Infinate space and possibilies = excitement + fear/confusion

After spending eight days in Maine (ironically on the property where Taylor Swift just shot her latest video “Mine,” which premiered tonight), I returned to teaching full time this week.

Things have been a little intense. I find myself wondering all the time if this was all a dream. Did I really do 108 days of sun salutations? Did I really do 32 hours of yoga straight?

While I was away on holiday, I spent a lot of time staring out at the ocean, fascinated by the line that divides the deep blue water from the pale blue sky. I wondered for a brief moment why so many, myself included, find this to be one of the most captivating and desirable views on earth. I think it’s the immenseness of it– this landscape of infinite space and endless possibilities. It’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

At the moment my current state of mind is like a bit like a boey without an anchor. Part of me feels free– free from the obligations of the last four months and free with a floating idea of accomplishment. The other side of me is getting tired of treading water, not knowing which way to go next. I feel antsy and a bit confused, which can be a little frightening after having so much direction and purpose.

I guess this is the stage ‘they’ call “TRANSITION”…

It’s weird. I’m having a hard time processing everything and figuring out what to do with my spare time, what to teach and how to express myself. In truth, I’m feeling overwhelmed. A couple of my friends suggested that I’m in some kind of denial because I have been reluctant to talk about the challenge even to those closest to me. It’s not that I don’t want to talk or write about it, it’s just that I don’t really know how to communicate the experience right now. Perhaps it just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Nevertheless, I made some big progress today. After staring at the unopened envelope containing the “Official Guinness World Record Certificate of Approval” on my desk for almost a week, totally intimidated by it (please don’t ask), I finally caved to Craig’s insistence.

It’s pretty cool. Everything is there. They even spelled my name correctly.

(But don’t rush out and buy the next Guinness Book of World Records for me, please. I won’t be in this upcoming edition, because it was already published by the time I challenged record for the longest yoga marathon… Maybe next year!)

* Oh, and save the date: Sept 19, we’re having a reunion yoga practice and pot luck at my studio.

It’s OFFICIAL!

I just got the word:

Dear Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow,

Thank you for your recent evidence. We are pleased to confirm you have set a new Guinness World Record for ‘Longest Yoga Marathon (Female)’.

A certificate has been couriered to you and should arrive shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Guinness World Records

 

WooHooo! I think I’m going to have a gathering of sorts at the studio sometime in September. Maybe a potluck party? You will all be invited, of course. :)

For now, I’m in Maine on a little beach retreat with Craig and my parents. It’s lovely to wake up near the sea and do yoga outside. I am trying to practice twice daily– a hour before breakfast and an hour before dinner. It’s a good routine, but I’m allowing myself a little flexibility to do whatever I feel like. After so much busyness in the last four months, it is also great to spend time with people I love. I am enjoying being immersing myself in vacation mode, which involves plenty of reading, beach combing and food.

(The book I’m reading right now is “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I highly recommend it. Very inspiring.)

* * *

I still want to meet my fundraising objective of $10,800 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation by Dec. 1. We’re 22% of the way there. Anything you can contribute to this great cause is really appreciated. Please spread the word. Also, if you have any ideas for how I can continue fundraising, please let me know.

Here’s the link to my online donation page: http://stephenlewisfoundation.akaraisin.com/p/yasminyoga.aspx

Reflections one week later

Hello my friends,

I just want to let you know that all is well with me. I am slowly emerging from the 32 hour yoga marathon practice and this blissful 108 day journey. I am unharmed. My muscles were a little sore last Wednesday, the day after, but all and all, I feel good. (Especially after being a sloth for a couple of days. Here’s a photo Craig took on Aug 4th, the ‘day after’. Jamie, Craig and I sprawled on the couch eating pizza and watching a movie.)

I am still processing the events of the last week along with all the attention my story has received. (An article about the marathon was published in The Times of India on Aug 4. And yesterday one of the editors from Yoga Journal called the studio to congratulate me. I have know idea how all these people heard about this, but it is very funny to me. I suppose this is my 15 minutes of fame!) The whole experience is still surreal to me. I keep finding myself questioning, “Did I really do 108 days of 108 sun salutations? Did I actually do 32 hours of yoga? How did I do this?”

I am currently going through all the footage of the 32 hour practice and listing all 1008+ postures I did. (I need to submit a final list of poses for my Guinness application, which is nearly complete.) This is a tedious process and I’ve been working on all day, but the more time I spend looking at the videos the more emotional I’m becoming. It feels like I am experiencing the whole 32 hour practice all over, at least the emotions of it. It’s intense.

I’ve actually been getting emotional quite a bit lately. I am so touched by all the notes and messages I’ve been received. One woman who came for the last two hours of my practice told me after that being in the studio at the final minutes of the challenge made her think of all the unmanifested dreams they still have and how they too could be realized. I become teary every time I am reminded that this wasn’t just about me. This was a shared experience that I would not have been as powerful if even one of those people visiting, practicing or volunteering hadn’t been there. It was like an alchemy of the energy of everyone present. I really felt like I was simultaneously being lifted and grounded by the people around me. I feel so so so grateful for all your support.

