Time to start building up your vinyasa practice for 108. Every winter solstice, we gather with our community at The Space to practice 108 Sun salutes. Everyone is invited to this koha class. This year we’ll be contributing all funds raised the the Karioi Project, protecting biodiversity in Whaingaroa.
Don’t worry if you haven’t done 108 before. We will offer options for rest. It’s not about the finish line. Yoga’s not just about touching your toes. It’s not about competition or doing 108 perfect chaturangas (actually, feel free to skip chaturanga in the traditional Sun salute style). It’s about sharing the space with your community, staying present with the breath, and letting the Sun salute flow through your awareness, and as many times as feels good, that can be enacted through your body too.
The number 108 has cultural, spiritual and universal significance. We practice 108 sun salutes on the winter solstice, when the Earth's nearest pole is at its maximum tilt away from the Sun, creating the longest night of the year and the lowest angle of the Sun in the sky. 108’s significance here is that the average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. We could do anything 108 times, but we do Sun salutes to balance the surrounding darkness and find the light within.
According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 names for Hindu deities, 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body. There’s also 108 beads on a Catholica rosary or a Tibetan mala, both string of prayer beads used to count prayers. The ritual and repetition of mantra attracts spiritual energy, calms the mind and builds focus.Just like a mala practice, a sun salute practice of 108 repetitions is a way to ground, centre and deepen your focus. It introduces a physical challenge for sure.
· Practice beforehand! Try working up it in the weeks that lead up to winter solstice. Try 12 rounds of Sun salutes, then 20, and then 30 minutes of Sun salutes to an awesome playlist. The full practice takes about 90 minutes, so once your body is used to about 1/3 of that, your muscles and joints should be ready for the full practice.
· Drink plenty of water the day before so your body is hydrated, joints are lubricated and muscles are nourished! As the practice is detoxifying, make sure you nourish yourself afterwards with more water, rest and good food.
· Take breaks! Unlike a marathon, it’s not about doing every single round, but about sharing the space with other yogis so that collectively, we are present for 108 rounds. Childs pose is a great place to reflect on the effects of the practice, re-center and recalibrate for as many rounds as needed. It’s the intent that counts. Follow your heart not your ego!
· Be ready mindfully. As the practice is repetitive, you’ve got more time in your own head than a varied 90-minute class. You might want to use this time to bring a mantra into the practice, a full body mala. Or just to breathe in what you want to cultivate in the year to come (it could be balance, light, self-care) and breathe out what you don’t need anymore (perhaps grief, doubt or worry).
Check out the image below for the Sun Salute style that we’ll be running with so you can practice at home! And join us on June 21st at 6:30am at The Space Raglan.