Sunday, January 4, 2015

I Salute the Sun - #7

I promise I will not blog daily about this particular item, but I wanted to give it some attention. Number 7 on the 40/40 list is to do four sun salutations daily for the entire year.

Four is a small, doable number, but in light of the fact that I do not have a home yoga practice currently, this item feels like something big. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, every day for a year is a lot of days.

For the yoga unfamiliar, a sun salutation is a set of movements that includes the entire body. There is folding forward at the hips to touch the ground, reaching up to the ceiling with arms outstretched, downward dog, and plank that eventually moves into a lowering of the body to the mat. Each change in position is initiated by breath. It's not hard per se, but it's not easy either.

Yesterday I asked my teacher if there would be any sun salutations in her class because I needed to do my four for the day. She smiled and told me to go ahead and do them before class. So there I stood on my mat wearing the too-big black birthday tutu loose at my hips and started my routine. I'll admit I was slightly self-conscious. The room was packed and I didn't know most of the people seated on their mats.

My hips and hamstrings are in a permanent state of tightness, so downward dog feels funky at first as do the forward bends. In my stage fright, I had trouble remembering how many suns I had done, and at the end of the routine I realized that I'd forgotten one part the entire time. It's in these moments that make me love yoga so much. Yoga teaches us that it is a practice. No matter at what level a yogi is practicing, she will always have room for improvement. Perfection is not a goal in yoga-thank goodness. So after this brief inner dialogue reminding myself of this crucial truth, I sat down on my mat, rearranged my tutu, and sat peacefully for class to start.

Today I feel the effects of yesterday's practice. My shoulders and the muscles in the middle of my back are achy. They make their presence known as I move through the day. It's a kind of pain I relish because it reminds me I am doing something good, nourishing, and healthy for my body. I plan to do today's four again at class. Tomorrow I'll begin doing them when I wake up before I start getting ready for work.

I am hopeful for a few things to transpire in my year of sun salutations: I'd like for my heels to move closer to the floor during downward dog; I aspire to being able to do chataranga (lowering to the floor in plank) with legs straight most of the time; and I'd be thrilled for my legs to stay straight when I do forward bends (this is also part of #4 Improve forward bend.)

These are really doable goals, and what excites me is all the other things that will fall in place in my yoga practice that I cannot even imagine today. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will feel ready to take on the challenge of yoga teacher training. For now, I'm going to keep breathing, moving, and loving being 40.

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