Do you pray?

I never used this term, as I related it to religion and I thought, people pray in a church, mosque, temple or on their own to their god. I even had issues with the term god, as I don’t belong to a religion and don’t believe in god. 

Even if this is still the same, my attitude made a full turn-around when I went to India for my teacher training first time and saw how open and easy people deal with their gods (yes they have more) and how they pray. I learned about the Hindu gods, and I love all the stories around them, colorful and beautiful analogies. And I like that they have a name, a family, a face, a body, certain things around them and everything is representing something important in life. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. They seem real. Even with a lot of arms and other magical attributes.

India took away the strictness and tightness I saw in religion as such and showed me a world full of openness, laughter, ease and same time seriousness. I learned to put my hands in prayer in front of my heart center during my yoga practice and nothing felt wrong with it. It wasn’t religious, it felt and still feels as a ritual.

However I still replace the term god with universe when reading a spiritual text and I still don’t pray, but strongly believe, it’s just a matter of definition. I recite mantras, I talk to the universe, I challenge the law of attraction, I ask and give thanks to my angles.

Well, guess some would call it praying. 

What’s the magic about 108?

Have you ever heard about this number? It has many important and symbolic meanings in diverse disciplines ranging from mathematics to religions and spiritual practices, martial arts, yoga and you even find it in buildings and temples. It appears to have been a mystical number back in the day.

In yoga, the number 108 refers to spiritual completion – it seems to have an essence that connects us to the whole.

Can a number connect us to our place in the cosmic order? 

You will find tons of examples where the number 108 appears, but asking for why 108, we’re thrown back to believes and interpretations rather than proof points.

Let’s have a look to where we find this magic number:

  • Based upon the sacred cycle of 108 yogis practice once a year, usually at spring equinox or to honor the international yoga day 108 Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutations)
  • 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and Yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead”). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra.
  • Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence.
  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet; each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times two is 108.
  • Stages of the soul: Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • There are said to be a total of 108 nadis (energy lines) in the body converging to and from Anahata, the heart chakra.
  • In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • 108 degrees Fahrenheit is the internal temperature at which the human body’s vital organs begin to fail from overheating.
  • 1 = God or higher Truth
    0 = emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice
    8 = infinity or eternity

Does 108 has any meaning for you? Without really thinking about it, my number of luck has always been 9 and some years ago I figured out, that 9 is also my number following the Mayan astrology. 1 + 0 + 8 = 9, here we go….

What does yoga mean to you?

This is what I asked my students in yesterdays’ classes to think about. The answer doesn’t matter, just think about what yoga mean to YOU. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad, it’s about being aware of what it is for you. I like the idea on a day like this – international yoga day – to visualize millions of people all over the world practicing, same time, same day. It makes me feel connected. Connected to a community that is real, but same time not tangible, as the wider relation is rather mind based.

“But how many people know exactly what yoga is?” asks Dr Manmath Gharote, director of the Lonavla Yoga Institute, located south-east of Mumbai. “Integration of personality is the prime aim of yoga.” The five aspects of “personality” which “should work harmoniously,” he told BBC Radio 4, are physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. The physical aspects of yoga – which improve flexibility of the spine, joints and muscles – are important, he adds, but the function of “asanas” (postures) are ultimately to benefit the mind. (Quote from BBC World News)

What does yoga mean to you? Take a moment and think about it, without judging. If yoga is your fitness tool, excellent. If yoga is your entry point to your spiritual practice, great. Anything in between, wonderful. Yoga has a plenty of variety to offer and it’s up to you how you want to benefit. For me yoga is about discovering Svatma, my true nature. Connect to myself, immerse into myself sometimes feels like the world stops. It’s just me, sometimes not even that, while my light starts shining.