108 Sun Salutations is a buzzing trend in the yoga community, especially with the New Year right around the corner!
Before you even think it, I’ll address the most common thought when the number 108 is thrown out there.
Yes – 108 of anything is a commitment and a tad intimidating.
No – it’s not impossible.
Yes – anyone can do 108 sun salutations with the right intention, a strong breath, and a willingness to get a bit sweaty!
So let’s address the next thought, why the number 108 and what is the purpose behind this tradition? Keep reading because I know you’re dying to get started (my attempt at sarcasm, I know it’s poor but humor me)!
Before we dive into the WHAT and WHY behind this tradition, let me first explain what a sun salutation even is. If you’re a practicing yogi then you can skip to the next paragraph but for all my beginners – listen up!
A sun salutation is simply a salute to the sun; it’s a way to greet the day, practice gratitude, get your blood flowing, and create some beautiful prana (energy)! It is also referred to as Surya Namaskar in yoga classes so don’t be alarmed when a yoga teacher uses this terminology.
The sequence involves nine postures that are linked by the breath – inhaling and exhaling with each movement. For a breakdown on how to do salute the sun, read my article here.
Sun salutations are a great way to build heat and get the heart pumping before any physical activity, not just yoga! Try doing five to ten sets in the morning before your day begins, it’s a wonderful form of natural caffeine!
Now that we know what a sun salutation is, let’s get into why we would put ourselves through this in the first place.
Like many religions and beliefs, this a form of cleansing, wiping the slate clean, renewing oneself, or preparing for a new period of life.
In Judaism, a day of fasting is practiced to cleanse yourself of all the past year’s sins and to move forward with a fresh start, this is called Yom Kippur. In Christianity, 40 days of fasting or abstinence from something is followed in preparation for Easter.
Throughout history and across all beliefs, some form of tradition is practiced to welcome in a new beginning.
In the yoga community, this is ours!
The tradition of 108 sun salutations is typically performed upon the change of seasons: Winter & Summer Solstice and Spring & Fall Equinox. It’s an offering to yourself and the community that participates alongside you.
The final question to tackle is – why the number 108!
Below are a few of the many reasons why this number is significant to Eastern beliefs and the yoga community. For a full explanation behind the mysterious number, check out this Elephant Journal article.
Why the Number 108:
- The number 108 breaks down to:
- 1 = God or a Higher Truth
- 0 = Emptiness or Completeness
- 8 = Infinity or Eternity
- There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, each one has a masculine and feminine quality – Shiva & Shakti. 54 letters x 2 qualities = 108.
- The Chakras are energy lines in our body that start at the root of our body and travel up to the crown of our head. It is said there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra, Anahata.
- A mala necklace is an Eastern rosary used for mantras, chanting, and prayer – it has 108 beads.
- There are 108 names for the revered Hindu God, Shiva.
- There are 9 vinyasa movements linked to breath in a sun salutation and 12 x 9 = 108.
- There are 108 Upanishads – an ancient text that is highly revered in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
So now that you’re enlightened on this awesome yoga tradition, where can you actually do this!
- A quick Google search of local yoga studios in your community is a great place to start.
- Or if you’re near some of the larger yoga & wellness centers, seek out their event schedules.
- If this new found idea of moving & breathing for 108 repeated times is nowhere to be found, then convince a few friends to do it with you.
- Pick an inspiring location (park, beach, your backyard or living room), roll out your mats, play some music really loud, and get to sun salutationing.
I might have just made up that word but who cares…
If you live in St. Petersburg, FL then you’re definitely in luck!
The Body Electric Yoga Company (my home studio) puts on an amazing event to continue this beautiful tradition. It’s held outside at a local brewery (Green Bench), with a DJ playing inspiring music, a teacher on a microphone guiding the entire movement, 50 or 60 students helping create positive energy, and fresh air to keep the blood flowing. Doesn’t all of that sound magical?
Of course it does!
Afterwards, everyone hangs out and enjoys some delicious home brewed beer, maybe does another sun salutation or two (yeah right), and then rejoices in how much energy was created and shared amongst one another.
I participated last year for the firs time, dragged my non-yoga practicing boyfriend along, and even he had a great time. You don’t need to be a yogi or even remotely interested in yoga to reap the benefits of this great tradition (no excuses)!
Treat yourself and participate in this uplifting experience, you won’t regret it. Remember to drink plenty of water, listen to your body and take breaks when needed, and most importantly – HAVE FUN!
In honor of 2015 and starting with a fresh outlook, I leave everyone with one of my favorite quotes that always lights my fire and reminds me that life is beautiful and filled with opportunity!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
Hey! I’m Allie.
I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.
I wanna learn it all!
The Yoga Reset Guide is my FREE 7-step journey to deepen your practice and recenter your body, mind and soul. Self-paced, no equipment necessary, perfect for beginners AND veteran yogis.