On Saturday, I participated in my first-ever summer solstice event, joining about 50 other people in doing 108 sun salutations at one of the parks downtown. It really doesn’t get much more Ithaca than that – in fact, I might as well buy myself some Birkenstocks and grow dreadlocks and dine on chia seeds.
I read somewhere that the 108 sun salutations is yoga’s equivalent to a marathon, which I don’t think is entirely true. Mostly because without any training, I managed to finish, and while I was pretty sore the next day, I didn’t want to die — which is generally my experience with running.
I was proud of myself for doing it — and I think I owe that to this backwards “40 Before 40” bucket list thing. It’s inspiring me in exactly the way I had hoped — to try new things on a more spontaneous basis. When my future sister-in-law (a part-time yoga instructor) first told me about the event, I was intrigued, but not enough to fully commit… until I remembered I could add it to my list. Then it became very exciting.
So, why 108 sun salutations? That’s the first question I’ve been asked by nearly everyone.
The number’s significance seems to be open to interpretation. 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas (prayer beads) come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). The number also connects the sun, moon, and earth: The average distance of the sun and the moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
Happy Solstice! Now pass the vegan cheese please.