At Yasmin’s Guinness world record yoga practice

The Guinness people do not take their records lightly. To document her 32-hour record for the longest yoga practice, Yasmin-Fudakowska-Gow had to assemble a team of observers, timekeepers, and yoga teachers to certify that the practice did indeed occur, and that it was a real yoga practice with many different postures. The entire event was recorded on video, and followed strict rules laid out by the Guinness organization regarding rest breaks, etc.

This is just the latest in Yasmin’s great dares undertaken to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation , an organization dedicated to supporting community-based organizations that are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa. She had just completed 108 days of doing 108 daily sun salutations for the same cause. She is now 30% on the way to raising $10,800 for the work of the foundation.

My shift covered four hours on the afternoon of the first day, starting after her first half-hour break. Sitting at a table of four people (two observers, a timekeeper, and me), I was handed a sheet of paper outlining Yasmin’s practice plan, and a manual counter. Yasmin had meticulously planned the entire 32 hours, but then blissfully strayed from her plan in the actual practice. At the outset of my shift, she went back to complete postures planned for the earlier shift that she had not done. Then she would tell me as we went along that this posture had already been done, don’t count it, or that this one was from the previous series, but has not been done. Great concentration! In all, I counted some 140 different postures during the 4-hour shift.

Although it was the peak of the day, many of the postures for this part of the practice were quite mild, such as a forward bend with head supported by a chair. Later, Yasmin explained to me that she has observed her energy levels peak at the middle of the day, and that if she did her challenging postures at this time, or a vigorous practice, she would burn up too much energy to sustain her practice for 32 hours. So she did more of the vigorous practice late at night, to keep the energy flowing.

Nevertheless, Yasmin concluded this four-hour segment with salutes to the sun, and I was delighted to get out from behind the table, already feeling numb butt, and join her. There were mats set up, and always at least a few people following along, in Yasmin’s memorable Guinness record yoga practice, August 2-3, 2010.

As Yasmin said after the event: “I am so grateful to everyone that was involved in this crazy project. This was by far the most incredible experience of my life. I have never I felt more present, more in the moment than I did during those 32 hours. Each pose and each breath felt timeless and perfect. It was euphoric and really sacred. I’m still integrating, but I feel like a butterfly emerging from a coccoon.”