If you're just here for the meditation, scroll down. :)
Today is Summer Solstice — the longest day and shortest night of the year. Different cultures have varying beliefs and traditions surrounding this day. Swedes hang greenery to bring good fortune and traditionally celebrate by dancing around a maypole. (We did this last year.) Some people in France celebrate with a bonfire, a pagan ritual. At least that's what Google told me. Yogis celebrate by doing 108 sun salutations and meditating.
108 sun salutations?
I've read about this tradition but never did it. I was either busy or scared or both. But I did it this year, joining some other yogis at Radiant Yoga. And I'd do it again.
Back up ... what's a sun salutation?
There are actually different kinds of suns salutations. Sun salutation, or Surya Namasakar in Sanskrit, means "salute the sun." A sun salutation is a set sequence, which varies depending on which kind — Surya Namasakar A, B and C. My yoga teacher demonstrates these sequences in the video below.
So why 108?
108 is a sacred number in many cultures. There are 108 beads on a mala necklace, so when you meditate with a mantra, you recite the mantra 108 times, counting using the mala beads.
There are also 108 pithas (sacred sites) throughout India and 108 marma points (sacred places) of the body.
Those are the yoga reasons, but there's also some crazy math stuff. I'm not a numbers person, but the Internet told me that the average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Vedic mathematicians saw 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence for this reason.
And because my husband is a former baseball player/coach, I have to mention that there are 108 stitches in a baseball.
Anyway, there are even more reasons 108 is a special number. But this is a blog post, not a book, so I just shared the ones that resonate with me. I don't know that 108 was a magic number for me, but what I loved was the repetition. At a certain point, you stop focusing on "what's next" in the sequence and it becomes a truly meditative experience as that yoga glow takes over.
You don't have to do 108.
In fact, if you're new to yoga I wouldn't recommend it. It is physically demanding. To celebrate the longest day of the year, as a new yogi, I would recommend doing 5-6 rounds of sun salutation A combined with the meditation included in this post.
Here's sun salutation A. I jumped forward and back, but that's more advanced. If you're starting out, please step forward and back. And you can always replace the downward facing dog with a child's pose.
Honor your body. Honor your mind. Honor your truth. Every. Single. Day. Once we release the lies we clutch onto, living our truth can come with ease. And all the other pieces just seem to fall into place, because all is as it should be.Posted by Balance in the 'Burbs on Thursday, April 30, 2015
Summer Solstice Meditation
This meditation is centered around the third chakra, called Manipura. This is located around the navel. It houses your personal power and is associated with energy, self-esteem and willpower. If you're joining us at the I Am Power retreat (which you totally should!), we'll be working with this chakra to deeply connect to your personal power.
The third chakra's element is fire; light. A balanced Manipura can help you feel powerful, strong and able to meet new challenges. Not enough energy in the third chakra can lead to low self-esteem, low energy and a feeling of helplessness. Too much energy, vise versa, can lead to an inflated ego.
Let's work with this chakra. We're 6 months into the year and you have more hours today than any other day. Let's work with our personal power to gain confidence, welcome new challenges and embrace transformation.
First, have a seat. Preferably outside. You can sit in a comfortable cross-legged position or on a meditation cushion, pillow or yoga block. Just get comfortable. Find length in your spine and reach the crown of your head toward the sun, creating space in the body.
Next, place your hands on your belly. Start to focus your energy on this spot. Let the belly rise as you inhale through the nose and fall as you exhale through the nose. Don't try to suck in; don't apologize for your belly. Let the belly feel powerful as it moves with your breath.
Feel the sun's light enter your body. Imagine that the sun is filling your entire body with light. What have you been hiding? What secrets are you holding onto? What do you need to let go of? Let the light fill every crevice of darkness and fill them with light. All is exposed, all is light.
Let your inner fire radiate. Imagine your belly is full of fire. It's warm glow is radiating throughout your body, joining the light from the sun. But this fire is even more powerful; because it is all yours. The fire burns brighter and brighter, creating heat and energy. It moves up your chest, through your heart and up through the crown of your head.
Sit and breathe with this feeling of brightness, fire and power. You can stay here for 2 minutes or 20 — you're in charge. Do what feels right.
To finish, gently open your eyes and return to your normal breath. In no rush at all, come to a standing position and continue your day.
Whenever you're feeling low energy or have an "I can't" attitude, remember this space you're in now. You can always return here. Just close your eyes and ignite your inner fire in your third chakra. You are powerful. You just have to let yourself be.
Happy Summer Solstice!
I Am Power Retreat
"... we are hoping to have each woman who attends this retreat walk away with a different presence in her body.
We want to change the dialogue about women and power. And we want to start by changing one woman at a time through a variety of modalities."
Learn more about the I Am Power retreat here.