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Back Home, Reflecting on Yin and Yang

Home Again

There’s the yin and yang of life in India – and then there’s the yin and yang of life in India versus life in America.

I’m back home (read Southern US city) after much too long, having skipped my last planned trip due to a critical work project.  It’s wonderful to be back! It smells heavenly. It looks heavenly – the beautiful, fresh green of spring again (although it feels more like summer) interspersed with fabulously blooming dogwoods. It feels and looks so clean and pristine – the air and the earth. 

Forgive me the effusive praise…this is what happens when you are gone for too long.

I ended up skipping the entire winter here which, as mild as it was this season, would still have meant the use of a heavy jacket at times so that doesn’t make me that sorry. Instead, I enjoyed the mild, pleasant, unseasonably and unnaturally cool weather of Mumbai’s winter of 2011-12 where temperatures ranged from the 50s to the 70s.

I’m back for a short visit now. 

Every day has been a catch up day, meeting with friends and work colleagues, sharing news, information and warmth.  One night, I was at a friend’s house for dinner.  Since it was a week night, we started and ended early – barely after 10 pm. I was driving back home and it really struck me then how different my two worlds really are.  There was virtually no one on the roads!  It was dead. At 10 pm! During Spring Break week, no less!

Where was even that hint of a cacophony of sounds that can overpower and overwhelm you in Mumbai?  The honking car horns, the revving autorickshaw engines, the barking dogs…and people, people, people everywhere – it doesn’t matter if it’s midday or midnight.

 And, wait a minute, was I actually missing that?!

I know that this is not a giant metropolis like Mumbai, but it’s not a tiny village either.  It’s a nice-sized, right-sized Southern cosmopolitan city. Undoubtedly, this is quiet and peaceful compared to Bombay.

But listen to what someone who lives in the heart of Manhattan had to say of his recent trip to Mumbai – It felt so quiet and peaceful in New York City immediately after I returned from Bombay”.  Yep!

Other than feeling mighty wonderful about being back home for a bit, it was difficult not to notice some sea changes that are occurring in the US of A. The softness of the market is more than palpable – everybody is affected by it in one way or the other. The issue of the day: Jobs.

That usual American optimism is noticeably tempered, no matter who you talk to or what media you are reviewing. I wonder to myself, is this reversible?  Yes, of course it is.  This is part of the cycle that this country seems to go through every few decades…although most people’s memories don’t go back far enough to find a period as hard as this one has been.

And then, of course, there’s the upcoming election.

As Republicans converge onquantum Romneyas their candidate of choice, it will be an interesting time leading up to the election – which I will be missing and watching from across continents…:-(

No prizes for guessing what I want the outcome to be!

And Home Again

Too soon, it will be time to return to Mumbai and India where I will once again get immersed in the unique atmosphere and environment that can only be found there.

The yin and the yang... never let it be said that I don’t recognize how  fortunate I am to be living and experiencing both.

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Photos:

City Park View: By Richard Bitting [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 Autorickshaws in Mumbai: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil

Yoga: The Magic of Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar means Sun Salutation and it is one of the most comprehensive of yoga asanas. It consists of a series of twelve separate asanas or postures  (an advanced variation can be done with 16 or 18 steps) and it truly works every muscle in the body. Made more famous recently in India by Bollywood actors who use it to maintain their girlish figures, it has caught on as a healthy weight loss strategy.

I’m glad to have taken advantage of one of the benefits of living in India – learning yoga, which I have been doing for the past 3 months. Not that you can’t do the same elsewhere, such as in the U.S., where yoga’s popularity continues to soar. But the really cool benefit is that I can (afford to) have a personal yoga teacher who comes home three mornings a week to teach it. With this, I can get a personalized training session with individual attention paid where it is most needed – like all over, in my special case.

When I did my first surya namaskar, I thought I would die. And, I didn’t even do it correctly! Now, I have advanced to three “sets” – three surya namaskars where I repeat postures # 6,7,8 ten times each, for a total of 30 repeats. I still don’t do every posture correctly but there is undoubtedly a huge improvement in the state of my body. (And my mind). I can feel every darn muscle in my body str….etch….ing!

Here’s a great pictorial article of the 12 different postures – check it out so you can get an idea of what I am blabbering about. No doubt about it,I think it’s an amazing all-over body experience (that sometimes feels like an out-of-body experience!).

And to give you an idea of what muscles are worked during these various postures, here is a sampling of some of the postures (#6 which is not pictured below but is in the article above, is the toughest nut to crack!):

Posture #3

Posture #5

Posture #7

Posture #8

There are several ways to get the best out of doing Surya Namaskars:

1. You can repeat the entire set of asanas several times (Size Zero Kareena Kapoor purportedly does 100 of them every day!)

2. You can repeat some of the postures (like my torture, I mean, yoga teacher, makes me do with #s 6,7,8 – the hardest ones, if you please). Several times.

3. You can hold each position for several seconds – 30, 45, 60…the more you can hold, the better the results. Duh.

All of these variations can work wonders for you – not just physically, but mentally too.  Trust me.  

I just wish I had started learning yoga in my childhood. However, I have also discovered that it’s never too late to start – based on the difference that a mere 3 months (that’s only 36 hours in all; three classes a week) have made. 

You can’t underestimate the tremendous all-over benefits that you gain!  

And of all the yoga you can ever do, I can safely say, Surya Namaskar is the most and the best – a tortuous but magical series of yoga postures that work everything.  The yin and the yang. Give it a try, won’t you?

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Photos By http://theholisticcare.com [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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