Yesterday I attended a 108 Sun Salutations Class to welcome winter at the Soul Center in Phoenixville. All proceeds of the class were donated to The Clinic in Phoenixville, serving uninsured and under insured with low-cost or free medical care since 2001. The class was set to live Sitar Music as we were lead through the Sun Salutations by three yoga instructors. The winter solstice is a special day of the year celebrated by many cultures because it marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
Yoga studios across the world gather on the solstice to honor the season. Typically yogis do 108 Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation, is a series of 12 postures performed in a single, graceful flow. Each movement is coordinated with the breath. The Sun Salutation builds strength and increases flexibility. Different styles of yoga perform the Sun Salutation with their own variations. The 108 ritual is performed 4 times a year, with the start of each season, to acknowledge the changing world around us. It usually takes about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete.
Last winter I performed the 108’s with a friend. This was my first time with a group. The class was lead by three instructors. Each instructor led three rounds of 12 Sun Salutations. Participants were encouraged to listen to their bodies and rest in child’s pose and to take drinks. Each instructor led us through Surya Namaskar A. The repetitive movements were meditative. My thoughts settled into the movement and breath. I felt calm and clear. My own yoga practice is gentle and reflective, not as physical as some. For me, this was stepping out of my comfort zone. I learned quickly, not to lower down in plank but just flow from plank to up dog with my toes tucked and then to down dog. This modification worked for me and allowed me to flow and breathe.
Yoga is not only meditative, it is also fun. Everyone laughed when someone upfront said they were dying for a cappuccino. On the last round the instructor encouraged us to set an intention. He suggested the importance of this because last year he set the intention to the universe that Cliff Lee would come back to the Phillies.
I enjoyed the little touches they did to make the class special; the cool peppermint water they sprayed on us which felt great because the room was heated, the cool stones placed on our forehead during Savasana and the tea, apples and cookies after class. The class was amazing. I felt great and only a little sore. After some forward folds this morning I feel really good. I look forward to the 108’s each season, with a class or on my own.
I’m often asked the significance of the number 108. This is from a blog I posted last winter. . Why 108?
The number 108 carries spiritual significance in many cultures108 is the number of "Upanishads" comprising Indian philosophy's "Vedic texts". 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a really important Hindu god). 108 is the number of names for Buddha. 108 is the Chinese number representing "man". 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary. 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan "mala" (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary). 108 is twice the number "54", which is the number of sounds in Sanskrit (sacred Indian language). 108 is six times the number "18", which is a Jewish good luck number. 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation 108 is the number of Sutras in the Yoga Sutras. 1 stands for Higher Truth, 0 stands for Emptiness and 8 stands for Infinity.