Monday I headed to Adrienne’s yoga studio for 108 sun salutations in celebration of spring. Spring Yoga Mala: 108 sun salutations ~ 10:00 - 11:30 am. “Well, that sounds like an excellent way to usher in the equinox,” I said to myself, so I grabbed my mat, water bottle, and towel and took off. Now, the most sun salutations I have done is 21, so I knew this was going to be a challenge, but, hey, this was Monday, the first full day of spring. It was time for an adventure.
108 is a sacred number in many religions. The 108 beaded mala is closely related to the Catholic rosary. A mala is usually used in combination with a mantra that is repeated 108 times, just as the rosary is used to count the component prayers. These beads are used by the faithful in prayer and meditation. Just the act of repetition often calms the frantic mind and reassures one of a higher power.
Six of us of varying ages showed up for class. Adrienne had four silver bowls with 27 beans in each. After the completion of a sun salutation she was going to place a bean in another larger bowl. She'd cue the poses, but we could go at our own pace. If we felt like a child’s pose or a down dog, go with it. Just breathe and set an intention.
And so we began.
The first 27 went well. I stayed with the group. I reached to the sky. I modified my chaturangas. We took a short break after the first set. “I can do this,” I murmured.
The second 27 were more of a struggle. My wrists started to burn. I slowed down and thought about each step. The sweat was now sprinkling my mat. Wow, we weren’t even half done. I gulped down more water.
Another break and we were off to complete the third round of 27. This time the rope lights in the dark room began to resemble snakes. I saw psychedelic sparks of purple and yellow. I kept up, but the backs of my legs were screaming and perspiration clouded my eyes. What if I fainted?
The last 27. I began this final set attempting to count down but quickly lost track. Instead I let myself rest in child’s pose in place of a few chaturangas. My clothes were soaked. My hair was a mess. I felt as though I was completing a marathon without all the running.
The final sun salutation. We stretched and then collapsed into savasana. I could physically feel the energy and power in the room.
As I cooled down, I contemplated the past two hours of 108 sun salutations. No warrior series, no tree, no camel. Just the repetition of mountain, swan dive into forward fold, push up, up dog, down dog, and back to mountain. It was prayer and mediation in motion. My mind was clear, my body had been tested.
Love, peace, and new adventures.