I’ve only been practicing yoga for about 2 years and while I’m not the best (or strongest) yogi out there, I do enjoy it. It helps me stretch my body, grounds me, and, it helps me to cultivate energy.
So when the Yoga Mala popped up on New Year’s Day, I really wanted to do it!
A Yoga Mala is 108 sun salutations. The number 108 is a very sacred and significant number.
The number 108 appears in ancient yogic texts. There are also 108 Upanishads and 108 Tantras.
In Ayurveda, which like yoga, also started in India, there are 108 sacred points on the body.
In astronomy, the distance between the sun and the earth is roughly 108 times the sun’s diameter.
Mala necklaces have 108 beads, which are used to count in meditation and this is kind of the point of doing 108 sun salutations.
While usually practiced at the winter & summer solstice and the spring & fall equinox (as a way to honor the sun and change of seasons), it is now a common practice to do on January 1st.
The idea is to set intentions for the new year and to get (old) energy moving. Anyone who’s ever done just 2-3 sun salutations knows how much heat, and energy, you can build up.
Doing so many sun salutations really gets you into a state of flow.
You get to find your rhythm and let things – emotions, physical pain and thoughts, move through you instead of just cycling them over and over again.
For me, this was more of a celebration of how far I’ve come on my journey of self-care, health and alignment with my soul, ie getting back to my true self. :)
I felt lighter, strong, flexible (I mean, I should after 108), and energized.
I wouldn’t have been able to do this a year ago – or 5 years ago.
Pssst – It was also a huge help to do this on my non-toxic Manduka yoga mat.
Not only is there no smell when you bring your face to the mat, but it’s guaranteed for life. It’s also thicker than other mats, which provides great stability and support! It really made a difference!
Is this ritual for you?
It was immensely helpful to do it with a group of people in a class. By myself, I think it would have been easy to lose count or to stop half-way through.
Our instructor actually split up the 108 sun salutations into 9 rounds of 12. He also set an intention and played a different instrument for each round, which made the 108 a lot more meaningful… and fun!
While I might not practice this ancient ritual 4 more times this year, at least now I know what to expect, how my body will respond, and how to break it up in a way that is very do-able.
If this resonates with you on any level, then I encourage you to try it.
I first heard of doing more than 3-4 sun salutations when my yoga instructor told me he did 51 sun salutations on his birthday, which is also about new beginnings – your next personal journey around the sun!
Pssst - I was a little sore the next morning – mainly my hamstrings, but I used my herbal, non-toxic Po Sum On healing oil, (perfect for sore muscles!), and the tightness went away.