Posts Tagged ‘kundalini yoga’

The halfway point has come and gone. Only 14 days to go…but does anyone even know why forty is the number of choice in the Semperviva 40 Day Yoga Challenge? Why not 25 days of yoga, or 11, or 72? Figuring there must be more to the number forty than someone simply deciding that it had a good ring to it, I employed my good friend Google to get to the bottom of it.

To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.

~Arabic proverb

It seems that the number forty has several historic references. In ancient texts and the Bible, it is revered as the length of time required for enacting lasting change. Here is what I found:

Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. – Semperviva

In the Kundalini tradition, kriyas are often done for 40 days as it is believed that the 40 day time period is the minimum requirement for establishing a new routine. – Stanford.wellsphere.com

Forty days has historically been a significant time period in many world religions. In the Old Testament it rained for forty days and forty nights. In Christianity there are the forty days of Lent. Forty-day cycles are very important in the Sikh religion as well. Perhaps this is because your physical body renews all the cells in your bloodstream every forty days. For whatever reason, forty days has always been a mystical period of time. – http://manashchatterjee.vox.com/

The number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible and refers to a precise number, not just a long period of time. There are at least ten instances in the Old Testament and New Testament where 40 occurs, either in years or days, e.g. it rained for 40 days and 40 nights [during Noah’s flood], Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion. – Wikipedia

In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. The dead are usually mourned for forty days in Muslim cultures. Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel. The Quran says that a person is only fully grown when they reach the age of 40. – Wiktionary

Some non-spiritual references of the number 40 include (also taken from Wiki):

  • in the Saying “Life begins at forty”
  • in the expression “forty winks”, meaning a short sleep
  • the distance run in the 40 yard dash in American football scouting
  • the number of years of marriage as the ruby wedding anniversary
  • the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania
  • in the song “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, the lyrics state that “For forty days and for forty nights / the law was on her side” in reference to the Genesis story of Noah.
  • The Rolling Stones CD “Forty Licks”
  • “40”, a 1983 song by U2 from their album War
  • “40′” is the title of a song by Franz Ferdinand
  • lifespan of fruit fly is approximately 40 days
  • many distilled alcoholic beverages (such as vodka) contain approximately 40 percent alcohol by volume
  • the number of thieves in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, from Thousand and One Nights

So there you have it. A brief history of the number 40.


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I haven’t been to a yoga class probably since last winter. My exercise routine has consisted of indoor or beach volleyball once a week and the occasional bike ride. This fall my regular volleyball team fell apart, so I have been spending more time on the couch. When I saw an ad for Semperviva’s Forty Day Yoga Challenge I knew it was what I needed – an ass-kicking back into shape.40 Day Yoga Challenge

According to the Semperviva site: “Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. The Semperviva Challenge is a great way to strengthen the body, unburden the mind, and begin a daily commitment to yourself.”

My schedule is pretty hectic and I am a pretty spontaneous gal, so I really wasn’t sure how I would actually fit a yoga class in each day…I mean that is why I have never been good at sticking with yoga in the first place. Something always came up and my excuse to myself was that the class times weren’t convenient for me, which of course, is just lame.

I woke up the morning of the 40 Day Yoga Challenge launch a little hung-over and having slept in longer than I had planned. I arrived at Semperviva in yoga clothes (you never know some mornings), equipped with my mat. No water.

I pulled up a mat near the back of the room, knowing full well this session would be a challenge, in part, due to my long break away from yoga combined with a lack of self control the night before.

There must have been at least sixty people in the room. The mostly female crowd covered the full spectrum of body shapes, sizes and ages. It was nice to see. I have been to classes at other yoga centres where I felt like the sole purpose of the class was to one-up the next gal’s cutesy outfit or ensure maximum cleavage to catch the instructor’s eye…which, sadly seemed successful.

Thankfully, this class felt comfortable, if not for all the fabulous smiles beaming around the room. There was a buzz of excitement, anticipation and anxiousness.

The class was set-up as a quadruple taster of yin, hatha, power and kundalini styles of yoga as an introduction to those styles taught at Semperviva, with each 15-minute portion of the class taught by a different instructor. I had done hatha and power classes before, so I was pretty curious to experience the other two.

Yin was a nice slow warm-up, with each asana (pose) being held for several minutes in length – which by the way, might sound easy because it is slow, but can seriously make your limbs start to shake.

The Kundalini part of the class was like a ray of sunshine. More like a combination of yoga, dance and aerobics, it was fast-paced and supported by some really good beats to inspire the body to move. A few of the people in the class were obvious fans of Kundalini and didn’t hesitate to grin and encourage those around them to feel the movement and let go.

I have to admit, there was a point where my dehydrated body almost succumbed to this ass-kicking…to the point where I found myself mapping out an exit route (in between har’s and hari’s) to the washroom in the event that I needed to go die somewhere privately. But, I turned my brain off and danced with my rubbery arms and legs and got through it.

On the way out of the class, it was great to overhear people trading names and phone numbers as instant 40 Day Challenge support groups were formed. I am looking forward to making some friends along the way…and taking my first full Kundalini class this Friday!

Goals for this week, will be to devise a daily yoga schedule that I can manage and avoid the Dairy Queen on the way home.

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