Happy Summer Solstice! It's the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere today, with approximately 17 hours of daylight. The word "solstice" comes from the Latin solstitium, which means "sun stands still". For centuries, people observed this this day as an opportunity to leave the dark and move into the light. Many yogis love to do 108 Sun Salutations to celebrate the solstice, considering it to be a reverent opportunity.
Why 108? There are a number of interpretations about the significance of 108 in yogic philosophy: our bodies have 108 marma, or vital energy, points; there are 108 Upanishads, or concepts, in ancient Hindu texts; and India has 108 sacred sites, known as pithas. If you use mala beads to meditate or recite mantra, there are 108 beads connected to a "guru bead". Science indicates that the average distance of Earth to the sun and moon is 108 times their respective diameters. So yogis love to gather together on the summer solstice for a yoga mala as a ritualistic way to observe life and use the shifting season to set new goals. Most people can complete 108 Sun Salutations in less than an hour, even with breaks, depending on the type of sequencing (a Sun Salutation can be 6-10 poses) and the breaths in each pose (which are shorter, since the poses aren't held for long). A yoga mala celebration might also be held on the equinoxes and the Winter Solstice. Your practice allows for freedom of exploration, so consider joining a yoga mala today, or picking a day this week to set clear intentions and move through 108 Sun Salutations in one session. If you need to take a break, slip into Child's Pose, and resume in Downward Dog. You might be surprised by the energy and clarity experienced in this session! (Image courtesy of the Omega Institute.)