108 Sun Salutations

This is a repost from our friends at Sunburnt & Salty. www.sunburntandsalty.com

You can find the original blog of “108 Sun Salutaions: My First Experience” HERE

It was still dark out when I pulled up to the Lighthouse. I checked my phone – 6:27am – December 31st. It was the final day of 2014 and I was here to complete 108 Sun Salutations. Early mornings in Rincon are so peaceful – so quiet and still. And this morning it was a little bit cool outside, a nice relief to the tropical temperatures that we usually experience here. Dew covered the grass and the leaves of the trees that covered the park around El Faro. You could hear the grumble of the dying swell lapping the rocky coastline. Desecheo Island was barely visible off in the distance, resembling a giant sleeping upon the sea.

Now I’m not going to act like I wasn’t a little nervous about doing 108 Sun Salutations. It was my first time, after all, and I was a little unsure of what to expect. I mean 108… One hundred and eight!? That’s a lot. But I found that I was mostly excited about the challenge and looking forward to ending a good year on a positive note. So I found myself here, along with four other, amazing women at the Lighthouse in Rincon, overlooking the ocean, at 6:30am, on the last day of 2014, awakening our bodies with the rising sun as we said our goodbyes to the past 364 days. Now that’s some powerful shit.

It’s been a tradition in many styles of yoga to perform 108 Sun Salutations upon the changing of the seasons – usually on the days of the Summer & Winter Solstices and the Vernal & Autumnal Equinoxes – completing them as an offering. In our case, the five of us performed these Sun Salutations on the last day of the year as a way to 108release the old, to get grounded in the present, and to make space for what’s to come in the New Year. And you also may be wondering, like I did, why 108? I’ve always known that “108” was deemed an auspicious number in many different cultures and religions, but I never really looked into what it actually represented. Until now. Until I decided to actually participate in performing these 108 Sun Salutations.  If you want to look deeper into the number 108, check out this Elephant Journal article HERE or this Huffington Post article HERE. But below are a couple of facts, which I found to be pretty interesting, surrounding the propitious number:

  • 108 is the number of “Upanishads” comprising the “Vedic Texts” in Indian Philosophy
  • 108 is the number of names for the Hindu god, Shiva
  • 108 is the number of names for Buddha
  • 108 is the Chinese number that represents man
  • There are 108 beads on both a Catholic Rosary and Buddhist Mala Beads
  • There are said to be 108 Earthly desires in mortals; said to be 108 lies that humans tell; and that the Human Soul (Atman) goes through 108 stages on its journey
  • According to Joseph Campbell: 1 + 0 + 8 = 9, nine is the number of the Goddess
  • 11 x 22 x 33 = 108
  • 108 is a Harshad Number, an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. “Harshad” is Sanskrit for “Great Joy”
  • 1 :: God or Higher Truth // 0 :: Emptiness or completeness in Spiritual Practice // 8 :: Infinity or Eternity
  • There are said to be 108 energy lines converging to form the Heart Chakra
  • The diameter of the sun is 180 times the diameter of the Earth
  • In astrology, there are 12 constellations and 9 are segments. Both numbers have spiritual significance. 12 x 9 = 108
  • In astrology, there are also 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 x 9 = 108

Before we began our Sun Salutations we performed a quick Smudging Ceremony, led by Rose, to cleanse our bodies and our space of all the negative energies that may be trying to tag along as we move into the New Year. Following the smudging we joined in a group chant, “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha,”to call upon the energies of elephant-headed diety, Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles and the Lord of New Beginnings. This mantra is said to awaken Shakti, or the manifesting energy of the Universe, which ignites the inner fire. After the smudging and the chanting, together, we began our Sun Salutations. Moving one pose at a time, breath by breath, moment to moment. At first, I allowed myself to be a little intimidated, worried about keeping count and thinking about the other 107 that I had left to do. But we broke the 108 Sun Salutations up into nine sets of 12 (how about some more lucky numbers!) to help keep track, and to make 108 appear a little less intimidating. We allowed ourselves to modify and to drop into a Child’s Pose as needed. And I found that after my second set of 12 I really started to find my flow. The sequences transformed from a set of poses into a moving meditation, where it was just me and my breath and the ocean. I felt like I had perpetual energy. I felt completely at peace. And the next thing I knew, I was on my final set of 12.

As I rested in savasana after my final Sun Salutation I felt a satisfying sense of accomplishment. I was really proud of myself. I also felt an overwhelming love and appreciation for my body, for my mind, and for this life. I felt humbled and grateful and inspired by these women that I got to practice next to, for the ocean that surrounded me, and for the rising sun which held the promise of another blessed day on this planet. It was an incredible first experience with 108 Sun Salutations. And I know it won’t be my last. And I think that each time I complete 108 Sun Salutations it will be a totally different experience, where I will release and realize and gain something new each time. If you’ve never performed 108 Sun Salutations, I highly suggest that you do it. Gather some friends, get out in nature, and get lost in your movements and in your breath. Thank you Rose, Devaki, Stephanie and Erica for sharing with me a positive and powerful way to say goodbye to 2014 and to welcome in the New Year. And here’s to a very positive and prosperous year in 2015.

caitlin

 

Caitlin Lawson is a yoga practicing, wave sliding, positive vibe warrior based out of Rincon, Puerto Rico. Caitlin is a RYT-200, WPA Level 1 Certified, and SUP Yoga Certified. She is the founder of Sunburnt & Salty Yoga Company – sunburntandsalty.com

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