The first anniversary of learning yoga is approaching this month; incidentally it is happening soon after the completion of my first year of living in India.
So, my yoga trainer decided (unilaterally!) that before the first year was up that I and my yoga buddy needed to have at least one session where we each did one hundred Surya Namaskars – aiming for a major milestone to celebrate the occasion. But we were not the only ones who were going for the gold. We roped him in to join us on the ‘marathon’ [I know I exaggerate, but that’s what it felt like] session.
Today being a Sunday allowed for the extra time needed for this feat. So, it was D-day and what a session this was! With very little warm-up, we started counting down.
Can you imagine how it felt after completing that first Surya Namaskar? Yep, “99 to go”. Whew. 😦
The trick was to pace ourselves and divide the larger goal of one hundred Surya Namaskars into sets of ten each. That made it easier to digest – physically and mentally. We averaged about 7 or 8 minutes per set and gave ourselves “generous” breaks between the sets of about 3 minutes each. Enough for a few sips of water and to wipe the dripping sweat off our red faces.
As you may know, each Surya Namaskar is a set in itself – of 12 asanas or postures.
So that means we did 1200 asanas today!
Can you guess how we all felt after completing the 100th one? Unbelievably exhilarated!
I must say it was tough going though. I had done up to 75 in one go (once) – and that was months ago. Since then, my regular class routine has included only 20 or 30 of them, so this felt (really felt!) like a major mountain to climb.
According to our teacher, in addition to getting all the benefits of Surya Namaskar, we could also assume our body had received the benefits of having done something like:
- 40 crunches,
- 50 squats and
- 150 push-ups.
Here’s my personal lesson learned after one year of yoga:
Never, ever underestimate what your body is capable of – no matter how stiff, unused to exercise, dormant or tired it may be…
And the Yoga (if that’s your cuppa tea) bonus:
It works great on energizing your mind too.
Back to the countdown, here’s some of what I told myself during the grueling session:
1. Just do this one…don’t worry about what’s coming next (and next and next…). You can do it.
2. It’s all in your mind…of course, you can do it.
3. Plus my favorite – If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. You can do it.
4. Go ahead and visualize…the 80th one, the 90th, the 95th, the 99th, the 100th, and then…then, the bragging rights!
Thank you. You may applaud now. I think we deserve it, don’t you?. 😉
P.S. We have one more Sunday before that “first yoga anniversary” and there’s some talk about a repeat feat. But, don’t worry, I will resist hard about writing another post so you won’t have to hear me bragging all over again… 🙂
This One’s For Me
I hope that people who know me well will tell you that I’m generally a modest person and not really given to showing off. [I really hope…!].
Somehow, though, when it comes to me and my Surya Namaskars, that nice human quality seems to get thrown out the window. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can claim bragging rights without sounding like a braggart, and just may be, I have found a reasonable balance.
First, the bragging. This morning, I completed – are you ready for this? – seventy-five (that’s 75) Surya Namaskars! It was during my usual one hour morning yoga class that got extended by about 20 minutes so I could complete this feat. It took me – between huffing and puffing – roughly 85-90 minutes; that’s not counting the warm-up, 50 push-ups and 60 crunches (if I’m going to brag, may as well go whole hog) that my teacher made me complete.
My average Surya Namaskar was probably about a minute long, combined with a few minute-long breaks along the way. It was arduous. And exhilarating! For someone like me, an anti-fitness geek if you ever saw one – I just feel like I have earned my badge and bragging rights. What do you say?
That’s all I’m going to say about my totally unforeseen coup. [To understand why I call it that, you may want to read this]. Except for thanking my fantastic yoga teacher for always pushing me to the limits, and helping me get this far on my “yoga journey”. I know he’s already thought of what my next goal should be. Yikes!
And This Is For You
Now, for that balance I talked about, I thought I would give you a few more resources on the wonders of Surya Namasker to make this a useful post. Through this, I also hope to entice those of you not already on the yoga bandwagon to get started already!
What are you waiting for?
For starters, here’s another great video demonstrating Surya Namaskar. The first minute goes through one entire cycle consisting of the 12 asanas (or postures), followed by a few repetitions.
To recap, here are the primary benefits of Surya Namaskars (and yoga in general):
- Surya Namaskar’s 12 steps (or 16 or 18 step variation) works virtually every muscle group of your body – from your head to your toes.
- Its roots are found in yoga philosophy of vedic tradition and has been designed to strengthen mind and body.
- Each organ of the body is likewise exercised. It is to be combined with specific breathing techniques to enhance the value of its practice (the video above is a great demonstration of how you should breathe as you go through each step).
- It works on spinal alignment and corrects your posture.
- It strengthens the extensor muscles of your body. [An “extension” s a movement of a joint that results in increased angle between two bones or body surfaces at a joint. For example, extension is produced by extending the flexed (bent) elbow].
- A fantastic benefit is achieving flexibility of various parts of your body.
- The fast movements between postures creates agility while improving blood circulation. Likewise, a dull brain becomes active and the brooding mind gets refreshed.
- Yoga gives you energy. When you practice during mornings, you will find yourself energetic for the rest of the day.
- It’s great for losing weight and inches all over! That alone should be enough of an incentive for some.
You Should Go For It!
Ancient yogis prescribed the practice of Surya Namaskar centuries ago for gaining optimum physical and mental health with huge benefits such as these: building muscular strength and endurance, increased all-over flexibility, spinal alignment, better breathing capacity and stamina, reduced abdominal fat, enhanced metabolism and a refreshed mind.
What other form of exercise can claim to do all this? It’s all there for the taking.
Like I said before, what are you waiting for? Go for it. And become a braggart just like me. You would’ve earned it!
Photo Credit: By http://theholisticcare.com [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons