81 took part in the event, held outside her Willa Rd. home studio, Free Spirit Yoga.

Surrounded by lush trees, backing onto to Cooksville Creek, attendees also enjoyed lunch, swimming, music (mantra chants), henna tattoos and mala making  (prayer beads.)

“When you practice yoga, you connect with your nature — that connection reminds you of your greater connection to the earth and to everybody in the world.” said Garcea, who has been practicing yoga since 1999.

Guests were also treated to a play put on by some of Garcea’s younger students. The performance was about Hanuman, a super yogi character from Hindu mythology, which tied into the day’s superhero theme.

“Today is all about getting people to access their inner superhero,” Garcea noted.  To connect with their superpowers, attendees were “doing a great deed,” by contributing to the event’s cause: raising money for the United Nations World Food Programme.

Over the past seven years, all proceeds from the Free Spirit Yogathon have supported the global initiative, bringing in nearly $17,000. Garcea hopes Saturday’s event will raise an additional $5,000.

“This is a great way to raise awareness of world hunger, bring people together and cultivate a happy, active lifestyle,” she said.

Free Spirit Yoga will be holding a series of in-depth workshops this fall. For more information, visit

Registration now open – Download the Programme and Registration Form

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Saturday June 22th, 9:00am

Presented by Free Spirit Yoga


This amazing annual event is held on the beautiful natural grounds of Free Spirit Yoga Studio in Mississauga.

All proceeds raised will benefit those hungry and in need around the world. Join us for 108 Sun Salutations and help us raise $5000 for The United Nations World Food Programme.

Remember that one determined person can make a difference, and a small group of determined people can change the course of history.

Get involved, have fun, and make a change in the world!

Registration now open – Download the Programme and Registration Form


Schedule for the Events on Saturday:

9:00 am: Registration and warm-up.  Tea and coffee provided by Starbucks.  Cosmic Cookies and Fruit from Planet Organic.

10:00 am – 12:00 noon: 108 Sun Salutations will be lead by Annette Garcea and guest teachers. They will be broken down into 4 groups of 27.  You can start whenever you arrive.  This is not a competitive crowd.  Admission is by $20 donation.  All proceeds will go to the charitable projects of The World Food Programme.  In addition, it is our hope you will make an effort to raise additional awareness through sponsorship goal of $100.00.

12:00 – 3:00 pm: Summer Garden Party. There will be plenty of food and drinks for all to share in celebration and gratitude.

Bead & Mala making for the children. Swimming. Bonfire. Prizes.

3:30 – 5:00: Open air Kirtan with SHINE. Featuring Annette Garcea, Leading vocals and Harmonium, Terri Wyllie on Tablas, Sandra Clifton and Lorysa Cornish leading response.

Free Spirit Yoga, 333 Willa Road, Mississauga, 905-274-7309

Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar, the yogi’s salute to the sun, awakens the entire body. They move the body through its entire range of motion, linking the poses together on the wave of the breath.  It is said that Surya Namaskar encapsulates the true beauty of a complete Yoga practice, striking a balance between strength and flexibility, contraction and expansion, movement and stillness.

Significance of 108 Sun Salutations: In the Yoga tradition, a mala is a garland, usually made up of 108 prayer beads, used to count mantra or prayer repetitions.  I will use the concept of the yoga mala to lead our group through the ritual of 108 Sun Salutations.  We will breathe, move, and sweat together in a full body prayer.  The intention for the practice will be to remember always how fortunate we are, and that we must never take things (such as food, water, shelter) for granted.  My hope is we will collectively come together in our yoga community to make a difference in the world.  Yoga is about the activation of the consciousness within each individual.  The individual is like a mala, a bead along the collective garland.  We want to unite that collective consciousness through the group practice.

Completion of the 108 Sun Salutations is not mandatory.  You may stop, take a break, and rejoin the group later. I will split the 108 Sun Salutations into 4 groups of 27:  The first set of 27 is dedicated to one’s personal practice; The second set of 27 is dedicated to family and friends; The third set of 27 is dedicated to the world; The fourth set of 27 is dedicated to the Divine.

Intention for the practice: Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be.  I pray that he will protect the children, guide and deliver them from their misery.  I pray that we will be more sensitive toward the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests.  We intend to remember always how fortunate we are and that we must never take things for granted.  Let’s make a prayer for the suffering anywhere and place around the globe and think before we complain about food that is wasted daily.                                          Exerpt by Kevin Carter on the Sudan Famine

Impressions of  the Yogathon 2012: Capture the Spirit


How much help it was 2012: 2,503 times “thank you”

The Spirit Yogathon’s help is dedicated to the United Nations World Food Programme for Sahel. So a big thank you to all of you who donated or attended & donated.
The total raised was $2,503.00!


How much fun it was: What one of you wrote

“Hi Annette!

I just wanted to let you know that the Yogathon was absolutely amazing.
I had such a great time and the energy there was amazing. I was able to do all 108 sun salutations.
I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but with all the positive energy there, it was such a breeze….
And doing it outside was great!
I have told the girls here about it and they are interested in doing it next year.
I will definitely be there again next year.

