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.

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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.

Learn more about Surya Namaskars from this comprehensive post written by fellow blogger, Narayan Kaudinya.

Those Marathon 108 Surya Namaskars

I am a huge advocate of yoga and have been practicing the same for more than three years now. Yoga happened to me quite by chance and it wasn’t much of a planned thing.

I was on my way to a swimming school to enroll for swimming classes when I happened to cross Yogatree – a Yoga center nearby. I noticed the board without paying any heed to it. At the swimming school, I paid the fees and enrolled for lessons that were due to begin the following week. Just two days before the due date, the swimming school called up to cancel classes for the next two months due to an immediate maintenance work of the pool. Yogatree flashed in my mind at that moment for no particular reason. I looked them up on Google and found myself there the very next day.

That was the beginning of my introduction to the magical and fascinating world of Yoga. And, with the bunch of dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic teachers, the love that I imbibed for Yoga was quite natural. Today Yoga has become a way of life for me.

The location advantage of Yogatree suited me very well – just 2 Km. from my house meant less haggling with the infamous Bangalore traffic. In fact, I would walk my way down to class and back. The two great friends I made there were unexpected add-ons that further brightened up my Yoga experience. The three of us would look forward to those four days a week of catching up and practicing together.

Due to some personal situational difficulties I haven’t been going to class for the past three months. While I am religiously practicing the asanas at home, I miss my yoga class for various reasons. One of those is the 108 Surya Namanskars that we would practice every once in a while – usually on weekends.

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Surya Namaskar also known as Surya Pranam or Sun Salutation, for the uninitiated, 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.

When I heard about 108 Surya Namaskars for the first time, which was just within a month of joining Yogatree, I thought this was crazy and undoable. However, on the insistence of my teacher I participated in my first session of 108 Surya Namaskars. The thought was daunting and I was absolutely sure I wouldn’t cross even 25 rounds. But to my surprise I was able to complete the entire session. We did it in sets of 9 and though I did miss a round or two here and there I sustained through to the end of the session.

I was immensely proud of myself and it gave a boost to my confidence as my flexibility was really bad then. Not that it’s great now, but I have hugely improved. After that, I always ensured that I made myself available for every 108 Surya Namaskar sessions.

However, for the last three months I have been missing those marathon Surya Namaskars as I have been practicing at home. I can mindfully do 10-12 Surya Namaskars at a time but 108 just doesn’t happen. I lose my focus and haven’t been successful yet.

Hoping that circumstances will change sooner than later and I can get back to class again.

An Addendum:

The number 108 has a special significance and is considered sacred. I googled to find some.

  • The numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 thus represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.
  • Vedic mathematicians considered 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. 108 also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
  • Prayers malas have 108 beads.
  • There are 108 pithas or sacred sites in India.
  • In Hindu tradition, there are 108 Mukhya Shivaganas or attendants of Shiva.
  • Lord Krishna had 108 gopis in Vrindavan.
  • The Sri Vaishnavite Tradition has 108 Divya Desams (temples of Vishnu)

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Post in response to the theme for Bar-A-Thon: The Blogging Marathon