Thursday, September 16, 2010

108 ways to get ready for fall!

Even though last week when I saw it on the schedule I thought "Really? 108? In an Hour?...knackering!" I turned up for the Fall Equinox 108 Sun salutation class yesterday because I do like a bit of a challenge! 
In many circles in yoga across the world it is traditional to celebrate the changing of the seasons with this amazingly sweaty and fantastically energizing routine as an offering of peace and unity. This was of course the first day of Autumn and the idea is to shed the active summer energy and to start to draw our energies inwards. 
Well, I had endured a particularly killer class the day before full of core and hips that had a profound affect on my summer energy and I didn't know if I would have any left to tackle the walk from where I park the car to the studio let alone the 108 offerings to the powers that be! But as you know I am a determined yogi and of course I was there, mat in hand, ready to show the autumn just what I had in store for it! It turned out that all yogis within a twenty mile radius had felt the pull to "Downtown yoga" yesterday also, to start off the new season (and unburden the guilt of not having practised for a few weeks probably too!) so it was crammed in there and bloody hot. The one day I forget my towel too...don't you just hate that?! 
Why 108? you may be asking. Let me enlighten you...
The 'Mala', which is what the 108 Sun Salutations practice is called, refers to the number of mantra beads on a mala garland. In Hinduism, and in fact Buddhism also, Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. For my Catholic friends, you are in good company. There are also 108 beads on a rosary.
108 is actually a really powerful and significant number across the cultures and religions of the world. 
A few to ponder upon...

  • 108 "Upanishads" in the Vedic texts
  • There are 108 different names for the Hindu God Shiva
  • There are also 108 names for Bhudda!
  • In Japan the New year is welcomed with 108 tolls of a bell
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth
  • Odysseus' wife, Penelope had 108 suitors
  • There are 108 stitches on a baseball
  • 108 cards make up a deck of Uno
Who needs Wikipedia when you have me and my humble blog?!
So back to the yoga!
The class was packed and everyone was raring to go, mostly raring. Not so much the man next to me whose tight lipped wife had dragged him along because she thought he could do with a bit of spiritual cleansing. It was obvious the type of spirits he was looking to cleanse him where the ones made of malted barley! Anyway, we started all together with a great teacher who gave the modifications and variations of the 9, (or is it 11? The number varies with who you talk to!) asana or postures that make up the Surya Namaskar. And after a few all together, we were off at our own pace. And the energy in the room was amazing. Everyone inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling, with such purpose and vigour. It was like a room full of junkies getting their fix of their drug of choice and floating on the effects. Even whisky man seemed to be digging it!
My big toe got destroyed in the process!
me looking sweaty afterwards!
I know what you are thinking. Did you do 108 Sophie? Well, the truth is, I have no idea! I tried to keep count to start with but then I wondered what the point was. I was loving the whole experience, and the counting was just getting on my nerves. Really will the sun be cross if I don't do exactly 108? All I can say is I sweated my butt off and felt incredible for an hour where nothing else mattered but me and that short sequence.  At the end of the experience I felt spent but absolutely exhilarated...and in need of water! I highly reccommend it to all of you when the winter rolls around go for the 108 and feel the high.

In sanskrit, Surya means sun and namas means to bow or to adore. We were paying tribute to the sun, our main source of light but there is more. Each sun salute begins and ends with the hands together in prayer at the heart. The Ancient yogis taught that the heart is our inner sun and the seat of our wisdom. 
How about that?

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