108 sun salutations to bring in the new year

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I always like to start the new year by thinking about what I would like to bring into my life, how I envision my future, and the kind of person I want to be. I decide on activities to do on the 1st of January that will bring me closer to my goals and help put me on the right track. That may sound like a tall order, but it just means I want to do things that I enjoy, make me feel fulfilled, and help me to grow as a person. So on Friday morning, to get the year started off right, my hubby and I will be completing 108 sun salutations for a charity event at a local yoga studio. Yes, you read that right, 108 (Eeeek! "I think I can...I think I can...") sun salutations. Why not just 10 you ask? I had that question and wanted to find out more about the number 108. I knew that malas (prayer beads) come as a string of 108, but never knew why that was. I decided to do some research and came to find many answers. The number can be found in so many places, not just in relation to yoga, which I found really interesting. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
  • In astrology, the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.
  • The chakras are the intersections of energy lines that start at the root of our body and travel to the crown of our head. There are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.
  • There are said to be 108 sacred sites throughout India.
  • There are also said to be 108 sacred places of the body.

Sun salutations are a great way to start the day because they are said to revitalize and energize you. Sun salutations are also, traditionally, a way to pay gratitude to the sun, and stimulate the part of the body connected to the sun (the solar plexus, right behind your belly button). It is believed that energy can become trapped in the solar plexus, and sun salutations help to unblock this energy thus stimulating creativity and intuition. Sun salutations can be practiced anytime, anywhere (though public places may get you some odd looks). You can practice these anywhere you have room for a yoga mat so no need to belong to a yoga studio. One thing we love about yoga is that you don't need any special equipment, you can literally do it in your living room in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, bare feet on the floor, breathing, stretching, and connecting with yourself.  

Ever practiced a sun salutation? If not, I have added a short guide and video (thank you to my incredible husband for demonstrating the sequence!) below showing postures practiced during one sun salutation. 

  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand up straight with feet together and arms straight down at your sides. 

  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale arms up overhead bringing your palms together.  

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhale folding forward at the hips bringing palms to your mat next to your feet and head toward your knees.  

  • Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)

Inhale lifting up halfway with a flat back coming up on to your fingertips or bring your hands to your shins.  

  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

    Exhale stepping or jumping back into a high plank and lower down into chaturanga with elbows bent ninety degrees at your sides.  

  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) or Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

    Inhale pushing your chest forward and extending your spine up into a backbend while flipping your feet over so the tops rest on your mat. Elbows should be bent and squeezed in with hips on the mat for cobra or you can straighten your arms and press your feet into the mat lifting your hips for upward dog. 

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

    Exhale pushing your hips up and back flipping your feet over so your soles are on the mat. Arms and legs should be straight with heels pressing back into the mat. Hands and feet should be about hips width apart and shoulders away from your ears. Stay here for five breaths. 

  • Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)

    On your last exhale from down dog step or jump forward bring feet together between your hands and inhale coming up to a half lift with flat back.  

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

    Exhale folding forward bring your head toward your knees.  

  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

    Inhale and lift up to standing with a flat back bringing arms up over head with palms together.

  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

    Exhale and lower arms back down to your sides.

So give sun salutations a try to get in some movement, pay homage to whatever you're grateful for, and unblock your creativity and intuition. Have a happy new year!