Winners of the Spirit Yogathon Draw

A big thank you to our sponsors, Planet Organic in Port Credit and Starbucks by Sherway Gardens!

  • Roots Yoga T-Shirt: Lee Cicconi
  • Spandarama Yoga Long Sleeve: Carol Ramsay
  • Red Sigg Water bottle: Nicholas Stancel
  • Gold Sigg water bottle: Megan Day
  • Blue Sigg Water bottle: Andrew Clifton
  • Bath set #1: Jules Carnnivale
  • Bath set #2: Nikolett Kaluzny
  • Bath set #3: Maggie Pelc
  • Coffee Mug: Justin Blayney
  • Yoga Leg Warmers: Hannah Clifton

Prizes can be picked up at Free Spirit Yoga studio.

I like Free Spirit's Yogathon

Raise Your Hands - Elevate your Spirit!

Fun with Friends – Yoga Connects!

108 completed. From age 7 to 77 did it!

Do it for your Self, your Family, the World, the Divine

Smile everybody - Say Shriiiii…!

May all beings be happy and free!


Blossom your bud:_ 2012′s kids’ yoga class tapestry

Who wants fun? Raise your hands!

Gathering…Before we get started.

Special guest…Hanuman showed up!

The rejuvenating effect of Yoga is magic

A breeze with all this positive energy!

Save the Date for the 8th Annual Spirit Yogathon: 2013, June 22ndIf you want to feel the magic, have fun and help the hungry ;-) put it into your calender on  June 22nd!

2,503 times thank you.

I like Free Spirit's Yogathon


Impressions of the Yogathon 2010: Yoga enthusiasts salute the sun

Sun salutation. Free Spirit Yoga in Port Credit hosted a yogathon in support of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency fighting to alleviate global hunger. Here, studio owner Annette Stancel leads a group in performing 108 sun salutations. Photo supplied


By Julia Le

Jun 24, 2010 – 9:48 AM  – Yoga enthusiasts gathered last Saturday at Free Spirit Yoga in Port Credit to honour the change of seasons and help feed the hungry.
Led by Annette Stancel, who owns the studio, more than 50 people performed 108 sun salutations as part of the 5th Spirit Yogathon in Port Credit. The event celebrates the summer solstice and honours the primary source of energy — the sun.
The number 108 is significant because malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come in a string of 108. A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra or a prayer.
The event also raised $3,300 for World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations agency fighting to alleviate global hunger. WFP matches the donation, bringing the total to $6,600.
Stancel says world hunger is like a silent tsunami or earthquake.
“In today’s society when a crisis arises, it’s in the media and it’s in the forefront and people give, but world hunger is not in the forefront,” said Stancel. “It is silenced and these 850 million people don’t have a lot of support; they don’t have a voice and enough food.”
She says the idea to support WFP came five years ago when she was teaching teens in her yoga class. They wanted to practice karma yoga, a form that focuses on the “discipline of action” without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds.
Last year, the event raised $1,700.
Stancel said they’re not only practicing yoga to make a difference in themselves.
“The most growth is achieved through helping others,” she said. 

jle (at)

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Impressions of the Yogathon 2008: Yoga fans gather to support the UN


Staff photo by Nikki Wesley

Annette Stancel leads a yogathon of 108 sun salutations for the World Food Programme at her studio Free Spirit Yoga in Port Credit on Saturday. All ages and stages came out to participate in the yogathon from infant to senior.

By: Radhika Panjwani

June 28, 2008 02:23 PM – Even when the sun decided to play hide ‘n’ seek with this group of yoga enthusiasts, they remained committed to the cause.
More than 50 people performed 108 sun salutations as part of the 3rd Spirit Yogathon in Port Credit today in support of World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP is a United Nations agency that’s fighting to alleviate global hunger.
The yogathon took place at the Free Spirit Yoga Studio and Park located near Hurontario St. and QEW.
Annette Stancel, owner of the yoga studio, explained the idea for a Spirit Yogathon came about three years ago when a group of teens in her class brainstormed on ideas of how they could make the world a better place.
“The teens learned about taking yoga off the mat into the real world,” Stancel said. “There are a lot of hungry people in the world. The food shortage is becoming more and more drastic. This yogathon gives people an opportunity to look beyond their own worlds here.”
The proceeds from today’s event will benefit the people of Darfur in Sudan. Last year, the cause raised more than $1,700 with a handful of people participating, this year the group plans to exceed the amount. Stancel said she chose the sun salutations for a reason.
“The sun salutations are a full body prayer,” she said. “Each time we do one sun salutation, it is like we’re doing a prayer. This session gives people an opportunity to practice all three pillars of yoga – physical aspect, selfless service and yoga of devotion.”
Patricia Macinnis, a Port Credit resident, is a regular participant at the annual yogathon. She said the group yoga gives her an chance to meet like minded individuals and raise money for WFP.
The yoga studio is tucked away overlooking a private park-like setting, lending peace and tranquility to the participants like Macinnis, who say it helps to connect with nature.
“Just being with the group is a good feeling,” Macinnis said. “The yogathon helps me support a good cause. Even though the 108 sun salutations may seem intimidating, once you get going, there’s a good flow vibe and energy.”
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