In this blog piece I explore the first part of my journey into doing 54 sun salutations every day for 21 day.
Just over one week ago I began a journey into the realms of dedication regarding my yoga practice. I signed up to a 21 day yoga challenge with my Yog Dham in India via zoom. In this challenge we do 54 sun salutations each day and on the last day we aim to do 108. The first day I was apprehensive as the most sun salutations I've ever done was twenty-five and that was during my 200 hr yoga training and then again during my 300 hr yoga training. The most sun salutes I have ever taken one of my classes through, is six. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in terms of my mental, spiritual and emotional self, let alone my physical self.
That first day I was unsure I was going to complete the 54 rounds but somehow I found the endurance, inspired by Ira, a mentor and friend who organized the challenge. By day two my muscles in my arms and legs and my joints were screaming at me and I had to rub a lot of wintergreen and menthol into my body and take large doses of Tumeric to keep the inflammation down. Yet I completed those 54 sun salutations again that day. Eventually by day four the pain subsided in my body, however, what became more prevalent, was the emotional dross that began to surface. I have journeyed through depression this week, elation, ego, a sense of lack, intense anxiety, and a little dash of grumpy also reared its head.
The almost crippling anxiety was the worst. Rather than let it claim me, I chose instead to remian aware of its presence without judgement or frustration. It felt awful but I remained curious through the process, observing instead of investing myself in what was 'coming up' and trusting it was releasing from my body. This has been an amazing gift of grace to myself. As each layer peels away I am greeted with new revelations and the dissolution of old programs that hold me back. I have learnt to be gentler with myself this last eight days, and to be mindful about nourishing and being kind to myself. I have also found myself being strict with my boundaries, as I have found this challenge the single most important part of my day. As I show up for myself and for those who come to the mat in our little challenge group, I am learning new aspects to grace and skills that allow me to prioritize my spiritual path.
Don't be daunted by what I am saying, I'm not walking around crippled in pain and moaning and groaning. On the contrary, the Sun Salutations have given me the space to explore much of this internally, (I only loudly groaned on day two and three), my only outward manifestation of this challenge is that I am a little more quiet during the day, and definitely a bit more tired! And I won't lie, on at least two days I ate my body weight in chocolate. As I do say though - it is all yoga.
I knew sun salutations, as with most intense asana practice, would bring stuff up out of the body, but the sweeping depth of this has truly surprised me. So how do I deal with it? I flow, I show up, I am embodied. I don't allow my monkey mind to get in the way, and most importantly I do it for me, because long after the muscles stop screaming, and the hamstrings loosen, long after my anxiety passes, and the niggling feelings of not being good enough pass, what I will be left with will be true alchemist's gold. I will be left with the certainty that 'I did it'. I will be left with the knowledge that I did something truly great for me, and this gold in my hands in terms of my self-esteem. Not my confidence (I have buckets of that!), but my self-esteem. Because I took a chance and believed in me. Because I took a chance and followed the cycles of the sun through 54 Surya Namaskar, and like the sun as it rises and sets on one side of the world and then the other, I have allowed myself to rise and fall and rise again,day after day, just like the glorious solar disc that powers our world.
May the sun always shine upon you.