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Posts Tagged ‘yoga benefits’

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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Tonight will be my ninth yoga class in a row. My co-worker was asking me this morning how it is going, if I am noticing any changes physically or mentally. I joked that I am a little less irritated in the morning at having to structure my day around my fuchsia yoga mat, but joking aside, have I noticed any changes?

For starters, it has just become second nature to grab my yoga clothes and mat when I head to work in the morning and, although a bit premature, I am already contemplating whether or not I can/will carry out this routine beyond the intended 40 days.

I have noticed that my mind is happily taking a break during each class. I, like many folks, am a worrier. If I run out of things to ponder and mull over in my head, I find new things. Relax is a foreign word that my brain translates only on official vacation. The rest of the year is spent jamming as many things and thoughts into it as possible. With a personal motto of living life to the fullest, I do so with such vigor that I tend to think more about what is next, instead of what is now. That being said, one of my personal goals is to take the feeling of being ‘present’ out of the yoga studio and into my day-to-day life.

I am consciously eating less crap. Even during that time of the month where I typically flourish on chocolate ice cream and salt and vinegar chips (this is a remarkable feat just in itself). Last week I was invited to Dairy Queen for a treat, and I passed. I went to a scary movie and turned down popcorn, even though at the very least, it would have been useful to hide behind.

I am bending just a smidge more with every breath. I receivyogaed my father’s denim in the flexibility department. I don’t bend. At the beginning of class, I am the one bent over waving at my feet from a distance. The good news is though, that I am noticing a difference. With every exhale I do sink a little deeper and slowly, but surely, I will get there.

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