Happy Solstice! With the continued travel restrictions due to the pandemic, it is a pleasure to get outside, especially when the sun shines. The days are short this time of year, so it’s important to soak up as much sunlight as we can.
With some yogis, it is a ritual to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes by doing 108 Sun Salutations. This practice is most often done in large groups and often as an offering, such as an offering of peace or unity. However, you can do these in the comfort of your own home with a video that I created.
Follow along as I guide you through 108 sun salutations, which you can do today on the winter solstice, or anytime you feel like an invigorating yoga session. It takes less than an hour to do all 108 salutations, and you can do as little or as many rounds as you’d like. Click the play button below, or click 108 Sun Salutations to watch it full screen on YouTube.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Number 108 carries spiritual significance throughout a wide swathe of cultures:
* 108 is the number of the Upanishads, sacred treatises comprising Vedic texts with some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism.
* 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 two times fifty-four, which is the number of sounds in Sanskrit (an ancient language of India).
* 108 is six times eighteen, which is a Jewish good luck number.
* 108 is twelve times nine, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation. i
What is the mental benefit of this practice?
The repetition of doing the same moves over and over has a calming and meditative effect on the mind. You can really get a lot out of honoring something so vital and universal as the sun. It forces you to focus on something other than the stresses of daily life.
What is the physical benefit?
This practice tones the long muscles of the body and is a great cardio workout. You will work up a sweat within a few rounds. Read about the many benefits of Sun Salutations here.
When should I do Sun Salutations?
Typically, sun salutations are done in the morning to help warm up the body and release tension. Try doing just 8-10 rounds to feel awakened and alert throughout the day.
Where should I do this?
Anywhere that is convenient, ideally outdoors, weather permitting, facing the sun. If you cannot practice outdoors, try facing a window, a natural spectrum light, fireplace, a candle, houseplants, or an indoor fountain. Our bodies crave nature, movement, vitamin D, and fresh air. Try practicing in a comfortable setting and turn your surroundings into a meditative oasis.
How do I get started? I’ve never tried something like this.
There are many variations of sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar. The style I do in my latest video is Surya Namaskar A. It’s easy, just follow my guidance in the first few rounds on the video. You certainly don’t have to do all 108, so start with a doing 8-10 per day and work your way up gradually. See step-by-step instructions below.
Come to a relaxed standing position near the top of your mat, with your arms at your sides and your feet together. Breathe deeply through the nose and match each breath with a movement. When ready, bring your palms together at your chest, thumbs resting against the sternum (Mountain Pose).
- Inhale and stretch your arms above your head, shoulders back and pelvis forward (slight backward bend in your spine) (Forward Salute Pose).
- Exhale and bend your knees slightly, folding forward with your back straight, lowering your hands to touch the mat on either side of your feet (Forward Fold Pose).
- Inhale half lift, chest forward.
- Exhale step back into Plank Pose and lower your chest and nose to the mat (Chaturanga).
- Inhale and lower pelvis while pushing the chest up, arms straight and shoulders back (Cobra Pose).
- Exhale and raise your tailbone, straightening your arms and legs, pushing your chest toward your thighs and your heels toward the ground (Downward-Facing Dog).
- Inhale step your feet to the top of your mat and lift chest forward
- Exhale Forward Fold Position
- Inhale slowly bring your hands up above your head, shoulders back, pelvis forward
- Exhale and return to the starting position (Mountain Pose) hands to heart center
Repeat until you’re ready to take a break, or continue on for the full 108. In my latest video, it takes about 53 minutes to complete.
Will I be sore?
Probably, but the level of soreness depends on you. I always recommend listening to your own body, modifying poses, and pausing to take breaks when needed. The days after practicing 108 SSs, I feel some soreness in my hamstrings from the forward folds. If you have lower back issues, bend your knees each time you fold forward. I also feel a slight soreness in my upper arms and shoulder muscles from doing all the chaturangas (yogi style pushups). This is a welcome feeling, as it has the effect of reversing the forward hunch of working on my digital devices. Bonus: it helps to tone arms to make them less flabby!
Why am I offering this video now?
I’ve been doing 108 sun salutations on changes of seasons for six years now. I first learned about this tradition in 2014. A yoga studio in Berkeley offered a session of the practice on the day of summer solstice, but the class was going to last three hours. I didn’t have that much time, so I searched YouTube for 108 Sun Salutations and found a variety of videos to follow. In 2018, I decided to record my own sun salutation videos. My 108 Sun Salutations for Spring or Fall Equinox is a series that I recorded at three locations on the UC Berkeley campus. This new video is a continuous flow with clearly marked numbers that stay on screen, so you don’t have to keep track on your own.
What’s with the sunglasses in the video?
I have fair skin and blue eyes, so my eyes are especially sensitive to light. I wear my sunglasses religiously outdoors to protect my eyes. Yeah, it was a pain when they started sliding down my face as I started to sweat. I eventually took them off and continued with my 108 with eyes closed when facing the sun. It felt great on my face and skin to be exposed to the sun! We’ve been covered up in masks all year, so it was nice to take in a “sun bath.”
Questions or comments?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or via email to email@example.com.
Special thanks to Louisiana Jones for location and production assistance.
i“Why 108?” Source: