Monday evening, my yoga teachers sent an email saying that, as a tribute to the Fall Equinox, she would love to deviate from our usual class. Yoga class would be held at our local beach, first thing in the morning and we would do…108 sun salutations.
108 is an esteemed number in Hinduism and in yoga. Mala beads (akin to the Catholic rosary beads) contain 108 beads, plus one. The “guru bead” is the extra, around which the other 108 turn, as the planets to the Sun. 108 is also a number that connects the Sun, Moon, and planets. The average distance of the Sun and Moon to Earth is 108 times their diameters (who figures this stuff out?). And finally, there are 108 sacred sites in India and also 108 sacred places on the human body (no comment).
Thus, 108 sun salutations to welcome the Fall Equinox, a time when we are 12 hours with light and 12 hours with darkness. In balance, hopefully.
I responded quickly to the email, as I’m usually game for any new yoga experience. But as soon as I hit that send button, I thought “What the heck did I just agree to?”, quickly followed by “Can I actually do this?”.
It turned out to be a morning of happy surprises. Firstly, when I woke up it was cold and dark. I though for sure that time spent at the beach would be a chilly and somewhat unpleasant one, salutations aside. On went the layers and I soon started fantasizing how good a hot coffee would taste at the completion of class. Would the sand be cold, too?
Get to the beach. Sun! Brilliant, blazing sun, virtually no breeze. Sand was warm. Off came the layers! Happy!
The salutations began. I thought I’d give myself a time limit, as I wasn’t sure I had the mental or physical capacity for close to an hour and a half of salutating (new word, ha). But then we started rolling….Blocks of 27. Two variations to the Sun Salutations to keep things a bit more interesting.
“Third quarter” had us huffing and feeling extremely challenged and I wondered when the exact moment would be that my upper arms and hamstrings would both burst into flame. One doesn’t often witness spontaneous combustion on a public beach.
Time passed. I stuck with it. Seagulls chimed in (I like to the think they were cheering us on), waves rolled in gently. Focus was at a supreme high, I realized afterwards. I was thinking of *nothing* but counting and doing. Mala mediation via the Sun. Divine and empowering.
Holy cow (holy mala!)…could it be? We did it! All 108 of them! We raised our arms (slowly, painfully) and gave ourselves some applause. Oh my goodness. I did it. Something that I really, really did not think I could (typically in class we do about 8-10 salutations to warm up).
And better yet, my arms have held up better than I thought…I am able to type this post this morning and I held my cappuccino steady.
Life is good.