We just rounded the corner of the summer solstice and thousands of yogis around the world met for various celebrations to kick off the longest day of the year. You can bet many of these were outside events (more than 16,000 yogis signed up for the 11th annual Solstice celebration in NYC’s Times Square). And many also featured yoga’s equivalent of a marathon: 108 sun salutations.
Yes, it is indeed what it sounds like. People challenge themselves to repeat a simple salutation (usually variations on Surya Namaskar A) to the tune of the sacred 108. This year I was among a group of several teachers who led yogis in a local park to celebrate the official change of season. Once my round of salutes was done, I got on my mat and joined the rest of the yogis for the remaining 90 or so.
I’ve yet to run into a person who thinks 108 sun salutes is easy. It’s a challenge no matter how good a shape you’re in. Yet, it is more of a personal challenge since no one is grading you for your performance on your mat, and people are welcome to rest or modify poses when needed. In my own experience, I took care to take breaks, focused on maintaining safe alignment, and I modified things slightly with occasional lunges or hip opening movements any time my body needed a change. I felt good throughout the practice, yet even with all my focused intentions, my body still remembered the more than 90 sun salutes I flowed through for the next couple of days (Sore hammies and deltoids to be sure!). Which brings me to the point here: it’s all fine and dandy when you devote yourself to 108 sun salutations in support of a worthy cause, but what happens after you bang them out and your body feels like it’s been pummeled rather than rejuvenated? Well, here are some tips that came in handy for me in my recovery.
1. Restore With Balancing Finishing Poses/Stretches
If it’s not already incorporated in the practice, enjoy some simple shoulder stretches, backbends, twists, and hip openers after the yoga session to balance your body.
2. Enjoy Some Quick Wrist Therapy
Most likely your wrists are feeling somewhat tender after so many Planks and Chaturanga Dandasanas, modified or otherwise. Gently roll the wrists for a few minutes and if you’ve got a buddy nearby, they can gently pull, or traction, your wrists for you, too. You can also reduce any swelling or achiness for your wrists by either running cold water over them for several minutes or icing them. It won’t be comfortable but your wrists will thank you for it the next day.
3. Drink Plenty Of H2O
Duh, but sometimes it’s good to get the reminder, just like breathing. You’ve just done a lot of strenuous activity where you might not have paused for a drink, so try to replenish fluids and flush out any residual toxins by enjoying several glasses of water the rest of the day.
4. Refuel With Nourishing Chow
Similar to getting your H2O, eating highly nutritious and natural foods will restore any depleted resources. Stay away from heavily processed junk and aim for wholesome foods.
5. Take A Healing Bath Or Shower
There are differing expert opinions on the temperature of the bath after—some like ‘em hot, some cold, or alternating—and it might change if you have any injuries, too. If all you’re dealing with is soreness, I like to go with a temperature comfortably in between hot & cold to get you back to feeling normal again.
6. Enlist Your Favorite Natural Pain Reliever, If Needed
If you’re already feeling sore, try using herbal remedies like arnica or Tiger Balm to help alleviate aches.
7. Rest & Sleep Well
There is nothing a good night’s sleep can’t help, right?
8. Tone Down The Strenuous Activity
Think exercise-lite for a few days – Rather than sign up for that long hike or advanced level yoga class the next day, enjoy a restorative workout in the days following your yoga marathon. You could even consider a gentle yoga class or leisurely swim (i.e. use your floaties!) to soothe achy muscles. Lay off active stretches or overly strenuous tasks, and take on a more soothing approach to your next workouts.
9. Amp Up The TLC
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had massage stations at these yoga marathons? But until that happens we can either sign ourselves up for a full body therapeutic massage at your favorite spa or bribe a friend to spend some time on those tender muscles. Love thy body!
10. Practice Patience And Listening
When you’re dealing with soreness it can be all too tempting to push yourself past your limit if you let your ego take over. But the last thing you’d want is soreness to turn into injury by ignoring signals from your body. So give yourself plenty of time to restore until your body’s back to full speed. Remember you’ve already overcome a big challenge. Now it’s time to bask!
Though it goes without saying, do give yourself a pat on the back for challenging yourself in this way, and meeting the challenge so beautifully! Not everyone thinks 108 sun salutes are a must do in a lifetime, much like triathlons or marathons, so it takes a special kind of person to commit to these kinds of endurance challenges. Rock on and practice easy!