International Yoga Day 2020

108 Surya Namaskars sounded enticing, but I wondered if I should go for it. I do practice Yoga regularly – three days a week, to be precise but the last time I participated in such marathon Surya Namaskars was more than two years ago. At that time, I used to practice Yoga under the guidance of trained and professional Yoga teachers. And, it is to them I owe my love and devotion for Yoga. The passion and dedication of my Yoga teachers easily rubbed off on me. That I confidently continue my practice to this day, on my own, is because of them.

Yoga is a holistic life philosophy that unites the body, mind, and spirit through Asanas (physical postures), Pranayamas (breathing exercises), and meditation. Yoga is as much about the mind and the spirit, as it is of the body. It is a powerful way to deal with everyday stress and anxiety. Consequently, Yoga does become a significant tool for the year 2020, where a healthy mind and body is of paramount importance.

Yoga Asanas involve specific breathing techniques and ideally should be practiced under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher, especially at the beginning. Yoga Asanas, if done incorrectly can cause more harm than good. Though Internet provides hordes of articles, guides, and videos that one can learn from, nothing can replace the guidance of a real teacher. There are many subtle specifications that sometimes vary from individual to individual and often depends on one’s flexibility and body type. Such minute observations and corrections come through experience, which is only possible through individualized attention from a trained and qualified teacher.

1304604660_1383933121
Pic Credit: http://www.modernagespirituality.com

When I had started Yoga five years back, I was extremely inflexible. Not that I am great today, but my teachers made sure I understood my body and correctly did the stretching, bending, twisting, and so on. Had it not been for them, I would have long given up. Yoga doesn’t bear fruit overnight. It’s not just a set of exercise. One needs to be patient. Today Yoga is part of my life, I cannot stay without it.

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Today, the 21st of June, is International Yoga Day. The theme for this year is “Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home”. My Yoga Teacher conducted a virtual session of 108 Surya Namaskars along with chanting and meditation. I was delighted to know about it but the number 108 made me hesitate. Will I be able to pull it off? A little deliberation and I just signed up.

The marathon Surya Namaskars turned out to be pretty smooth, and I did all of it with super ease. A confidence booster for sure, if not anything else!

Surya Namaskar also known as Surya Pranam or Sun Salutation is a set of 12 Yoga Asanas that are gracefully sequenced together. Six distinct Asanas are repeated twice during the sequence. The first set of six is dedicated to the right side of the body and the next set to the left side of the body. Surya Namaskar is done to express gratitude to the Sun for sustaining life on earth and has an immensely positive impact on the mind and body. It is a great cardiovascular workout too.

I have another post on 108 Surya Namaskars. You'll find it here.

Lighting Up the Mind at Diwali

A couple of years ago I received the famous spiritual book “Autobiography of a Yogi” as a gift from a friend. I wasn’t delighted and my immediate response – why have you given me this; what am I supposed to do with this; I am not interested; maybe when I am in my 60s – was well camouflaged behind a polite smile and a thank you.

However, things changed much sooner than I had expected as I discovered not just this book but also many others. Each book that I read influenced me deeply and left me yearning for more. Thankfully, I did not have to wait until in my 60s.

This weekend I attended a Satsang (a spiritual discourse or gathering), which was conducted by the author of one of the books I had read. I had never attended a Satsang before, at least not one that I remember. I might have casually been to one two but I really do not recall attending any deliberately. It was a wonderfully spent three hours spread across three day leaving behind a sense of peace and clam.

Diwal11

The place of these sessions was substantially far from my house and I surprised myself with the enthusiastic anticipation I had each day. The ill-famous Bangalore traffic, which is always a big put-off, also did not seem to bother me. Stuck at a traffic signal, I wondered if someone would have asked me to do something like this even two years back I would have snapped back giving them a piece of my mind thinking that they are out of their minds.

It’s amazing how times change faster than we think while often times we continue living in the illusion of permanence.

Concentration and focus are not easy to find today with all the distractions at our fingertips. However, I found myself mindfully present, consciously aware, and very carefully imbibing every little message that came along with the stories and anecdotes. Ever since I have been feeling very positive and happy.

The Satsang also reminded me of a time in office when I was part of a team that was designing leadership trainings and one of those was about mindfulness and the neuroscience behind it – how our brain responds to positivity and mindfulness. The nuggets of knowledge that I had gained during that time stayed with me and I have practiced many of those effectively in my daily life. It is the connection of science and spirituality in a well-meaning way and the very little exposure I have had makes me feel immensely grateful.

With Diwali celebrations underway there are lights everywhere, I thought how wonderful it would be if we could ‘lighten’ our minds as well! With this thought in mind, I am jotting down five key takeaways from the Satsang that I hope I can implement in my everyday life:

  1. Differentiate between good and pleasant. Always choose good over pleasant. While some good things will be pleasant as well but not all pleasant things are necessarily good.
  2. Lead a life of awareness and strive to remove the ‘I’. Be aware of yourself – aware of everything you say, do, or think.
  3. Practice mindfulness and do everything you do with complete focus and concentration.
  4. Set aside 10 min each day to sit quietly and do nothing. Reflect and practice thoughtlessness during that time.
  5. Live a life of moderation and aim to touch the divine essence in you, that which is limitless, that which is real, and that which lies within you.