Our journey to the sun: 108 Sun Salutations for Peace

108 sun salThis past Sunday, my husband and I joined ~100 fellow Sacramento yogis in 108 rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) in front of the California Capitol building. The two hour yoga practice was part of Peace Day Sacramento 2014 in honor of the United Nations appointed day of peace. Teachers from a dozen local studios took turns leading us through the flow. I was amazed at how a simple sequence like Surya Namaskar sounded different depending on the teacher’s personality and intention. It was another reminder for me to be more authentic in my teaching and personal practice. After our flow we meditated on peace then joined hands to create of  love.circle of peace

As someone who practices yoga every single day and teaches others, still 108 rounds tasked my body a bit. To be kind to my joints and muscles I made the following Surya Namaskar modifications:

  • Alternate between chaturanga dandasana, knees-chest-chin or just lowering down to the mat for transitions
  • Alternate baby cobra for upward facing dog
  • Stay in downward dog in the place of plank-> chaturanga dandasana-> upward facing dog
  • Bend knees during standing forward fold
  • Child pose whenever I needed a break

Why 108?

108 is considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. This is part of the reason why you’ll notice that malas (prayer beads) often have 108 beads. Here are some of the theories on the importance of 108:

  • 9 times 12 = 108 and both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti (54 x 2 = 108)
  • Fun Fact: The sum of “The Numbers” in the TV show Lost (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42) is 108. It is also the number of minutes within which these numbers must be entered into the computer and the button must be pushed.
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