At first, it was strange to practice knowing that there were about a dozen sets of eyes on me, watching and noting my every move. But then I moved into a different space, where I was so intently focused on every aspect of my body and practice and they, the witnesses, timekeepers, camera operators, spectators and practitioners, became an integral part of this journey. They allowed me to enter even deeper consciousness, one that helped me let go and dive into unknown waters of transformational bliss. It was very powerful.

The hardest part of the 32 hours for me was 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. One of the breaks got mixed up and I ended up having to do a four hour and twenty minute set, as opposed to a four hour one. It also seemed that at that point, I was still so far off my goal time and dusk was settling in. There were also a thunder storm, so it became dark very quickly, which didn’t help

But, the night practice from 11pm to 7am was truly amazing. That’s when, as Craig said, “All the rockstars came in.” Len Blum, the reformed Hollywood writer of The Pink Panther, Howard Stern’s Private Parts and other block busters, was the yoga teacher witness over night and he was so fantastic. He was alert the whole time and offered me several wonderful adjustments. My parents also came into the studio with their yoga mats in hand for the “2 am yoga class,” and my brother hung out with us as well. The team of witnesses and timekeepers included some very cool people. However, the highlight for the night for me was when Miranda read Rumi poetry aloud for about an hour straight. She has such an amazing voice and she is such an intellectual. Marie-Marguerite Sabongui also joined us for encouragement. She was such a trooper. But alas, the MVP of the night, would have to be my boyfriend Craig. He was (and is) my right hand. He was so devoted to this whole project from Day 1 doing the photos, practicing with me, reading over my blog posts at night, and during the final 32 hours, he was champion. He dealt with and oversaw every issue that came up, he catered to not just my needs (smoothies, electrolyte beverages, etc.), but also made sure that every volunteer was comfortable at all times.

So now, one week later, it seems like a life time has passed since my 108 days. I admitted to Craig this evening that I’m a little nostalgic for the practice and the blogging days. He reminded be that this is a new beginning and that there is no reason to pause my blog. Very true.

I have been practicing here and there. I did 90 sun salutations on Sunday outside in the country, which felt amazing. My plan is to practice six days a week (Sunday to Friday) and do one 108 practice a week. As I said, I’d like to develop a practice that follows and supports the hormonal changes in a woman’s body throughout the month. But first, I want to close this Guinness chapter and submit all my paperwork for their review. Hopefully, I will be able to send everything tomorrow and maybe go on vacation to Maine!

By the way, so far, we’ve raised close to $2500 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Thank you Thank you Thank you! My goal is $10,800. So, I’m continuing to fundraise until Dec. 1.

If you want to make a donation, here’s the link to my online fundraising page:
http://stephenlewisfoundation.akaraisin.com/p/yasminyoga.aspx

PS I started writing this post on Friday, Aug 6 and finished it on Wed. Aug 11

Day 108 – Speechless.


We made it. 108 days of 108 surya namaskar. 32 hours of yoga… What a beautiful journey.

Lots to process.

It was a deep practice and an incredible experience.

I’m so grateful.

Thank you Thank you Thank you

(I may disconnect for a few days just to absorb, but I’ll be back soon.)

Day 107 – 15 hours, 51 minutes


I feel truly blessed to have a friend like Yasmin.

(That may be a cliche thing to say, but a warning to potential readers: this blog post will be filled with high sentimentalism. Don’t know how to avoid it; it’s just how I feel!)

So: I feel blessed to have a friend like Yasmin. And I feel honoured to have been asked to write this post in her stead, since she’s busy breaking a Guinness world record today. I’m sure many of you, like me, have been moved, inspired, and motivated by this page over the last three months. She’s really pushed herself to the limits physically, emotionally, and psychologically – and like Len Blum said to her a few weeks ago, the blog has been a major part of the journey. It has forced her to reflect on lessons learned. A lot of those reflections resonated with me – reflections about the pains of personal growth and of uncovering things you may not want to see in the process, reflections about dealing with criticism, reflections about moving past exhaustion while continuing to be good to yourself. And so, I feel fortunate to have a friend who doesn’t shy away from digging deep. I’m going to miss hearing her written voice here.

I guess my blog post serves as a testimonial to her initiative. Tonight at 9 pm, 12 hours into the challenge, Yasmin sat in lotus and gingerly did a speakerphone interview with the Gazette. When asked why she’s trying to break this world record, she said that for a long time her work has been to encourage others to push themselves beyond their imagined capabilities and to then witness their progress. She said that doing her 108 x 108 and culminating in this 32 hour challenge was her way of practicing what she preaches. She said she wanted to inspire others to follow her lead: to not settle for what they think they could do, but to set goals beyond their limits, and then exceed those limits. In a period of transition this summer between graduate school and ‘real life,’ I’ve been contemplating my personal limits a lot. Hearing her say that really shook me, and reminded me that (sentimentalism alert!) I would be doing everyone a huge disservice if I didn’t just suck up my fears and try to make my own impact on the world. Thank you Yasmin.

