This year, March 19th, 2020 marks the Spring or Vernal Equinox, also referred to as Ostara, when the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world.
It’s a time to celebrate new beginnings, fertility, and coming out of the winter.
Practicing 108 sun salutations is how yogis traditionally observe the change of seasons. This ritual is considered a cleansing, inner renunciation, and surrender to the new season.
Yogic Tradition of 108 Sun Salutations, the Why and How
The number 108 is an auspicious number not just in the yogic tradition but also in many traditions around the world. For example:
- 108 is the number of names for Shiva in Hindu philosophy
- 108 is the number of names for Buddha
- 108 is the number of stitches on a baseball
- 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary
- 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan mala
- And astronomy shows that the diameter of the sun is 108 times the Earth’s diameter
How to Practice 108 Sun Salutations
Create your space
Place an altar in the center with a shawl or cloth where you, or your friends, can place items that you would like to have charged with the energy of the ceremony. I have seen people put wed-ding rings, a note with an intention, a crystal, a yoga mala, or a picture of a loved one, in the altar space. You can add flowers or sacred figures to the altar.
Place the yoga mat facing your altar
If you are sharing this ceremony, make a circle of yoga mats around the altar.
Have two bowls and place 27 beads in the bowl on the right
You will move the beads from right (bowl of beads) to left (empty bowl) at the beginning of each salutation to keep track of your progress. Move the bowl of beads back to the right again between sets.
Set intentions for each group of 27 (4 sets total)
- One set for personal transformation
- Family or friends
- World peace
- Global health
Start with some warm-up exercises, set the intention for the first round and begin. Here is the sun salutation sequence I like best. This shows the right side. On the second salutation, you would take the left foot back and the left foot forward instead. Each pose is one breath. Begin the sequence with an inhale as you lift the arms to the sun. Each side is one salutation.
After each set of 27, have a rest period of 3-5 minutes. In the end, rest for 15 minutes in savasana.
Moving together in a group creates collective consciousness toward the intention. Remember though, if you don’t have time for 108 sun salutations, it’s fine to practice 27 sun salutations. Your intention is the most important part of this ritual.
The Alchemy of the Spring Equinox
“This is a celebration of balance and union between the light and dark cycles of the year, between the sun and the moon, between yang and yin, fire and water. From this dynamic joining of opposites comes new life, transformation, and manifestation.
From here to the midsummer solstice, the days will lengthen as the sun re-turns bringing increasing strength and warmth, and the nights will shorten. This is the beginning of the growing period, the season of manifestation. It is a time for unions of all kinds, for fertility and birth. Out of union comes new life. This is the natural alchemy of the union inherent in all life on Earth at this time.
I am aware of movement from within to without, aware of the energy surge that propels life forward into the new growth cycle and I hold on to my links to the spirit realms. I consciously unite my spiritual journey with my daily life as I move forward into the expansive growth cycle, so that I bring Spirit to the fertile force of manifestation.”
Adapted from: “The Alchemist’s Journey” by Glennie Kindred