Yesterday I did 108 Sun Salutations. Spring is here!
It’s not the first time I’ve done 108 Sun Salutations, 108 Vinyasas or 108 prostrations, but it was the first time I haven’t counted. Yesterday I let go, and had faith in my teacher to do the counting for me. I tried to breathe through each salute as if it was the first, or the last, and let go of my need for control. It sort of worked.
Doing 108 Sun Salutations is as much an exercise of the mind as it is of your physical body and your breath, and boy did my mind try to play games with me. In the past I’ve done them in sets of 12, so you know that there are nine sets and you get a break after every 12. Yesterday, I just breathed. Without my glasses on, I counted even see the 108 flowers on the mirror, one of which was taken down after each flow, no way of knowing how far I’d come, or how far I had to go.
It’s interesting to observe where my mind goes, when my body is pushed, there’s sweat pouring from me, and I’m in a room with forty two other dripping people. I thought about work, I thought about my past, I thought about my future, I let the thoughts come, and I let the thoughts go, trying to come back to my breath, and only my breath.
There was also a constant battle going on between my mind and my body, as I worked to find the balance between pushing myself, and killing myself. After five years of yoga I usually know the difference.
It started with my feet, they hurt, they felt crampy, “maybe you should just take a break”, said a part of my mind. Then it was my calves, and my hamstrings, aching, and a part of my mind saying “maybe you should just give up”. Other parts of my mind fought back, I knew I could do this, I’d done it before, I deepened my breath, deepened my resolve, and my teacher put on the Spice Girls. Definitely not the most reverent or bliss inducing choice, but the absolute perfect thing to give me the energy to keep going.
I danced my way through the next three songs.
Then it got hotter, or it felt like it was. I began to modify my Sun Salutations, proud of myself for getting through so many, as I’ve always modified all of them in the past.
My body is amazing.
I started to shiver despite how hot I was, and started wondering if this was a symptom of heat stroke, even though I know it isn’t, and besides, I was still dripping away. And all of a sudden in amongst the aches, the shivers, the sweat, and the back and forth in my mind, we were down to our last 12. Deep breaths. Jump Backs. Counting out loud. Rihanna. Gaga.
It was over.
I lay in savasana and decided not to move. I was overwhelmed with the heat, and the physical effort and the emotional battle. But, there was a smile on my face, and there is now as I write this. We do this all so that we can come back to savasana. How amazing does savasana feel after a practice like this.
The final mind battle was the urge to flee from the room. In the wise part of my mind I know that the longer the savasana the better, after all that exertion and all that breathing. Other parts of me though just wanted out, to be cool, to have salt, to have sugar, to have anything that wasn’t savasana in a hot room. And I breathed, and I waited, until I slowly left the room and joined some of my Sangha as we sat and shared our joy.