Last month, I did 108 Sun Salutations, and for the next 48 hours, I couldn’t shut up about it. I kept mentioning it off-hand, hoping people would be impressed. It was a big deal to me because I’d been afraid I couldn’t do it. I’d simply never done all 108 together before, so I wondered if I would be strong enough. Luckily for me, it was a cool spring day, overcast and breezy, which made the challenge a little easier.
The whole practice was divided into four sections of 27 lead by alternating teachers with a short break for water after each set. The second set was my turn to lead the group. Oh yeah, did I mention I volunteered to help lead this thing I’d never actually done before? As one of the volunteer yoga teachers for a local nonprifit, I was asked to help with this fundraiser by leading the participants through 27 rounds, which meant I needed to do the practice and direct everyone else through it at the same time. This might not be the wisest decision I’ve ever made. My biggest fear was that I would not only fail to do all 108 rounds but I wouldn’t even make it through the 27 I was supposed to lead.
The first part of the practice went great. The teacher who started us off picked a nice pace and a simple, easy-to-follow version of the sequence. When my turn came, I was predictably nervous, but I decided to just go slow, follow my breath, and count on the practice itself to pull me through. Once I got started, there was no room in my head for counting how many rounds we’d done, much less for worrying. I was simply too busy doing the work, and before I knew it, my turn was almost up. When Kiersten announced that we had only five rounds left in my set, I surprised even myself by cheering a little too loudly. “I didn’t think I could do this!” I blurted out, in what might have been the most awkward admission by a yoga teacher ever.
In the end, doing 108 sun salutations was a challenge, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Rather, it was something I’d told myself I couldn’t do for a long time, and I got to prove myself wrong. I’m not a highly competitive person when it comes to my fitness. I don’t do power yoga or hot yoga, I don’t lift weights, and I don’t run without a damn good reason, but over years of slow, gentle, patient practice, I’ve become stronger than I thought I was. I’m glad I challenged myself to find out.