On September 23, 2012, yogis all over the world are going to unroll their mats and join in a worldwide experiment started by the amazing Shiva Rea: The Global Mala for Peace Project. The purpose of the Global Mala Yoga for Peace is to unite the global yoga community from every continent, school or approach to form a "mala around the earth" through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108.
What does this mean for most yogis? It is the chance to join in on a challenging and exhilarating karmic marathon: 108 Sun Salutations. My commitment to join in on the flow at New Jersey’s Yoga Festival By the Sea (where yogis salute the sun to the sound of live music and crashing waves on the Asbury Park Boardwalk) got me thinking-why do we salute the Sun?
Talk to ten yogis and you may get ten different answers to that question. With that in mind, here are my top ten reasons to salute the Sun:
1. The Sun is represents the physical and spiritual heart of the world. We salute the Sun to give thanks for a new day filled with life-giving light and sustenance.
2. The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, can be a complete practice; the poses lengthen and strengthen, flex and extend many of the main muscles of the body while distributing the prana flow throughout the system.
3. The sequence awakens the energy of the Inner Sun that lays dormant in our navel center. It warms the body and cultivates inner fire.
4. It’s a basic staple in the yogic world. Period.
5. Sun Salutations quicken the blood while calming the mind.
6. Sun Salutations “bestow upon us the good fortune of having only good thoughts, of hearing and speaking only good words, and of attaining a sound and strong body, so that we may have a long life and, one day, achieve oneness with God.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
7. The Sun represents the Third Eye center in the human physiology and, with time, Sun Salutations can energize, activate and ultimately balance the seven chakras.
8. Sun Salutations serve as meditation in movement, reducing depression, anxiety and stress while building mental focus, concentration and deep breathing.
9. Sun Salutations link movement with breath – vinyasa. We experience how the extension of the spine relates to the pranic pattern of the inhale and how the exhalation’s apanic movement correlates to the folding and deepening into a posture.
10. Every Sun Salutation allows us to experience devotion. We stand at attention, open ourselves up to energy, bow with respect and experience humility.
All that being said, what is probably the number one reason for performing 108 Sun Salutations? Because it is pretty awesome.