Today, I want to explain the significance of the number 108 and why anyone in their right mind would possibly practice that many sun salutations in a row. (Sign up here!)
I remember the first time I did 108 sun salutations. My friend, Jenlyn, wanted to do them for her birthday. I was less than enthused about it. I'm someone that enjoys physical exercise, but also complains the whole time. To be honest, I don't complain the whole time.. just the entire time leading up to it. The more challenging the more I complain almost like a defense mechanism. If I talk about how much it sucks before then I'll be pleasantly surprised when its not that bad. Spoiler: I totally survived my first 108. I wasn't even that sore after, but I was very proud of myself. Every time I finish 108 sun salutations I swear it'll be the last time I do it. And somehow, I do 108 every year.
This year, I'm leaning into that discomfort and the "I don't wanna" by hosting 108 sun salutations online... and I want you to join me. Seriously. I'm hosting this online so you can practice in your home and its totally free. You can do this. I know it. So if you're reading this and thinking "no way" I'm telling you "yes way". You have no excuses at all. I promise you can do it and you will be proud of yourself.
I'll be honest with you, I kind of love that New Years Resolution energy. Everyone is so motivated for change for the better. Even if it lasts for just a week with busy gyms and full classes. The buzz of hope and determination is in the air, and it is so inspiring. The reason so many resolutions fail are because we're trying to cram ourselves into boxes that we don't fit in... yet. I plan on posting another blog this week about "New Years Resolutions vs New Years Intentions". My point right now, is the best way to feel even more motivated for a new beginning is ending on a high note. It is hard to do 108 sun salutations. Finishing 2020 with such a huge accomplishment will put you in that headspace to hit the ground running in 2021.
Okay, so 108. Why is this the number? There are lots of reasons for 108 being an auspicious number, and I'll try to quickly cover just a few.
First, and one of my favorites, 108 relates the sun, the moon, and the earth. The sun is on average 108 times it's diameter away from the earth. The moon is also 108 times it's diameter away from the earth. Crazy, right?
In Buddhism, 108 is found when multiplying the senses (smell, tough, taste, hearing, sight, and consciousness) by their condition (painful, pleasant, or neutral) by their origin (internal or external) by the time (past, present, or future). 6x3x2x3=108
In Japan, at midnight on December 31st buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times to symbolize tand to get rid of the 108 worldly desires. Technically, it is run 107 times on the 31st and once when the clock turns to midnight to bring one year into the next. This is thought to cleanse everyone of the past year's problems to begin the new year.
Lastly, for me today because I've really gone down a rabbit hole with this number, are what the numbers themselves represent. 1 can represent God or a higher truth (whatever word you assign to that). 0 can represent emptiness, nothingness. 8 can represent infinity or eternity. I'll let you interpret that however you'd like. (I found myself on a golden ratio, universal representation deep plunge in case you're wondering.)
Sun Salutations - Surya Namaskara
The sanskrit name 'surya' means 'sun' and 'namaskara' means salutations. Sun salutations are a way of honoring the sun for without the sun, there would be no life. While these were not part of the original yogic texts, they were handed down from enlightened sages and added later. The physical practice of yoga was to help strengthen the body to sit in meditation longer. Today, there are several different variations of sun salutations. Truthfully, almost every yoga studio I have ever practiced in had their own version of a sun salutation. Sun salutations are excellent full body exercises. They build heat necessary to burn off excess. By linking breath to movement sun salutations can become more of a moving mediation. Often, we don't move enough in the same way that we don't have to think about it making the 'meditative' part seem non-existent. I promise after 108 sun salutations you'll have trouble forgetting the order of these asanas.
For this practiced I plan on completing this together as a group. Together we will practice 10 sun salutations at a time until we make it to 108. I will guide the first few rounds of sun salutations, and offer variations. Then we will shift more into that meditative phase of quiet focus on the movement.
I know you can do this. I can't wait for you to join me. Let's end 2020 on a high note so we can look forward to 2021 with our heads held high.