I started practicing yoga in my teens, and over the years, I have done my fair share of sun salutations. In my personal practice, I sometimes use a few to warm my body, but I don’t really enjoy them.
So when I heard we were doing 108 sun salutations at the end of my first full day of Yoga Teacher Training, I rolled my eyes. Not only did we have to do 108, but we had to count them ourselves. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘108 repetitions of repetitive movement.’ This was literally the opposite of the meditative, dynamic practice that I love.
Of course, I lost track within the first 15. And that irritated me to no end. What did it even matter to keep count at that point? I would never know how many I had done!
Then, somewhere around 30 (or maybe it was 35, who knows?), I couldn’t believe how many I still had to do. It seemed like this would take forever. And, oh man, it was so tedious!
By the time I got to 42, I wanted to go home. I wanted to stop the incessant ups and downs, roll up my mat, and leave. I felt far from my comfortable home where I could do whatever practice felt right.
Around 50, only half-way, I decided the whole training was a waste of time and I should just quit! Teacher training was a stupid mistake.
Then — somewhere close to 70 — I realized I was nearly finished. It was hard and annoying, but it was almost over. A rush of gratitude and appreciation washed through me.
Hitting 80 brought a feeling of accomplishment, which grew with every round I completed thereafter.
At 90, I chose to savor the remaining salutations. I was so close, and I wanted to enjoy those last rounds.
Number 100 arrived and I knew the struggle was worth it. I had done so much.
I finally reached 108, and thought maybe I should do a couple more just in case I had undercounted. They weren’t so bad; it wasn’t so hard.
Resting in child’s pose after completion, I asked myself why I fought against the practice. My resistance made me suffer far more than the actual sun salutations.
My life flashed before me and I saw all my daily annoyances, the times I was impatient, the times I wanted to quit or fast-forward. I thought of when I wished my life away — stuck in traffic, pining for summer, waiting at the DMV, sick in bed. I saw my struggles and I saw the end of my life. Would I still wish my time away at the end or would I wish I could have savored even the most frustrating moments? What would my life look like if I appreciated all the moments instead of resisting them?
We finished class and I got in my car, feeling a new space in my being, like my mind had opened and my heart softened.
A text from my cousin Derek came through: “Can you drive me home tomorrow? I have to leave my car in town at the shop.”
“Of course,” I wrote back without hesitation. “If you can be in town at 6 when I finish training that would be perfect.”
“For sure,” he replied.
That night I could barely sleep even though I was exhausted. The 108 salutes energized me. I tossed and turned feeling the uncomfortable combination of wired and tired.
My alarm sounded early the next morning. I rolled out of bed and into the shower. My eyes were puffy, and I knew coffee wouldn’t be enough. At least we would start teacher training that morning with an asana class — that would wake me up.
Nine hours of training later, it was dark out, and I was ready to go home and relax with a glass of wine. I drove to my cousin’s mechanic, and got a message from him on the way: “Running late there in 10.”
I parked out front. 10 minutes, not so bad, but 10 minutes passed quickly, and soon came 15. I was bored and annoyed. Where was he? I was helping him. He should be on time.
After 20 minutes, I was pissed! Obviously, he didn’t have any respect for my time or energy! How could he be so rude as to keep me waiting when I was doing him a favor?
I sat there fuming. I mentally prepared to let him have it as soon as he got there. I figured out all the things I would say to make him feel guilty and bad about himself for making me wait. He was selfish and I would make sure he knew it!
That is — until I remembered the 108 sun salutations from the night before. This was my lesson. Getting angry and resisting my present moment was ruining my present moment. Waiting wasn’t the problem, it was my mindset.
I thought about the miracle that Derek and I both have these physical forms on earth, wouldn’t it be better to appreciate the time we get to spend together? A guilt-trip tirade would make us both miserable. He was late — no big deal. Nobody was hurting, except for me with my self-inflicted suffering. Being angry wouldn’t make him arrive sooner.
I decided to relax and clear my mind.
Not long thereafter, headlights shone around the corner and Derek pulled up. We rolled down our windows.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, sheepishly.
“I appreciate your apology and I’m glad you’re here now,” I said, without a note of hostility. “You want to park in this spot?”
“Yeah, that would be great.”
We moved like Tetris pieces.
“Thanks, cuz,” he said, getting into my car.
“Can I take you to dinner?”
“Sure. I’d love that.”
During our meal, we laughed at stupid jokes and spoke of our futures. I even told him about my newfound love for sun salutations.