Starting the new year by flowing through 108 rounds of Sun Salutations has become a bit of a tradition in the yoga community, a mark of the transition from one year to the next, and a way of setting positive intentions for the year ahead, of cleansing and shedding old (negative) habits and patterns and making way for more healthy and loving ones.
Until very recently though I’d never done the practice, in part due to my tendency to fall into the thought pattern that I can’t do something rather than I can. However, at a yoga retreat at the beginning of December I had the opportunity to flow through this practice with a group of beautiful yoginis and it was wonderful – challenging, but wonderful.
That little voice still made me doubt my ability to complete the practice on my own but, feeling determined to start my year in a positive way and to make a commitment to maintaining a healthy, balanced and regular yoga practice for myself this year (something which can be difficult for teachers, myself included), I set an intention to do it. And, I have just done it.
These were some of my realisations / musings from the practice (in no particular order):
I did it my way and there wasn’t a jump back, chaturanga or an upward-facing dog in sight! I’m nursing a flare up of a slipped disc in my lower back and so I only took gentler vinyasa options and that was the right thing for me today. It felt good. You can do it your way too.
My arms started to feel wobbly about half way through. My whole body started to feel a bit wobbly about three-quarters of the way through.
Having a means of counting so you’re not trying to count in your head is very helpful (thanks Alicia for that suggestion). I used my mala beads and a hair grip as a pointer (fancy!), moving the hair grip pointer along to the next bead during each round. Even so, I think I may have forgotten to move the counter a couple of times…
Even with the limitations in my body, I did it. This is a reminder that my body is a hell of a lot more amazing and stronger than I tend to give it credit for. Thank you body.
When I get tired my transition between urdhva hastasana and uttanasana (standing to forward fold) gets very sloppy (hello spaghetti arms).
It’s very easy to tune out and ‘go through the motions’, perhaps, as noted above, falling into sloppy or lazy movement patterns (and perhaps also pondering what you might write in a social media or blog post about your experience!). It’s much harder to stay present and aware of your movements, to make each movement intentional and healthy. When you realise you’ve tuned out, simply tune back in, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Music was a great companion through most of the practice but towards the end I turned it off as I found myself wanting quiet.
There were points where the flow felt amazing, my energy levels were up and I found the balance between effort and ease that we strive for in our yoga practice. Then there were points (particularly as I got more and more hungry) where it was more of a battle and things felt awkward and my body felt tired and sluggish…but, if I kept going, ignoring the devil on my shoulder saying ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’, I always came to another good phase…This sounds a bit like life, right?
There’s definitely a difference between that little lazy devil voice which says ‘I can’t be bothered anymore’ and the sensible ‘you’re-tired-take-a-break-voice’ that should be given more heed.
A little clichéd perhaps, but there’s good reason why it is so often stated that yoga can teach us about ourselves and show us how we react or respond to life’s ups and downs, it’s challenges and achievements.
So that’s my start to 2019. I wonder what this year will hold. No doubt there will be ups and downs but I’m stepping forwards with open arms and full of hope, ready to embrace opportunities as they arise and knowing that I will always find a way out of the darker places that I may also stumble into.
Wishing you all love and light on your journey through 2019.