Our salute to the Summer Solstice: 108 what?

Here’s our first foray into Ashtanga meme-making. We’ve both done our malas.

clip_image001111111Posted by Steve

54 is half of 108. Fine, I’m a yoga slacker

My bravado got me half way there.

But I swear, it wasn’t my fault. Life — well, work, really — conspired against my finishing 108 sun salutes today.

I did get in 54, though. Which I needed, since life, again, has been conspiring to keep my away from the mat since Monday.

Guruji's Yoga Mala, via http://www.ashtangayogainfo.com

(Work went 30 to 45 minutes later than I expected, through no fault of my own. I was having to wait on others to finish things up; it was that type of waiting that frustrating me beyond belief as an editor in my dark days as a journalist.)

After I was finished, I realized when the last time I’d done the Yoga Mala — 108 sun salutes — was.

Right after Guruji passed away.

Diana Christinson, of Pacific Ashtanga, held a memorial for Guruji that consisted of the Yoga Mala. Only with a twist. Between each sun salute, each person is succession dedicated the Suryanamaskara.

It was very moving. As was the memorial gathering at Tim Miller’s.

And keep in mind, this was all before the whole Ashtanga thing had really sunk in with me.

Today, despite only having time for 54 “rounds,” I am happy to say that those 54 drained me less than they would have two-plus years ago. So, to that end, the Ashtanga is working.

But, on reflection, I noticed a few other things that I am taking away as “good signs” of progress. (I recognize the irony or wrongness of seeking progress in this.)

  • My focus, my dristi, was … focused. I realize I didn’t have as many points to look at, which I think can be distracting, but on I found myself very much “looking up” in up-dog, looking softly past your nose, etc.
  • My breaths are longer and more controlled. Maybe not Guruji’s 10-second long ones, but… coming.
  • More flexibility. I still have a long way to go, but my hamstrings and quads both were looser and more supple.

So, despite not having the time to get to 108, the practice was fruitful today. The trick, of course, will be carrying those reflections onto the mat on Sunday.

Posted by Steve

Autumnal Equinox: How do 108 sun salutes sound?

Today, Friday, Sept. 28, is the Autumnal Equinox. (You’ll recall Tim Miller wrote about it earlier this week.)

Shayna Liebbe, via her Facebook page

My first Ashtanga teacher (I think it is fair to classify her as such) was Shayna Liebbe. Very sadly, she passed away a couple of years ago. She was a student of Tim, and thus the line from Guruji to Tim to me really includes an important stop at Shayna.

She always celebrated the solar passings with a class of 108 sun salutes. My first-ever class with her, in fact, was one of these hamstring and arm busters.

The way she ran this class was that the first five Suryanamaskara A’s were done as you always start practice, with five breaths in down dog. After that, just one breath as you moved along pretty rapidly.

It definitely is one way really to get up the heart rate, if that’s a concern.

She’d divide the practice into four sets of 27 (I’ll do the math for you, that equals 108). Yoga mala, indeed.

This, of course, isn’t traditional, but Shayna — God bless her — wasn’t traditional. She did have a beautiful practice and was a marvelous teacher, who led classes with wit, insight and a profoundly held love of the practice.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull such a practice off today; I’m going to try. And if I do, I know to whom I can dedicate the practice.

If you’ve already practiced today… you always could sneak this in tomorrow. I won’t tell.

Posted by Steve