These are examples of a sun salutation.
This one's a little misleading - it goes right to left.
Traditionally, they are done first thing in the morning - hence the name, 'salute to the sun.' It's a great way to warm up your body and in most yoga classes they are done at the beginning, to get your mind and body centered. It's one of the first things you learn how to do in yoga.
In celebration of the summer solstice - the longest day of the year - people in the yoga community do 108 sun salutations. Why 108? Without going all deep on you, numbers are very powerful in Eastern traditions and 108 is a sacred number - here's a better explanation. At any rate, celebrating the summer solstice with 108 sun salutations is great way to share your passion for yoga with others who feel the same and lots of yoga studios in the community regularly hold these celebrations, often tying it to a fundraiser of some sort. I'd always wanted to participate in one but never got up the courage, as I was sure that after five sun salutations I would fall out! However, I got the chance to do it a couple of weeks ago at the One Love event here in Dallas.
A couple instructors in Dallas took a service challenge and put the whole event together, raising $25,000 for AIDS relief in Africa. I was sponsored through my studio, which was the only reason I was able to go. I was super thankful for that and it turned out to be a really great experience.
I didn't know what to expect and I was more than a little nervous as more and more people arrived. I was there by myself and while I knew a lot of the instructors leading us through the poses, I kind of felt like they were the cool kids and I was the dorky one who wasn't really sure if my invitation to the party was sincere. So I nearly fell on the ground with relief when I ran into someone I knew! She was one of my students when I was teaching full-time and I was never happier to see a familiar face in that sea of faces. There were over 200 people who came!
I felt like an ox standing next to Keya. I'm only 5'5" but she's itty-bitty!
She was one of my favorites - I always loved having her in class.
She's in teacher training now, I'm so proud of her!
She led her classmates in some warm-ups and I smiled, remembering
my own time in teacher training.
We set up in the courtyard at the mall and it was so gratifying to be in that space, sharing the day with people engaging in their passion. Yoga is my thing - when I'm practicing all is right with the world. I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way and there's no place I'd rather be.
That's Julie, in the center. She's one of my most favorite people ever.
You can't help but smile and know that everything's okay when you're around her.
More people from my studio began to arrive and I got over myself and went to say hello. A lot of them knew when Drew and I first started dating and they were so happy to hear that we'd gotten married. They all asked about him, but he'd gotten home late the night before so he stayed at the house to mow the lawn and all that stuff. Besides, everyone there had to pledge $108 to participate. We got started just as the sun was warming up - I was so glad to have found a spot under a tree! There were ten instructors, each one leading us through nine sun salutations, with two of them going twice. That's 108 right? I suck at math. Besides, once we got going and the sun started shining on that courtyard with minimal shade, nobody was counting. We were all trying not to pass out.
Thankfully, between each instructor we got a minute to rest and of course they encouraged us to take breaks whenever we needed, saying "This is a celebration. If you no longer feel like you can celebrate, please take a break - we're not competing." And that is why I love yoga.
One of the times I stopped to take a picture because it
wasn't feeling like a celebration. If I were teaching,
I'd walk by that guy with his head cocked and get him to relax his neck.
The instructor leading us is Lisa, another of my most favorite people.
I was so glad each sun salutation was different. I don't care how strong you are, 108 of the exact same sequence is painful. I made it through, but as soon as I got to my car I started feeling dizzy and nauseated and immediately after that I thought my head was going to explode out of my left eye. I assume it was heatstroke? I had no idea what was going on - I just knew that it felt like it took forever to get home. I just kept one hand over my eye, saying over and over 'Please be with me' because I was so scared I wasn't going to make it home. Thank God the drive was short - pain like that is no joke. I crawled in the front door, took some giant ibuprofen and slept. If I ever do that again I will be better prepared, with lots of ice water, lots more breaks and I probably won't do it outdoors in Texas in the middle of the summer! But at least now I can say I've done it!
About a week later, my old boss called and told me that a class was available. I'd been telling her that I wanted to come back to teaching and she said she'd let me know when she had something. Her call couldn't have come at a better time - for one, I desperately need to do something to add structure to my days and two, when you teach you get to take unlimited classes for free!! That alone is reason enough! Yoga is expensive and getting to take class from some of the best instructors in the city is a God-send!
I had to go to a refresher course to show the owner I still knew my stuff and I could have floated off the mat when he told me that I was awesome and it's good to have me back on the schedule! I can't wait to get back into teaching. I can't wait to be back in the studio with that chill yoga music, feeling the floor under my bare feet, sharing that awesome energy with my students, taking class from my favorite people. Just typing that lifts my heart.
It's where I belong.