108 Sun Salutes: Presentation to Sunrise Rotary

The Sunrise Rotary Club asked me to speak about 108 Sun Salutes. Here’s what I said:



My name is Jon Sookocheff.

I’m the Manager of the Entrepreneur Development Centre at Medicine Hat College.

I’m married to the ever amazing Nancy Bassendowski and together we have two daughters, Gwendolyn, age 2, and Eleonora, age eight weeks.

They’re both super cute.

We have a dog and a cat, too.

Plus, I’m a director at Medalta.

I don’t mention all of this to brag.

Only to say that I’m busy.

Just like you.

Which is why 108 Sun Salutes is so important to me.

It’s my passion project.

A 27-year mission to do 108 sun salutes, 108 times, to help families affected by addiction and violence.


I started 108 Sun Salutes on July 3, 2012 with a simple blog post.

Here’s what I wrote:

Last week I had a brainwave. What if I completed the 108 sun salutation celebration 108 times?

I did some quick figuring.

They say you do the 108 sun salutation celebration on the first day of each new season. There are four seasons in a year. 108 / 4 = 27. So… it takes 27 years to complete 108 sun salutation celebrations 108 times. I’m 33 years old today. 33 + 27 = 60. I’ll be 60 years old in 27 years. There’s still time.

That gave me another brainwave. What if I donate 27 years’ worth of 108 sun salutation celebrations?

I did some more figuring.

A modest fundraiser can generate $400.  That gives me a low ball estimate of $43,200. It adds up quickly. There are literally thousands of worthwhile initiatives desperately in need of funds. I can help.

By now many of you are probably asking yourselves, “What’s a Sun Salute?”

Let me show you.


Now that you know what a sun salute is, you’re probably asking yourselves another question, “Why would anyone want to do 108 sun salutes, 108 times?”

To be honest with you, I didn’t have a good reason for starting this project.

It was just a brainwave I had one day after watching a documentary called Big River Man, about this lunatic from Estonia who swam the entire length of the Amazon River.

Something about that documentary inspired me to something crazy I could call my own.

That’s all it was.

I just wanted to do something.

It wasn’t until after I started that I figured out the reason why.


The number one reason why I’m doing 108 sun salutes 108 times is to honour my dad who died from alcoholism.

He was taken before his time.

My dad is my why.

He never got to try yoga.

I can’t say that it would have made a difference in his life.

All I know is that it’s made a difference in mine.

I firmly believe that yoga is one of the most powerful tools we humans have to improve our mind, body and spirit.

I want to spread the message that if yoga has helped me, then maybe it can help you, too.


The second reason I’m doing this is to build a community.

As they say in Africa, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

So even though I’m doing this as a personal challenge, I’ve organized it as a group fundraiser.

Every time I do 108 sun salutes, I invite the local yoga community to join me.

First, I ask the crowd to help spread the word via social media using #108sunsalutes.

Then, I enlist a small army of volunteers to assist with greetings, music, photography, and so on – the usual event stuff.

Whoever shows up to do 108 sun salutes throws $20 into the pot and we pass it on to a local charity.

So far we’ve raised $1,970 plus assorted supplies, food and other donations for various charities in Medicine Hat and beyond.


The third reason I’m doing this is inspired by my work at the Entrepreneur Development Centre.

I want this project to inspire others to take a risk and do the thing they always wanted to do – write a book, start a business, get back in shape, you name it.

I want to learn what it takes to start something and share my story along the way.

I want to be living proof that you don’t need permission to follow your dreams.

You don’t need money, you don’t need a committee and you don’t need a plan.

All you need is a half-baked idea and the willingness to fail.

Then you go out into the world and you do and you do and you do and if you’re smart and you get lucky then you succeed.


That said, I do have some goals for 108 Sun Salutes.

Obviously, I want to finish my personal challenge and do 108 sun salutes, 108 times, to help families affected by addiction and violence.

But I have another goal, too.

At the moment 108 Sun Salutes is 100% local.

It’s just me and a handful of volunteers doing what we can in our spare time.

I want 108 Sun Salutes to  spread to 108 cities around the world.

I guess that’s why I agreed to speak this morning.

I think you can help me achieve my goals.

First things first, follow me on Twitter and help spread the word.

Even better, accept my challenge and join me for 108 Sun Salutes #9.

It takes place September 23 at 7:00 pm on the roof of the Esplanade.


Thank you for listening.

It’s been an honour and a privilege to share my story with you this morning.

I’m happy to take any questions.

Thanks again.


Last week I posted three things that I’m thankful for. It worked so well that I’m going to start a new tradition. This week I’m thankful for:

  • The rain – the grass needed it
  • Mastery in the form of a strategic planning session and also via my friendly neighbourhood stereo repairman
  • Project completion – I finished a major project at work and now it’s time to start planning for phase three

All in all, it’s been a purposeful week. I took the time Monday morning to plan the week. This one simple thing helped me get unstuck. Plus, I wrote a short blog post every day. I let go of the idea that I’m blogging for an audience and started blogging for myself. I’m not feeling stuck anymore.

Being appreciative, planning for the future, and writing regularly helped me understand that I don’t need to scale back so long as I’m living on purpose and practicing contentment.


“To become a master at any skill, it takes the total effort of your heart, mind, and soul working together in tandem.” – Maurice Young

Yesterday I experienced mastery in two different forms.

The first was work-related. I attended a day-long appreciative enquiry session facilitated by fellow colleagues. After months of preparation, the facilitators tackled their work with enthusiasm and verve. The day went off without a hitch.

The second was personal. I visited a stereo repairman to get my turntable and receiver serviced. He walked me through every single component of my equipment with patience and passion. I learned more in an hour than I could have learned in two months of internet research.

In both cases, the experience of mastery excluded all other options. It was an all-consuming experience that left me energized and excited. It was, in the words of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a flow experience.

Indeed, mastery is making the choice to focus wholeheartedly on completing the task at hand.