108 Surya Namaskar Challenge (CDO)

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“Savasana. The corpse pose. Every yoga session ends with this pose. Lying on your back, arms and legs resting neutral and heavy by your sides, useless extensions of your own body. Static. Immovable. Following an intense yoga practice, Savasana is a restful and restorative experience for most. The silence and seeming solitude steers the yogi into a state of near-slumber. The silence is loud. The vibrations of the entire world simply fade away into nothing and you are left alone…” - Jacey Barnes

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It was set at dawn of the last Saturday of the month. It rained the night before. It was still drizzling even while we were driving towards the venue. But as soon as we set foot on the Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Complex grounds, the rain stopped.

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Some One up there must’ve really loved me so much, that when I prayed for the rain to stop, it did just right in time. Or maybe that some One is within? Who knows? All I know is I’ve experienced Him both ways.

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Only a few people came, all fifteen (15) of us, from different places, from all walks of life, all coming together for this challenge. Only a few but all were meant to be there. Jade and Mhick, yoga teachers came all the way from Malaybalay Bukidnon just to take on the challenge. Hannah, Isay and Mel, yoga teachers from Gensan, extended their stay in CDO just to be with us that morning. Maia and Jess were barely morning persons but made that day an exception. Kris, my practice buddy, Sarah and Mags who were first timers but whose persistence amazed me. Cutie Kyle, the other lone male of the bunch, refused to have his photo taken. And to Jules, Janice and Jade who makes up three fourths of the Namaskar Yoga Shala community founders =D

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It was the 6th 108 Surya Namaskar that I’ve participated since last year. I thought I knew the whole process already like the back of my hand, how it works and what to expect. It was all that but it was so much more.

It’s strange that though every movement every counting is the same, but every experience is utterly and surprisingly different. Or maybe it’s all the same and my mind is just beginning to grasp the different facets of the practice in its entirety that I missed the last time around.

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But it wasn’t like I had an epiphany the whole time.

Towards the 30th round of the 108 Surya Namaskar, my mind was already all over the place out of boredom. I was checking out the runners on the track, I was already staring at the sky imagining bunny shapes out of the clouds and cotton candies. I was already checking how much I needed a foot spa and a pedicure.

Halfway through the practice, my mind was already complaining out of “imagined pain”. Towards the 70th round, my mind was already screaming out of “real pain” on my shoulders, my hips and my legs. By the 80th round, my energy was depleted.

And my inner dialogue sort of sounded like this….

27th round: “This is so easy. I’m bored. “

50th round: “Holy crap! This is hard. I don’t think my shoulders could handle any more chaturangas and downward dogs. My arms are shaking. Holy cow! I can’t jump back and forward anymore. My knees are stiff and shaking. F*ck@ $h%t why is the music so loud? F*ck@ $h%t how can those cheerleaders do yoga poses and split while being thrown on the air at the same time… ahhh youth! F*ck@ $h%t.” (referring to the cheer dance competition happening on the stage nearby.)

70th round: “Sorry Papa God for cursing earlier. I think I’m gonna die any minute now, seriously. The headline on the local news paper tomorrow is gonna say “Yoga instructor found dead on her yoga mat at the track and field area in Sports Complex” and my autopsy report is gonna say “CAUSE OF DEATH: CHATURANGA”. Please tell my family I love them.”

80th round: “God Help! I just died!”

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By the 81st round, my second wind has kicked in. Sudden surge of energy coming from the inside and on the outside at the same time, and I almost convulse as if I’m going to blow up. It felt like I was expanding and expanding. Some people call it adrenaline rush, some call it kundalini rising, while some people may call it orgasm. By the 90th round there was just silence. I was floating on the clouds. I know my mat was there on the ground, but it’s like I could not feel it beneath my feet anymore. It felt like I was one with the air around me and I was just flowing through the movements. Incredible happiness filled my mind, body and soul, as if high on weed. Actually, so much better than weed that I think I felt God. And the savasana that followed was the best savasana I’ve experienced in my whole life.

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After our best savasana ever, everyone’s eyes were smiling, like little kids who just won a prize. Overwhelmed, patting each others’ backs for the feat, for surviving the challenge, for pushing our limits and breaking boundaries. Overjoyed but if asked if we’d do it again, all of us would gladly say “NO”. But deep within, if asked again one week later, we know that we can’t wait for the next one.

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During those times when it felt like finishing the 108 Surya Namaskar seemed impossible, that I wanted to quit, I realize that if millions of practitioners have done it before me, then I should be able to do it as well.

My body’s capability continues to amaze me. I always thought that my body is not made for such activities, but I’m surprised at its resilience and strength. It made me realize that if I can do the 108 Surya Namaskar, then I can do anything. It’s empowering.

So if asked why do I continue to do 108 Surya Namaskars? Because for others, they only do it once. For some it’s just like a tick on the bucket list and then forgotten from then on.

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For me, I’m not doing it for fun. If I was looking for fun, I would’ve been on the beach with my yellow polka dot bikini with a book to my left and a Piña Colada on my right hand.

If people climb mountains, run marathons, run ultra-marathons, and the like, to constantly change what has been proven and raise the standard, then the 108 Surya Namaskar Challenge is that kind of version in the yoga world.

I do it so I’d get to know myself more. It’s like shedding the layers of doubts, and fears that’s preventing me from seeing everything just as they are.  I do it, because every time, it opens my eyes to endless possibilities, and makes me see everything around me in a new and raw perspective. It’s like waking up parts of me that’s been blinded by my past circumstances. It’s liberating.

And not only that, by the time you enter the meditative state of the practice, aside from fulfilling your personal intention, you’d have so much more, that you’d want to share your loving energy to your loved ones as well. As for me, the first person that came to mind was my friend who just lost her brother from cardiac arrest at such a young age. I dedicated a huge part of my practice for her. Praying for even just a fraction of her pain to be taken away.

And for those who dedicated their practice for a greater cause such as world peace, to end world hunger and poverty, and for the oil price rollback, with palms together, Namaskar, I bow to you.

Next up: Goal for next year would be a full one. 54 Surya Namaskar A’s and 54 Surya Namaskar B’s.