Let’s just say I had no idea what I was up for walking into this mornings Surya Namaskara marathon. To begin, let’s break this down a little. There are 12 steps for each side (left and right), meaning there are 24 steps to complete one round. 60 rounds of Surya Namaskara translates to 120 when you add the left and right sides together. 120 ‘sides’ works out to be 1440 movements! This is 90 minutes of non-stop movement.
I went through so many different phases, mentally and physically, during this session. I began extremely optimistic and committed to finishing this marathon. Although a little stiff at first, as I usually am, within a few rounds my body began to feel stronger and more flexible than ever. At this point I’m thinking, “this isn’t too bad!” As the sweat began to bead on my forehead, I started getting agitated by it - feeling it trickle through my hair and down the sides of my face. I was trying to wipe it away, but with sweaty palms this soon became useless. By this point, not even half way, I noticed I would enter into meditative states where I was just completely focused on Ragu’s voice, my breath and the movement of my body. In a normal session of Surya Namaskara, I often find myself forgetting which leg goes back - getting lost and confused as to where I’m up to - but in this session, my body naturally knew where I was up to and moved into the asanas with minimal thought at all. Certainly an interesting state to enter into, and one I haven’t been in before.
The next challenge then came when I started slipping in and out of the asanas. I was now sweating so much that puddles were forming below my feet, hands and forehead. Trying to move so quickly through the asanas without slipping off the mat was an enormous challenge. The concentration became so much deeper at this point - it had to. I was absolutely soaked. I often joke about how I walked out of a class as though I jumped into a swimming pool. I was clearly mistaken re what this actually looks like. I was so drenched, I didn’t even notice the sweat which was pouring down my face anymore, dripping into my eyes, nose and mouth. At one point I couldn’t tell if I was tasting sweat which had dripped into my mouth or whether I was sweating in my mouth also. I’m not kidding - I actually had this thought cross my mind. I also didn’t know it was possible to sweat from the soles of your feet either. Turns out you can! By the end of it, my fingertips had turned prune like, as though I had been sitting in a bath for too long. Ridiculous.
The room became like a sauna. With all windows and doors tightly closed, there was no air flow at all. No air was getting in or out, which is all part of the process. The windows became so steamed up you couldn’t see outside at all.
As the time passed, which felt like an eternity, I noticed other students in class were dropping like flies. Moving to the back of the room to sit the rest of the class out, or lying in Savasana (corpse). With no time to even towel yourself down if you wanted, let alone have a drink, you can see why people just needed to stop. The heat and moisture in the room alone was enough to make you pass out from asphyxiation, let alone the physical exertion also. I, however, was determined to complete this marathon without missing any rounds. I wanted to achieve this as I knew it would be a wonderful achievement in the end. I kept hoping Ragu would suddenly tell us to now lay in Savasana, but that cue seemed as though it was never going to come. I was convinced it would never end. But then my rational mind would kick in and remind me that it would (come to an end) and to just hang in there. I knew I could do it, but come the last 20 minutes or so, I was starting to fade. I began having dreams of water. Knowing it was right next to my mat b ut untouchable for the moment was sheer torture. Finally the words “last 12 rounds” came and I knew I needed to push on. I’m far too determined and stubborn not to! By this point my clothes were drenched, I had sweat dripping off my necklace, my breaths were losing coordination and I was doing my best to maintain correct technique throughout each of the steps. Surprisingly, I did well with my technique as the rhythm forces you to move in such a smooth way, that your body naturally aligns itself. It’s quite fascinating to notice as I have never seen this happen so clearly before - in my own body of course.
Eventually, Ragu brought us back to Namaskarsana (step 1) and we all automatically went to raise our hands up into step 2, Urdhvahastasana, but he didn’t count with our movement. We were done. Among a sheer moment of joy there was also a fear of throwing up which suddenly arose. Standing in Stitali Tadasana (a relaxed standing pose) I was worried I was about to be sick. Clearly this was a pretty intense practice! But I was fine.
We lay in Savasana for 10 minutes or so. The most glorious Savasana I have ever had! Lying in a pool of sweat, which I couldn’t have cared less about by this stage, I noticed my heart rapidly beating but not in a way where it seemed overly stressed. The beats were controlled and they too slowly lowered as I cooled down.
After class, it was funny to see how destroyed everyone was. All of us looked completely wrecked. But not in a bad way - we were tired from our training but there is still a really powerful energy you achieve after something as intense as this. I can’t quite describe it. All I know, is its a wonderful, calming yet almost euphoric energy which we all seemed to share.
Walking home through the ‘quieter’ streets of Gokulam in the early morning, I was so appreciative of the practice I had just done. I was admiring the beautiful purple flowers in the Jacaranda trees which are scattered through the streets, and gazed aimlessly at the mist which sits like blanket over the entire area each morning. The hint of orange and pink from the rising sun make this place quite magical in the early mornings. Gokulam is glowing at this time. It was a lovely way to finish the class.
As I am officially on holidays (even though I am about to return to the Shala to pay for the Mysore Style classes I will be taking next week) I intend to laze about today. I think an extra large strawberry, banana and coconut smoothie is in order!
So after all that, if anyone has an opportunity to challenge themselves to do a Surya Namaskara marathon, I highly recommended it. It will be an experience to remember! Not many places in the world do this, but if you can find somewhere that does, definately get on board. I will also practice this one Saturday each month for my own self-practice. I it’s a great way to rejuvenate.
Enjoy your day.
My clothes needed wringing out when I got home! Gross, I know…
I didn’t bring Hydralyte for training purposes, but it turns out that’s what I’ve needed them for. (Much better alternative to the original plan for these).