Follow the Sun (again)

For the last week (at least), I have been super excited, waiting for today to arrive. Not only is it Sunday (one of my fave days to teach yoga), it is also the Winter Solstice, which means in yoga world, time to celebrate the arrival of the new season with 108 Sun Salutations. Remember back (when Facebook was still letting people see blog links that I post!) to when I wrote about this in June? Participating in my first 108 with a studio full of yogis was so, so cool. It proved to be a physical challenge but one that was also super rewarding because it made me feel connected not only to my own body but the larger yoga community that exists both in my own town and around the world, too.

The beauty of this individual accomplishment that aligns so perfectly with group energy turned out to be very much the case again for the Winter Solstice, but in an entirely different way. Because this solstice happened to fall on a Sunday, the yoginis of avani decided, naturally, to hold the Winter 108 in place of my normal Sunday Flow, and it was given to me to lead. I was pumped and also a little bit like whoa because I know what a marathon this event can be and that there would be no way I could lead/complete at the same time. Cue and count and do all at the same time? Not for me, my friends! So instead, I figured out a way to count/keep track of my salutations on my own yesterday and after tossing and turning most of the night (is it time? is it time?!), I got up at 5:00 this morning and headed downstairs to complete my own yoga marathon well ahead of leading the one at the studio at 9:00. Here is what my mat looked like when I started:

The dark stones I used by moving one to the other side of the mat each time I completed a sun salute (if you don’t know what one entails, read the link above from the Summer 108 – it details all the steps that equal one salutation). When all 10 shifted, I moved a clear stone to the right and then started moving the dark ones back again. I believe my Math Man husband called this a Base 10 system when I showed it to him? You know words are my thing, so that I devised a system that is actually a legitimate math Thing is fun, eh? The eight red stones lined up on the left were for the last eight rounds. At the studio we lead everyone through the first 100 as a group and then give them time to complete the last ones on their own, so I wanted to mark my final eight in a special way, too. And you know what? It totally worked!
It was dark when I started and when I ended (and OMG, apparently we needed to do many more SSs today because it is another gray day in a what has been about 1 hour of sunshine in the last 10 days!), but I had some soft light coming from the Christmas lights on our mantle to keep me going, as well as my beloved music, and my first 108 solo felt amazing. Last summer I could barely do five full salutations with full chaturangas (as opposed to on my knees), but today I did the first 54. How cool is that?! And even once I switched to my knees, I still caught myself sometimes in the middle of a full one before realizing my error, but c’mon – if you’re going to make mistakes, this seems like a good route to go. Because it was early and I had the main floor of the house to myself, I took my time and completed in about an hour – just before the first Little came downstairs to find me, which was perfect. 
After the rest of the house awoke, I was able to get cleaned up (because 108 brings not only the sun but also the heat!) and ready to head to the studio. Because my parents were here for early Christmas, Ben also got to come to the event which was so awesome because he’s never been able to make it to one of my classes before and this was a pretty special one for him to hit. As for how it all went? Well, a few lessons learned. 
      1) Don’t drink coffee prior to leading 108. I know enough to not do this before taking a yoga class now (learned the hard way), but oof. When you are super excited for an event, drinking coffee right before it starts is going to amp you up a wee bit too much. I’m a fast talker anyway, so trying to cue through the caffeine and my own energy level? It was a bit challenging at first! 
     2) Cueing 108 sun salutes is going to make you tongue tied. I chose to give breath and posture cues the whole way through and while I did well for probably 93% of them, the ones I did flub were rather comical (but perhaps, unfortunately, a little distracting for the yogis who joined me this morning). I don’t care what you’re trying to say – say it that many times in a row and you are going to make mistakes. As a result, each time an error occurred or when I felt my own monkey mind starting to wonder, I hoped right into the flow with my group, completing a dozen or more extra rounds throughout the studio event. While I thought this would be impossible because I’d be so shot from doing my own, it turned out that the extra ones actually felt great and grounding (which was good, because hi – see Lesson #1!). Again – the power of my practice and strength are such great gifts and when I look at how far I’ve come in a little over a year, I am floored. 
     3) Seeing your husband and friends and fellow teachers and students and local yogis complete 108, especially the last individual rounds, is a potential breeding ground for emotion. I was so honored to be there, much less leading the darn thing, so being witness to the energy, strength, determination, and beauty of all the people who joined me this morning? It got to me a little bit. The opportunity I’ve been given to teach and lead in a practice that means so much to me? Full as it may make the schedule some weeks, I don’t take it for granted ever because I’m too honored and too humbled to be anything but grateful for the role I’ve been given. 
After everyone finished and enjoyed their savasana, we celebrated and laughed and chatted for a while before everyone went on their way for the rest of their first day of Winter. When I made it back to the house, I hopped on the mat for one more round so Ben could snap some pics. Full disclosure? My arms were so tired, I about dropped on my face in chaturanga, but then I inhaled up into Upward Facing Dog and again felt my heart lift and fill with the joy of this day and this opportunity and this life. Whatever is to come in this new season, I am ready to greet it with warmth in my heart and a smile on my face. Best wishes that you may do the same! 
Added bonus of the day? OMmazing leg warmers hand-knit by the
daughter of one my favorite faces from the studio. I requested these all of two
days ago and not only were they already done and so, so fantastic, they
totally matched my outfit! The auspiciousness of 108 strikes again! 

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