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… 🙂
Yes, I’m a big fan (fanatic, actually) of Surya Namaskar. But, as I g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y inch my way (that should be “de-inch” my way 🙂 ) towards the first anniversary of my love story with yoga, I have discovered that there is so much more to it than I had imagined.
Every time I write a post on yoga, I think, “this will be the last one“. And somehow, lo and behold, that’s just not the case. I’m no yoga instructor. If fact, I bear closer resemblance to a yoga neophyte, so what the heck am I doing writing about yoga?
Well, I am a fan and all charged up about yoga, but more importantly, I’m a beneficiary. So, I hope, whoever you are, you get to be one too – whether today or someday. Call it my amateur attempt to ‘spread the wealth’.
This post goes outside my comfort zone of my fave, Surya Namaskar. The focus is four (just four!) different postures that are fast becoming favorites too.
If you think that the reason that these are favorites is because I just love to do them or that I do them so awesomely well, let me set that impression right for you.
These have all been more than just a little challenging for my naturally (poor!) rigid body.
No, the reasons that they are favorites are quite different –
- One, it’s simply fascinating for me that someone of my ilk, with my inherent inflexibility, can actually show such incredible improvement physically (when I apply myself regularly). So, I have now learned never to take my body for granted. It is absolutely true when I say that no other form of exercise made me this aware of our bodies’ innate versatility.
- And two, like I said I am a beneficiary. So, what have I gained? Just all the benefits that I describe below. Awesome!
One benefit is achieving greater flexibility. The other is losing inches by toning these parts of the body and turning fat into muscle. Moreover, you are strengthening these important part of your body while gaining stamina because you are doing these yoga poses regularly (assuming you choose to!). Last but not least, you gain so much mentally. It must be all those endorphins surging through the body after a yoga session. I personally feel indefatigable…and simply fabulous. So, it’s all SO worth it!
Back to the four, specific yoga poses – these work on the waist (love-handles!), back and abs.
First, let’s talk briefly about fat. There are two kinds – subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Here is my very short, non-technical definition of what these are – the former is just under the skin and is the one that is easier to lose. The latter is trapped within and between various organs within our body and is much, much harder to deal with.
The four postures I show below have become part of my regular yoga routine and the nice thing is that, together the attack both types of fat. Take it from me, the benefits have been tangible – you can see and feel the difference.
Is that enough of an incentive for you to start? Hmmmmmm….
Nouka asana or “boat pose” – Hold for several seconds; I started off holding this posture to the count of 40 and am now up to 150 (three sets). This gets to that tough visceral fat in your lower abdomen, while it strengthens and tones your back and stomach. Note the straight backbone – this is important.
Hala asana or “Plough pose”– Hold for several seconds; again, I started off holding to the count of 40 and am now up to 80 (two sets). Great for stretching and toning your stomach, upper and middle back. And you should not really need the support of your hands, leave your palms on the mat.
Trikonasana or “Triangle Pose” – Hold for several seconds; Start off with a count of 20 or 30 and progressively go up to 70-80-90 (two sets each side). Bend only the shoulders and press down the upper shoulder while holding. Works great on love handles (subcutaneous fat). You should feel pressure on both sides of your waist.
Side-bend Chakra Asana
Side-bend Chakra Asana – Hold for several seconds; Start off with a count of 30 go up to 70-80-90 (two sets each side). Bend only the shoulders and press down with your upper shoulder while holding. You should move nothing else. This works great on love handles (subcutaneous fat) too.
It’s important to do these postures correctly in order to make a dent on those body parts. These pictures tell the right story on what “correct” means but there are online videos, DVDs, books and yoga classes to make it all come together for you. Make these part of your regular yoga routine too. You won’t be sorry!
In addition, there are so many great online resources on yoga. It would be shame if you don’t check them out and take advantage of them. Here’s a new one that I found that contains pictures and videos of many of the yoga poses.
An important last note – If these look difficult for you to do, you only need to do as much as your body allows each time. The best part is that, with every additional time that you do these postures, your body allows you to do more. And more. And so it goes…this is really the absolute best part of yoga.
Do me a favor. Don’t think so much. Just. Go. For. It.
Photo Credit of Yoga Reflections – By Judith from london, UK (Yoga Reflections) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons