In yoga studios across the world, today, March 21, is a special day. The Spring Equinox represents a change in seasons, and it is celebrated by doing 108 Sun Salutations. (Here are the first 5 poses in Sun Salutation A).
Typically this ritual is performed 4 times a year, with the start of each season, to acknowledge the changing world around us. It usually takes about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete.
The 108 salutation practice is named Mala, representing the 108 mala beads (prayer beads). There are many reasons for the Hindu and Buddhist belief in the sacredness of the number 108.
- There were initially 54 sounds in the Sanskrit alphabet: 2 X 54 = 108
- There are 108 Upanishads, which are part of the oldest scriptural texts of Hinduism. They primarily focus on philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God.
- There are 108 names for Hindu deities.
- The distance between the earth and sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun, therefore, the number 108 is taken to represent the "distance" from the devotee to the divine.
- Some say there are 108 feelings: 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
Some people believe that doing 108 Sun Salutations is a way of breaking out of the darkness that accumulated from the long winter. It's a way of "spring cleaning," your body and your mind.
Fit's Tips: If you are interested in being a part of this incredible tradition, ask your local yoga studio if they are offering a special Spring Equinox class. Some studios do it today on March 21, and others have a special class to celebrate on the weekend. I speak from experience when I say that this was a powerful, not to mention physically challenging experience, one I will always remember.