Yoga Mala – Finally

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So, it’s been nine days now and I’m afraid it’s fading from my memory, so I’d better get about it and write about the yoga mala already. Sorry, it’s been a little hectic around here. We’ve had potty training and work deadlines and forgotten homework and, well, you know how it goes.

But I refuse to let this pass by without documenting it. To refresh, a yoga mala is 108 sun salutations and this event was done to raise money for charity:water. I wrote about it here. Sadly, there were only four people there – two participants and two instructors. Amazingly, we were able to raise $925 for charity:water together! While I really wish that more people had come for the cause, it was nice to have just four. We all did it together, with Dayle, who organized the event, leading us through the first 8-10. Dayle gave us each 108 black beans, each of which had been blessed with a mantra by her teenaged students, to count each round with by moving them from one side of the mat to the other.

Each sun salutation is the same, alternating which foot you start with. We began in tadasana, moved into urdhva hastasana and then dived down into standing forward fold. From there we stepped back into a low lunge and then to downward facing dog, rolling forward into plank and then taking a vinyasa – either chatarunga followed by upward facing dog or knees-chest-chin followed by baby cobra. After the vinyasa, push back to downward facing dog and then step forward into a low lunge, with the other foot following into standing forward fold. All of it done one breath-one movement, If you don’t do yoga, I’m sure none of that made any sense. Very simply, you do a series of movements and then repeat the whole thing over again.

After Dayle stopped calling out the poses, I felt a little lost for a few rounds. I couldn’t remember which foot I had stepped back with, I was afraid I had forgotten to move my bean or that I would forget or that I would move an extra one. But I found a rhythm and began repeating “left” or “right” in my head through each round, at first to remind myself which foot to step with and then just as a comforting mantra.

At first it felt easy and then it felt hard and then it felt really hard. I was sweating and incredibly knees-chest-chin felt just as difficult to complete as chataranga, sometimes even more so. I stood at the front of my mat and took a sip of water and gathered my breath and my energy and then it was easier again. I reminded myself to take child’s pose and to breathe and that it was ok to wipe my face and arms with the towel sometimes. About halfway through I looked at the original pile of beans and the new pile of beans and felt like the new pile looked impossibly small. For a second I wanted to scatter it all over the room and say “forget it!” Then a good song came on and gave me more strength and I keep going.

Sometimes all four of us were in sync and sometimes we were each in a different pose at a different time. Sometimes I almost forgot there were other people there. Sometimes the sound of their breath kept me going. Finally I looked at my pile of beans and could easily count how many were left – nine. I decided that I wouldn’t try to get through them all. I ended up taking a little break when there were four. That dwindling pile on the left side of my mat and the growing pile on the right moved me on and on and then, it was done. I stretched out and laid back and breathed deep. I did pigeon to release my poor legs.

When we had all finished and done what we needed we moved into a wonderful supported savasana and then into a long, relaxing, blissful savanasa on the floor. I felt sort of giddy, like at the end of a long run, as my heart finally found it’s beat again and my body melted into the floor. At the end we took some photos and chatted a bit. It was worth ever effort, both in raising donations and in the physical work.

My charity:water campaign is still going for another 78 days and it would be wonderful to reach my goal, even though the event has already passed. I am so blessed to have been a part of this. It’s a wonderful cause and such an amazing way to help people. I said to a lot of people that many of us raise money for great causes and most do it because they know someone who has been personally affected – but how many of us know someone who doesn’t have access to clean water? For that reason, I’m glad I learned about charity:water and was able to help spread the word.

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Yoga for Water

Although I was aware of the need for clean water in much of the world, it wasn’t a cause I had ever thought of getting involved in. Then, one of my favorite yoga instructors, the lovely and amazing Dayle Pivetta organized a yoga for charity event at the studio I belong to. I will be participating in a Yoga Mala this Friday night to raise money for charity:water.

Basically, a yoga mala is 108 sun salutations. You can learn a little more about it here. I was very intimidated and I’m still a little scared of 2 straight hours of Surya Namaskar. But Dayle convinced me by telling me that as she practiced it, she tried to think of the women in Africa who walk 8 hours a day just to bring clean water to their families. A very good point. If they can do that, I can do 2 hours of yoga. Plus it feels good to do good. I participated in a yoga charity event once before and I was astounded by how wonderful it felt to come together with other people to do something physical in the name of a good cause.

The charity:water website is very informative. It’s amazing the amount of suffering caused by the lack of something so essential to human existence. Something that most of us take completely for granted. Lack of clean water leads to a multitude of problems, most of which especially affect women and children. From water-borne disease, to the time and energy spent getting clean water, to the inability to keep hands clean, the lack of clean water is a huge burden on a significant portion of the world’s population.

Charity:water uses 100% of donations to fund water projects including building wells and filtration systems, building latrines, and teaching sanitation, freeing women and children to spend time in other important things, like fueling the local economy and getting an education and saving thousands of lives.

To donate to charity:water, please visit my page at http://my.charitywater.org/p/profile. It’s a wonderful cause, a wonderful event, and it would also mean a lot to me.