Two years ago today, I was in India! We were about ten days into our yoga teacher training and our yoga teacher, the incomparable, always smiling Babu, suggested we attempt 108 sun salutations as a way of celebrating the summer solstice. As we were practicing classical suriya namaskar (in which one round is actually comprised of TWO salutes, one leading with a right leg lunge and the next with a left leg lunge), we only made it through 54 rounds. Technically, we DID complete 108 salutations, but at the time it felt like a failure to me. Even though, at the end of the 54 salutations, we were all sweaty, some were shaky, and some had given up alltogether.

It’s not about completing 108 Sun Salutations, I realized this winter as I sweated and trembled through 108 sets of suriya namaskar (A! I have yet to attempt classical!) on a yoga mat far, far away from India and my wonderful teacher. It’s not some kind of physical challenge, some kind of “Yoga Achievement – Unlocked!”. Seeing something through to completion is important, no question. But this exercise is about something more than that. It’s about devotion. It’s about surrender. It’s about finding humility. Bowing down one hundred and eight times, no matter what your personal beliefs are, you can’t help but get deep, man. What or who are you bowing to? Why are you on that mat? Why prostrate yourself one hundred and eight times?

Maybe it is just a physical challenge for some. For me, it’s become a crucial ritual in my personal yoga practice. It’s a chance twice a year to get humble, experience gratitude deeply, pray for peace, and set intentions for the next six months. One hundred and eight times.

Happy Solstice to one and all!