It’s that time of the year – the Summer Solstice has arrived, which means that, in the Northern Hemisphere, today will be the day the sun shines the longest and the night is the shortest. This is definitely a day worth celebrating after those long winter months. It’s no coincidence that International Yoga Day falls on the same day as the Summer Solstice every year – and there’s a reason why it’s celebrated with 108 sun Salutations.
A super short history lesson
Before we dive into how on earth you survive 108 Sun Salutations, here’s a quick history lesson on why it’s 108 specifically. According to DoYouYoga, this practice is actually linked to the Hindu belief that 108 is a sacred number. There are 108 sacred points on the body, 108 names for Hindu deities, and 108 sacred sites in India. The distance between the earth and the sun is also 108 times the earth’s diameter. Pretty cool, right? Now that you know why you have to do such an extensive amount of Sun Salutations, let’s get to the part where we give you some tips on how to make it through them all successfully and be able to walk and lift your arms above your head the next day.
1) Make sure you set a clear intention for yourself
Yes, ask yourself “what’s your why?” in true PB Resolution fashion. Why do you want to do 108 Sun Salutations? Answering that with “because everyone else is doing it” is not going to cut it. Why are you doing it? What do you want to get out of it? Once you have the answer to that, you have something to remind you why you started once the burn sets in.
2) Do it at your own pace
Don’t try to go fast. Move with your breath. Focus on your inhales and exhales and try to deepen them as you go along – and don’t engage in any sort of negative self-talk. You showed up to take on the challenge, that’s the most important part.
3) Modify as needed
This should be your mantra when it comes to all things yoga-related. Don’t force that Chaturanga or Updog. If you need to lower your knees for Chaturanga, do that. If you can only manage a Baby Cobra, go for it. You’re doing it, you showed up. You’re doing great. Modifying the poses doesn’t make it any less of a challenge, it just means that you’re listening to your body. Don’t allow your pride or ego to push you so hard that you end up hurting yourself. It’s never worth it.
4) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
It’s summer, which means that temperatures are higher, which means you’ll sweat more. You’ll need to drink more water than usual to keep your body hydrated. Keep a water bottle handy and make sure you take a sip regularly.
5) Take breaks
Yes, take breaks. No one said you had to do 108 Sun Salutations non-stop, although that is kind of the image that pops into your mind when you think about it. You’re not a machine – your body needs breaks, just like with any exercise. Take Child’s Pose whenever you feel tired or your breathing gets too heavy.
6) Revisit your intention
Those quiet moments in Child’s Pose are perfect for revisiting the intention you set for yourself. You can even use those periods of rest to dive deeper into that intention and figure out how you can apply it off your mat as well. Keep remembering the intentions you set for yourself while moving through the poses – this helps to keep your mind focused during those repetitive movements. You can even turn the intentions you set for yourself into mini-mantras and repeat them with each Salutation.
7) Wind down afterward
Sun Salutations are typically used as a warmup in yoga sequences, but doing 108 of them will leave you pretty tired, so it’s important to cool down. Stretch out those muscles and spend some time doing supine twists, deep hip stretches like Pigeon, and good old Happy Baby to end it all off on a happy and carefree note. Then spend some time in Savasana and applaud yourself for your efforts. You did it. You’re a freakin’ badass yogi. You can also use your time in Savasana to reflect on the intentions you set for yourself before you started and how they helped you to pull through.
8) Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it to 108
Even if you didn’t manage to do all 108 Sun Salutations, it doesn’t matter. Who’s counting anyway? You showed up, you tried, and yes, you conquered. Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of guts to set out to do 108 Chaturangas alone, not to mention all those Cobra/Updog poses and planks that make up the rest of the sequence. Even if you only did 30, or 20, or even just 10 – you did something. That’s all that matters. And if you don’t end up doing any Sun Salutations at all, don’t fret. There’s always next year, and 365 days between now and then to practice.
International Yoga Day is all about celebrating yoga and its wonderful benefits. Even if you just raise a glass of wine to the occasion, we’re proud of you. Whatever you do to celebrate, do it in true Bad Yogi fashion and don’t take the day, or yourself, too seriously. Namaste!
We’re curious – have you done 108 Sun Salutations for International Yoga Day before? How did you feel after? Tell us in the comments!