There is something special and heart-warming about the yoga community — indeed, much of the general population. As soon as news reached of the terrible disastrous earthquake in Nepal, so many yoga students and teachers wondered what they could do to help the awful suffering of those survivors who had lost everything. Classes and fund-raising events were instantly organised to show solidarity and support, as well as raise awareness and crucially aid to help the poor Nepalese people rebuild their shattered homes and lives. It will take ages and ongoing aid not just a few small events, we know.
For our part, myself and other London teachers have organised a 108 sun salutations challenge at the end of the month. (Details below.) On hearing about it, one of my students who has just had a serious operation, immediately asked if she could join the event, desperate to help. 108 sun salutations can be very challenging for the regular fit student.... so why choose to do 108 sun salutations?
108 Surya Namaskaras are often performed as a mark of respect (as following the death of Shri K Pattabhi Jois, who established ashtanga yoga), and at summer and winter solstices, and equinoxes – when the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of night and day are the same. Here, it is a charity event, the aim is solidarity but also to raise funds through sponsors and donations.
So why 108? It's not just a random number picked to challenge students to make them hot and thirsty and uncomfortable so they feel sympathy with those less fortunate. (Though it is always worth remembering those you are raising funds for when you reach 81 and feel tempted to give up... )
108 is traditionally a sacred number — in yogic, Hindu and Buddhist cultures at least. There are 108 beads on Mala (or garland) beads used for meditation and prayer. But there are so many beautiful coincidences connected with the number 108. Like the 9 times table where the individual digits of any multiple of nine always add up to nine... The sun's diameter is roughly 108 times the diameter of Earth. While the average distance from Earth to the Moon (about 384,400 km) is again roughly 108 times the diameter of the Moon.....
And 108 is 9 times 12.... both numbers are said to have a spiritual significance in some traditions — number 9 is the number of Universal love. So we will have 12 teachers each leading 9 sun salutations. This should make for a harmonious event — and vary the styles of the sun salutations to make it more achievable. Let's hope we can also help lessen the burden of the Nepalese people in some small way through our efforts too.
Join us as we flow through 108 sun salutations at the Kensington Unitarians Church Notting Hill on 31st May at 2pm. Please register via the facebook events page — https://www.facebook.com/events/1591484301141004/
or contact me on the contacts page on this site.
Donations in support of the work of the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) to aid Nepal.
** Bring your own mat.