Happy 2011! We made it! Read this yogadork’s tale of victory over 108 New Year’s Day Sun Salutations. Full post featured at YogaCityNYC:
Why do 108 Sun Salutations on January 1st, the day after one of the biggest celebratory nights of the year? The challenge! Yes, of course! If you can last through 108 rounds of sweatied sun saluting following a night of partying to the wee hours, you can certainly take on anything life throws at you the entire year!
Besides, you know all those terrible things you did in 2010? Here’s your chance for penance before you repeat all those terrible things in 2011. Just kidding! But honestly, if you’ve ever participated in the yogi marathon of Surya Namaskars, you might agree it’s as close to a retributional act as they come, and for this particular yogadork, 108 rounds of anything the day after New Year’s merrymaking is like running a 25K after St Patrick’s Day, barefoot, on your hands. And I’m part Irish.
I entered Yoga High the site of my self-imposed tapas, with gloves off, sidled up next to my fellow yogi warriors closely packed in on either side. Clearly, I was not the only yogi with dogged determination. Everyone had their games faces on. We can do this. It’s the start of a new year. New opportunities! New challenges! 108 Sun Salutes can’t be that bad.
Mel, co-owner and our fearless guide into the brave new year, gave a brief introduction explaining the significance of the number 108, and a pep talk/warning that we were in for some real transformation (translation: incredibly demanding physical practice) reminding us to take breaks when needed. It didn’t hurt that her t-shirt read “Ahimsa” as she encouraged us all to set an intention for ourselves, maybe something that would stick throughout the year, or at least through the battle of the next 2 hours.
Three powerful Oms and we were off! Mel put a welcomed twist on plain old Sun Salutes, leading us instead through 12 rounds of 9 at a time, starting with sun breaths to warm up and interspersing Surya A, with modified knees-chest-chin, Surya C (opening to Warrior 2) and Surya B, leaving momentary breaks in between to sneak in 5 blessed breaths. With the meditative nature of the movement, your body starts to transition between autopilot and “are we there yet?”. Also, “did I really volunteer for this? What number are we on? Is she counting correctly? She totally lost count. What’s my intention again?”
Lucky for us, Mel, famous for her class playlists got us through sticky parts with crowd pumpers like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, “Stronger” by Kanye West and “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones. By the time we reached what felt like eternity (but was just a little over halfway) Freddie Mercury’s spirited “don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time” prompted both snickering and refreshed vigor. We powered on with gusto, sweating out those toxins. Oh, there was sweating indeed. And chafing, blistering, moaning, groaning, cheering and applause. The energy was palpable, but you couldn’t even smell the remains of last night’s liquor through our ujjayi breath.
Finally, two hours, 108 Surya Namaskars, two toe blisters, and 16 gallons of sweat later we all settled into the mercifully extended Savasana with a great sense of accomplishment. We made it!
Was it all worth it? What I learned at my first New Year’s Day yogathon, whether doing it for yourself, for someone else, a specific cause, or for world peace (which you start to tell yourself around number 95), the 108 challenge takes a barrel of courage and commitment to make it through, and perhaps that’s the point. My body will surely feel it for the next few days, but that air of achievement will linger for a long while after, longer than any tasty libation buzz, intentions intact.