Saturdays in India are for honoring Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god. I learned this during my first visit to an Indian gym, PDMBA Health Club. An entire gym of 50 locals joined together in a Hindu prayer to ask Hanuman for bravery and physical strength. Other than the early morning devotion, this Pune, India gym appeared similar to an american gym. India is a land where the natural world and spirituality are inseparable, as evident in the divine in this animal form.
Close to the gym, Hanuman Tekdi (hill) was bustling with runners, hikers, yogis, and any Hanuman worshiper. I was relieved to walk away from constant traffic and honking horns with my local friend, Suchitra.
We hiked up this beautiful green, rocky hill to find two temples built for Hanuman at its summit. I asked Suchitra why there was a kids’ playground and a stage next to the temple. The monkey bars and gymnastics rings were not for child’s play, but for an adult’s conditioning set to build physical strength under Haneman’s grace. So of course that was not a stage, but a place to lay yoga mats – worship Haneman through asanas (yoga postures), while praying for physical fitness.
Back at the gym, preceding the group prayer to Hanunman, Dr. Anand Godse, spoke about how Surya Namaskaar (sun salutation) is great for stress reduction and relaxation. This brilliant psychologist wrote his entire dissertation on the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of this series of yoga postures or asanas. At the end of his lecture a body builder stood up to demonstrate the yoga poses with Dr. Godse. By the way, this body builder is muscular solely because of his daily practice of 100 (50 right side, 50 left side) sun salutations! I observed incredible physical strength of the modeled yoga postures. More impressive was the impressive reverence and calmness to these men’s Hanuman day’s morning workout through Surya Namaskaar. .
This was the calmest gym and hilltop I’ve ever been to! India is a fascinating country that sees spirituality in everything – gyms, hilltops, and animals.
-PDMBA gym for welcoming me this morning.
-Dr. Godse for sharing your knowledge.
-Suchitra Naidu for showing me around this weekend.