Winter Solstice 108 Sun Salutations 2019
Time & Location
About The Event
Join us for our second annual Winter Solstice celebration. It's officially solstice at 3.54am, but I figure nobody will be keen to drag themselves out of bed at that time of the morning. So we'll practice at 9.30am.
This time also coincides with Matariki, the Maori New Year. Matariki is the Maori name for a group of seven stars known as the Pleiades star cluster. Some people think of Matariki as a mother star with six daughters, and it is often referred to as the Seven Sisters. It is officially celebrated on 25th June this year.
Now, let's get down to talking about the physical practice ….
When we gradually transition from autumn toward winter we will notice the leaves have left the trees, the temperature is dropping, and the amount of sunlight we receive diminishes each day. We are so lucky in our beautiful country, however, to experience four different seasons each year. As much as we enjoy the summer sun, winter is the opportunity to snuggle down, restore and rejuvenate. Assuming we are lucky enough to have a sunny day on the 22nd, the Yoga Room will be bathed in sunlight as we practice.
We celebrate the Winter Solstice, practicing the traditional 108 Sun Salutations, to honour the sun – Earth’s primary source of energy and light. A Sun Salutation, called Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, is a bowing to the sun.
A Sun Salutation is a set sequence of poses that flow rhythmically from one to the next, with each movement linked to our breath. The sequence we practice contains nine poses, which when multiplied by 12, equals that auspicious number, 108.
Some Sun Salutation sequences involve twelve movements to honour each of the twelve months, as well as the twenty-four hours in the day that we live our life around. A classical Surya Namaskar A includes 9 postures, the sum total of 1+0+8. The practice of 108 Surya Namaskars can be both meditative and invigorating.
The asana (poses) we will be practicing for Sun Salutation A are:
- Extended Mountain Pose (arms overhead)
- Forward Fold
- Halfway Lift
- Caturanga Dandasana (high to low plank)
- Cobra (or upward facing dog)
- Downward Facing Dog
- Step or jump forward to Halfway Lift
- Forward Fold
- Samasthitihi (Equal Standing Pose, hands at heart)
Take a look at last year's event video.
Theories abound, with many of them based in mythology. The number 108 is considered a sacred number that is found in throughout the natural world. The most common use of 108 is on mala or prayer beads. In Sanskrit, there are 108 letters: 54 honouring Shiva, the masculine energy, and 54 for Shakti, the feminine energy. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun. The distance between the Earth and the Moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon. According to traditional Chinese medicine there are 108 pressure points on the body, and the Tantric system believes 108 energy channels converge at the heart chakra. In Vedic astrology there are 12 houses and 9 planets which multiply to equal 108. The numbers themselves are considered to have meaning: 1 represents universal consciousness or higher truth, 0 represents emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 represents infinity or eternity.
From my perspective, this is a traditional practice that simply gives us the opportunity to practice together as one. Last year's celebration was an amazing example of our community practicing together. You could hear everyone BREATHHHHHE!
Start preparing now! See if you can work up to 20, then 40 rounds of Sun Salutations. Don't worry if 108 rounds seems out of reach. There will be opportunities to rest throughout, so don't worry about it being too much for you.
Every morning, as I get out of bed, I have to force myself to practice. Sound familiar? So I tell myself, I'll just do five minutes. Five minutes is better than nothing, right? Invariably, I keep going …. because it feels so good. Have a go. See what your experience is.
I will give you a list of modifications to use, as well as a sheet that depicts each pose for you to refer to during practice. Let me know if you'd like a copy in advance. And here's a video that might help.
Just being part of this event, witnessing yogis practicing together, breathing in unison, will be a special experience.
If you're not physically able to practice, but would like to attend, I'm really going to need a helper! My husband will be golfing with my brother and cousins, so I'll need someone to boil the kettle, take people's sharing plates when they arrive, and maybe take some photos. Any offers?
Pot Luck Brunch
I can pretty much guarantee you'll feel a bit peckish after we practice. So please bring a small plate to share. I'll provide hot drinks and a big tureen of vege soup and homemade bread. It's not often that we get the opportunity to learn more about our fellow practitioners, so please do consider staying on afterwards to get to know each other a bit better.
Need to Know
For those of you who regularly practice with Our Yoga Kapiti, this event is FREE. If you would like to bring a friend, it will cost them $10 plus a plate.
Apart from training for the event by building up the number of Sun Salutations you can practice (aim for 40), you will receive a reminder email from me three days before the event with information about parking, a reminder to hydrate well the day before etc.
Each participant will have a printout depicting each pose in front of them. We will practice in silence (except for our united breath), so you will be able to refer to the sheet in front of you if you get lost at any stage.
I will be using counters to record the number of rounds. For the first nine rounds we will ‘flow’, linking our breath to our movements. Every 9th round, we will pause for five breaths in Downward Facing Dog. I will be practicing too, and rather than verbally cue each pose, I will simply let you know when it is time to take those five breaths. Having said that, if you need to stop at any time, then stop! Rest in Child’s Pose or Downward Facing Dog until you are ready to rejoin the group.
Use modifications! For example, Knees down in High to Low Plank | Cobra instead of Upward Facing Dog | Transition through Table Top to Downward Facing Dog | Child’s Pose instead of Downward Facing Dog | Step Forward (alternating first leg) instead of Jump Forward | Knees bent in Forward Fold.
Please bring a hand towel and a water bottle (not glass) with you.
Shoes off at the door (please store in the cubby next to the door that leads to the bathroom), along with spectacles if you're not going to wear them during practice. Phones off (not just on silent).
Mats are provided, but you're welcome to bring your own.
As this is a special event, I would like to have some photos taken. Rest assured, the camera won't be pointed at anyone’s face! Please let me know if you have any issue with that and I will avoid your direction.
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year – a moment to be marked by both celebration and reflection.
Join us to commemorate this special time. All levels welcome.