Am so excited that it is officially Spring! It has been a very different winter for me this past season. First of all, I traveled twice to warmer climes, which was really nice, but also odd to move from such extreme temperatures. Secondly. I also sprained by ankle and have been unable to do my usual dance routines and classes. I felt rather distraught and annoyed about this, especially having to stop salsa classes, but something deeper was happening. It was as if I were mirroring internally the season of winter. I felt the need to hibernate, yet needed to do something to stay fit and heal my ankle.
I remembered I had read an article about how models stay fit. One model said she did 12 Sun Salutations every day no matter where she was in the world. I thought this was super cool and after that I bought a travel yoga mat, which always goes with me in my suitcase. It is very lightweight. Meanwhile, I only ever made it once to 12 Sun Salutations, which was when I taught my class called Zen-2-Zumba, but I never sustained 12 on a daily basis.
The other day whilst online, I fleetingly saw something about 108 Sun Salutations. I didn't have time to investigate, but the number stuck in my head. I decided that it was a clue to get back into my daily yoga practice and thought I would work my way up to 108 without really knowing why. I even booked them into my agenda, adding one every two weeks. According to my plan I will be able to do 24 daily by Christmas. Sometimes I add one per week. You can go a lot faster, but I have been injured so, not operating at optimum norms.
|Last summer at Stinson Beach|
Curiously, shortly after this, I met an Indian woman whom I asked why 108 Sun Salutations? She briefly explained to me about the 108 Avatars, the 108 prayer beads and the 108 transformations that we go through in order to reach enlightenment. This made sense to me. I thought, "I wanna be enlightened!" So, I decided I had to get started right away and have became deeply committed to my new goal. (For an impressive spectrum of the significance of the number 108 please see this post by Cora Wen.)
Yoga has cured me of many ailments, the most radical being after I was hit by a car while I was crossing the street on foot, resulting in a right shoulder injury. Recovery took 2+ years. I did Hatha Yoga every day, gradually working my way up to Power Yoga, until I could do both classes back to back followed by swimming and sauna. I swear the plank healed my shoulder more than anything else. Previous to the accident I had also indulged in Bikram Yoga for about 6 months, but found its militant energy a complete turn off. Since then, I have gotten back into dance, studying Pilates & Zumba and I taught a class called Zen-2-Zumba for over 2 years. Now, I am studying Salsa and Barre Method, a form of ballet fitness, but I still love yoga and its ability to ground, lengthen, stretch, center and HEAL the body like nothing else. Yoga helps you come into alignment with yourself on many levels. It also helped me become attuned with my singing voice, which has been an amazing experience.
|Face East in the morning and West in the evening.|
There are great printable charts for Sun Salutations on the web. There are many variations, so find what works best for you. I use the sequence above, but add a plank, which I hold for 8-16 counts.
If you want to take the challenge with me and work your way up to 12 per day, or even go all the way to 108, please make sure to photograph yourself before you start. If you like, measure your chest, waist and hips because this is where you will first notice a difference, in the toning. Don't get hung up on weighing yourself on the scale. It will go the wrong way in the beginning as you build muscle and be discouraging, but with dedication, you will see that it will work in your favor and eventually, especially with cardio, you will trim up. Give yourself the time to build up your strength, especially if you are recovering from an injury, and to learn how to stretch. Suddenly your body will feel like one solid mass and you will feel stronger from the core outward. They say the plank is the best way to get flat abs, so I am going to see if I can achieve this by summer;) If I do I will post a pic. (Omigod! I will be enlightened AND have flat abs. I'm gonna go out in style:)
I have worked my way up to 7 Sun Salutations per day so far, and am starting with 8 next Monday. 12 Sun Salutations per day is a great workout on its own or as a daily morning practice (my fave). You can also do them as a warm up exercise before more intense yoga or other fitness routines. This is how I structured my Zen-2-Zumba class.
Good luck! (or should I say Namaste?)