Sunday, June 21, 2015

108 felt great!

Today is the International Day of Yoga, so when I woke up I did seven very thoughtful, slow, and somewhat painful sun salutations.  Only seven, why so few and why so slow and sore this morning?  Yesterday I joined a yoga mala practice at Claremont Yoga where we did 108 sun salutation in honor of the changing of seasons, just in time for the summer solstice.

I know 108 sounds crazy but the number holds significance. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra—much like the Catholic rosary.  Also According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body. 

Plus it was an excellent challenge, sort of a yoga marathon, if you will.  I’ve never been in a room with so much sweat, a good portion of that sweat was my own.  I found myself with a puddle at the back of my mat and by about number 70, I had to be careful when jumping back into plank that I didn’t slip.  There were quiet moments when holding a pose that you could literally hear the drip drop of sweat hitting the floor, it was raining inside the studio!  But what a cleansing experience, at one point when the sound of ujjayi breath resonated through the room, I hardly felt like I was doing anything.  My body moved and my inhale and exhale synchronized with the group, it was like the collective breath was moving me, I was just along for the ride.  

Of course our excellent teacher Nicole made the whole practice so manageable, breaking the 108 into 9 rounds of 12 salutations, each punctuated with a pose providing a break.  Our breaks consisted of more energetic poses like, handstands, arm balances and head stands toward the start of practice when we still had the strength for such endeavors and as the practice progressed we paused in standing poses like triangle or side angle eventually taking our brief one minute rests in the form of seated or reclining poses.  Nicole also helped to move the practice along with essential oils; lemon to invigorate us at the start, a peppermint spritz to cool us during the sweatiest of times, and in savasana she treated us by placing a cool stone on our third eye and rubbing our shoulders with lavender.  I left my practice feeling spacey but all shiny and happy. 

Yesterday was a busy day, in addition to the two hour yoga mala practice, I started the day with a short 2 mile run, and taught a kids yoga class.  Later in the day we were off to a gig that Greg played at a Craft Brewers Festival in old town Upland. While the days have been long and hot and we find ourselves languishing in the sometimes stifling embrace of summer, see if you can find a moment to appreciate the amazing gifts bestowed on us by the sun.  Whether it is that ripe peach from the farmer’s market that makes it’s way to your breakfast table or a balmy walk around the neighborhood after dinner as the sun slips below the horizon, we can all find ways to honor the powerful forces of nature that surround us and make our lives on this planet possible. 

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