Good morning, sunshine!
Somewhere in Asia, people casually scanning their friends' California vacation photos will find an image of me squatting on the state capitol lawn. My brow is sweating, my hands are over my heart and my Lycra-covered thighs are open to the world. Seconds after I settled into the ungainly yoga squat known as Goddess Pose, a tour group lined up in front of the capitol steps and began snapping shots on their iPads.
The tourists clearly had no idea the Yoga Moves Us 108 Sun Salutation Challenge was happening last Saturday morning, but the discovery delighted them. Some broke into applause. One cheery woman in a red hat waved to the 100-plus yoga enthusiasts and called, “Hello! How are you?”
Having just finished 108 rounds of Sun Salutation A—a series of yoga poses that involves repeatedly standing tall, folding over, getting down to the ground via a pushup, arching through both Upward and Downward Dog poses, and then standing again—I was both euphoric and exhausted.
Euphoric because I, a novice bedroom yogi, completed all 108 series. Exhausted because the process took nearly two hours of constant movement and involved approximately 108 more pushups than I prefer to execute in a day.
The event was a fundraiser for Yoga Moves Us (http://yogamovesus.org), the nonprofit responsible for free weekly yoga classes at McKinley, Tahoe and Maidu parks. Fifteen yoga instructors took turns leading the crowd. Some gave detailed instructions, while others offered single-word cues: “Breathe … bend … look … fly … connect.”
The morning passed in a repetitive blur: Stretch my arms overhead and peer into the windows of the capitol. (Nice chandelier! Who works in that office?) Bend over and stare at the lawn behind me. (Is that dude with the iPhone Instagramming our butts?) Plank pose. (Yup, there's my mat.) Upward Dog. (Look at the redwood trees!) Stand up. (Wonder where the girl in front of me got those tie-dyed leggings?)
Windows. Dudes with phones. Yoga mat. Redwoods. Leggings. Repeat for two hours.
Halfway through, I developed an intense craving for pizza. Then just pizza crust. Then any kind of bread at all.
Maybe 80 salutations in, I began to wonder whether our combined yogic intensity could create peace for our state's policy-makers. I tried beaming heart-chakra energy throughout the capitol. Then I worried dehydration was making me loopy.
Yogis around me were dropping into restful child's poses. Volunteers offered water and massaged their shoulders.
I considered stopping, and thus getting a massage, but persevered until the final cool-down and the aforementioned smattering of tourist applause. This was followed by the most satisfying Savasana, as yoga teacher Laura Francis serenaded us a cappella with the Gayatri Mantra in Sanskrit. I lay on the lawn of one of the busiest buildings in the capital city of one of the busiest states in the country, completely in the moment, watching the clouds drift by.