108 Sun Salutations at five in the morning.
I’m almost two weeks into yoga teacher training.
We are in beautiful Costa Rica, being lulled into a false sense of security. Until the day when Troy, our fearless leader, gets a harebrained idea that we should all get up before the buttcrack of dawn and do yoga. Not just that, but 108, count ’em! 108 Sun Salutations, a flow of postures that requires a whole lot of ups and downs and backwards and forwards, which is unnatural to do before coffee.
I know, it seems unbelievable; what kind of a person would ask that of a poor innocent group of unsuspecting, trusting yoga students? But trust me, it’s true.
108 is apparently a sacred number. Supposedly the Buddha asked 108 questions before he reached enlightenment (but I bet he had the sense to do it after breakfast). So maybe, after 108 Sun Salutations, we will all achieve enlightenment. At the very least there had better be a prize!
Before we get started, I figure out that 108 in our two allotted hours is 27 Sun Salutations per half hour. That’s just under a minute for each one.
It sounds doable.
I begin, body stiff. Ouch.
I am not hopping or jumping, I’m taking it easy to start. I slowly get a rhythm going. Several people have brought music players to listen to. Damn, why didn’t I think of that? What if I sing? Would Troy make me leave if I start singing? Would that necessarily be a bad thing?
When I reach 27, I look at my watch. 5:22. Not bad. I’m on schedule, if there could possibly be a schedule at this ungodly hour.
The sun is rising. Eh. Hi, sun. What does it want, a stinking medal? Toucans are playing in the tree, their yellow bills like bright bananas. Bananas, breakfast, coffee….. my stomach growls. I’m sure Troy is not inherently evil, everyone has their flaws.
I am sweating, hair drips into my eyes. Almost to 54—the half-way point. Amber is wearing her shades and Ipod. She looks like she’s having a day at the beach.
I grunt through a few more Sun Salutations.
Up dog. Damn dog. Step through.
Hmmm, when I step through, I don’t quite make it up to the front of my mat. If I don’t adjust my feet every time, I could squeeze back between Ashton and Sarah and back out of the patio and be in my room and back in bed before anyone noticed. Would that be cheating?
Crap, I lost count. Was that 58 or 59? Did I swing my left foot back last time? Does it matter? I think I have about a zillion more times to even it up. I actually don’t give a rat’s ass which foot I swing.
I’m at 75. It’s only 6:03. Wow, I’m cruising. How long does one of these really take if I power through? Let’s see: reach up, palms through heart, fold, step into plank, lower, up dog, damn dog, step through….. wow!
Seven seconds, really? That’s about nine per minute. I could have been done in 12 minutes!
Why am I not done?
Let me concentrate on form. Feel the alignment. Let’s try that rolling through the toes that Anjana does; she makes it look so easy. Ouch. Shit. That hurts! Why are her beautiful toes not broken and mangled? Okay, lift gracefully, fold gracefully. I’m a strong gorgeous ballerina. A sweaty, smelly, cranky ballerina.
Power through some more. I’m kicking butt! The butt you kick may be your own, right? 90! Yay! Only 12 more! I can do 12.. no, wait. I’ve never been great at math. Not 12, 18 more. 18? I can’t do it! Why did I think 12, was I thinking 102? 102 is a fever, am I feverish? Isn’t a 108 degree fever, like, dead? No, I can do this! I’m at 100! It’s 6:16.
There are a few people laying on their mats by now. Am I slow? Or maybe they gave up and I’m just way tougher. No, Bhojak and Monica would not have given up. Maybe I’m more mindful. Hmmmm. Or maybe I’m just older, fatter, and slower? No, I’m gonna go with mindfuller.
Okay, last eight. Let these last ones be especially mindful. So mindful! Every muscle, every fiber, every cell awake and listening. 103! F*ck it, I’m doing the seven second version. 108! I lift my arms in victory! I want to woo-hoo! How come nobody else woo-hooed? If I do it, will I always be remembered as the crazy lady who woo-hooed?
Okay, never mind. I’ll just collapse on my mat.
A brilliant blue Moro butterfly flits overhead. I relax.
108 God damned Sun Salutations.
That was kind of cool. But not cool enough that I want to do it again tomorrow.
Alexa Maxwell is a writer, teacher, traveler and student of yoga. She is a huge fan of elephant journal and is honored to be part of the herd. Watch for more ele posts as she attempts to maintain a steady yoga practice while solo traveling through South America! (YIKES!) You can read more at her blog here (www.catnipkiss.wordpress.com) , follow her on Twitter @catnipkiss, or wait for her upcoming travel memoir which is a work in progress.
Editors: Elysha Anderson/Kate Bartolotta