For those of you who want a straightup factual update about how she’s doing: we’re at the half way mark. It’s the middle of the night. There is a very supportive energy in the room, and aside from a few tense moments surrounding witness/timekeeper/teacher shift switches and confusion about breaktimes, the environment is pretty stress free. Yasmin is getting mellow now, but her energy is good, and we’re all confident that she’s gonna make it to hour 32, and do it with a smile. Craig is making sure she’s well fed and Frances and Marie-Anne are making sure she’s on time.

A closing thought: A few of us practiced with Yasmin in the last 4 hour segment, and as did our sun salutations I counted them down out loud for us. It was bittersweet. There is something grounding and comforting about moving through the salutations and counting them, something unifying about counting them down together. It reminded me of when I first came back home to Montreal and did 54 surya namaskar with Yas on day 30-something. I’ll miss the counting but we’ve all come a long way. It’s been a good journey.

(It took me a while to write, so there’s an hour’s difference between the time in the photo, and the time of this post)

Oh, right, I forgot. Hi! This is Marie-Marguerite, by the way.

Day 106 – tomorrow’s the big day (FAQ)

Donations for the Stephen Lewis Foundation –
People can donate online and receive an instant tax receipt. My fund raising page can be reached through the Om West website: www.westislandyoga.com or directly at:
http://stephenlewisfoundation.akaraisin.com/p/yasminyoga.aspx

Hello, it’s Miranda again – Yas’ frequent 108 companion. She asked that I write the intro to the blog tonight because, as you all know, tomorrow is a monumental day and the priority for this evening is: REST.

Today we practiced in the beautiful park near our house, the weather too gorgeous to pass up. It seemed strange going through those motions for the last time together, in this mission. I asked Yas if she thought she would miss it and she laughed saying she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with all of her free time. But, truthfully, the real test is before her.

Tomorrow’s challenge is a formidable one, but Yas is ready. Her journey through these last 106 days has brought about so much growth and awareness, priming her for an even vaster expansion of her practice, commitment to exceeding her own boundaries, and insight into herself. It is difficult to prepare for such a feat of human ability but, if anyone can do it, Yasmin can.

So, starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. and concluding on Tuesday at 5 p.m., the doors to Centre Holistic Om West will be open to all people who wish to practice with, show support for, or cheer on Yasmin. And, if you cannot offer your physical presence, send all the loving, supportive energy to Yasmin that you can!

And, some pertinent information and answers to those burning questions about Yasmin and the initiative (in Yas’ words)…

Who am I?
I am 28 years-old yoga instructor, writer, speaker and activist. I started practicing yoga at age 14 and started teaching at 19, while in university at Concordia in Journalism and Communications. I am now the owner and director of Centre Holistique Om West (Om West Holistic Centre) in Pointe Claire Village.

About the project –
For the three and a half months, I’ve been on a ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ to complete 108 sun salutations for 108 consecutive days. Aug 2 and 3 are my last two days of this journey, which I’ve documented on here on my blog. To celebrate the end of this incredible adventure, I decided to do a 32 hour yoga practice, and in doing so, be the first woman to challenge the Guinness World Record™ for the longest yoga challenge and raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

What is the significance of 108?
108 is an auspicious number in many religions and texts, Hinduism and yoga included. According to an article on Yoga Journal,

“The number’s significance is open to interpretation. But 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra—much like the Catholic rosary.

Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Such phenomena have given rise to many examples of ritual significance.

According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.”

Where is this all happening?
The challenge will take place at my studio, Om West, at 46-3 Ste Anne St., Pointe Claire Village, starting at 9:00am on Mon. Aug. 2 and ending Tues. Aug. 3 at 5:00pm. People are welcome to drop in and visit or come practice with me!

What is the current GWR record?
The longest yoga marathon lasted 29 h 4 m and was achieved by Michael Schwab (Austria) during the event Vienna Recordia, in Vienna, Austria, on 26-27 September 2009.

What is my goal?
My goal is 32 hours, although to get into the GWR book as the first woman, I need to do a minimum of 24 hours.

The Schedule of the 32 hours

Monday Aug 2
8:00 am Set up
9:00 am START
1:00 pm Yas’ 1st scheduled 20 min break
5:20 pm Yas’ 2nd scheduled 20 min break
9:40 pm Yas’ 3rd scheduled 20 min break

Tuesday Aug 3
2:00 am Yas’ 4th scheduled 20 min break
6:20 am Yas’ 5th scheduled 20 min break
10:40 am Yas’ 6th scheduled 20 min break
2:00 pm Yas takes a 15 min break
4:15 pm Yas takes a 10 min break
5:00 pm FINISH!

What are the GWR rules?
The activity must be continuous, the activity must be of a type that would be acceptable in a yoga class, the record breaker must demonstrate a broad range of postures, the attempt must be supervised by a yoga teacher.