We have a tradition at YiY to celebrate the change of season with a 2 hour morning gathering where we do 108 Sun Salutations accompanied by chanting.
The Sun Salutations are modeled on the Ashtanga Vinyasa salutes of 9 breaths each. Each breath is linked to a line in the chant.
This event takes place on the days of the equinoxes and the solstices. It is followed by a light and nutritious breakfast provided by the studio.
We’ve been doing this since 2002 and it’s always a wonderful way to welcome the new season.
Please note that we encourage you not to overdo it, and as soon as you’ve done enough salutes you can just rest and/or chant.
“The notion of a salutation to the sun is to pay your respects and surrender to the universe. This can be taken as a metaphor to let go physically – the mind follows as you move ‘inside’ the practice.”
It is often said that Surya Namaskar contains the entire practice within it. But what does that mean? If you examine which postures make up the sun salutations, you get a wide range of movements: forward bend, back bend, being still, lengthening the spine, grounding the feet, strengthening the upper body, stretching the hamstrings, expanding the lungs and more. That is why Surya Namaskar is the ideal way to warm the body at the beginning of a yoga practice. Even if you do not intend to practice yoga, the sun salutation is a great way to start the day, as it also works on the mind. By hearing the breath, holding the gaze (dristi), these movements allow us to center ourselves and to quiet our wandering mind.
The sun salutation is one of the most effective way to learn about the vinyasa, binding the breath to the movement. Every movement has a breath associated with it, an inhale when going up, and exhale when going down or constricting the lungs. Sometimes it takes years to be able to fully breathe through every movement of Surya Namaskar, but it is well worth it. Doing the Sun Salutations regularly will transform your yoga practice, your outlook on life and yourself.
These pictures of the Sun Salutation come from the excellent John Scott book
Surya Namaskar Links
The AYRI site has a 3D animation of an Ashtanga style full sun salutation.
Why do 108 Sun Salutations?
At YiY we have a tradition of doing 108 sun salutations four times a year at the change of the seasons. The salutations are usually accompanied by chanting (see below). These are many reasons for the Hindu and Buddhist belief in the sacredness of the number 108. Originally there were 54 sounds in the Sanskrit alphabet. Double 54 and you get 108, which is also the number of beads in the mala (meditation prayer beads). There are 108 Upanishads, the sacred Vedic texts. 108 is also 9 times 12, two propitious numbers in Indian culture.
Chant to accompany Surya Namaskar
Om Hram Mitraaya Namah Salutations to Mitra, the bestower of universal friendship
Om Hrim Ravaye Namah Salutations to Ravi, the bestower of radiance
Om Hrum Suryaaya Namah Salutations to Surya, the dispeller of darkness
Om Hraim Bhaanave Namah Salutations to Bhaanu, the shining principle
Om Hraum Khagaaya Namah Salutations to Khaga, the all-pervading
Om Hraha Pushne Namah Salutations to Pushan, the mystic fire
Om Hram Hiranyagarbhaaya Namah Salutations to Hiranyagarbha, the golden colored one (who brings healing)
Om Hrim Marichaye Namah Salutations to Marichi, the light
Om Hrum Aadityaya Namah Salutations to Aaditya (an aspect of Vishnu)
Om Hraim Savitre Namah Salutations to Savita (Savitri) the impeller
Om Hraum Arkaaya Namah Salutations to Arka, the remover of afflictions
Om Hraha Bhaaskaraaya Namah Salutations to Bhaskara, the cosmic brilliance
Courtesy of Connie Habash