yoga, Missoula, 108 sun salutations, Inner Harmony

108 Sun Salutes

Chris Furtak, my first yoga teacher, announced in class one day we were going to do 108 Sun Salutations on the Winter Solstice. "That's a ridiculous idea," I thought, I had been taking her classes for about a year and a half. The next class I attended she mentioned it again, and in the next class, and the next and next. . . The solstice was approaching and there was that voice inside my head that said, "Why not, it's only 90(ish) minutes. I don't have anything better planned." So I jumped. I did it. All 108. And I lived. I even went to a yoga class the next day. I even did a 108 again, on the Vernal Equinox, and the next five times she led them. Most recently, I was at the Yoga Fitness Center with Thad Haas on New Year's Day, my first 108 in a few years, but I lived through it each time, and will again.

108 is a very daunting number. When you start the mind is nervous, "Can I do it?" After ten or so the mind is relaxed, "This is easy." Once you reach the mid twenties, the mind goes the other way, "Why am I here? This makes no sense." You go on. Once you reach a certain point, maybe around 45, the next 40 go by in a blur, the mind lets go. Sure the body begins to tire, and you adjust your flow accordingly, maybe taking less of a backbend, or skipping the pushup all together, but once you reach 90, the end is in sight. You regain lost strength. The breath carries you. Then you are done. 108. Do a twist, a happy baby, and then settle into the best Savasana of your life.

Whenever I mention 108 sun salutes, people always ask, "Why 108?" The number 108 is very auspicious. It appears in temples from India to Japan to Cambodia. It appears in astrology- the distance the earth is from the sun is 108 times the sun's diameter. It appears in pop-culture- the Oceanic 6 spent 108 days on the island in the TV show 'Lost.' It is the name of a band, an airport, a hospital and an Italian artist. But my favorite reason- it is said mortals have 108 sins, desires, delusions, and lies we tell. For each sun salute you do, one sin is peeled away, like the layers of an onion. After completion you feel pure, maybe that is why you are able to rest so peacefully.

Remember, you don't have to do all 108. You can rest for one, ten or thirty. Maybe set a goal of resting every third one. You can always stay in downward facing dog, or child pose while your neighbor completes one, then join in again. Remember, it is only 90(ish) minutes, it is by donation, and we will provide tea and fruit after, so what do you have to lose?

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