Why I’m Starting off 2018 with 108 Sun Salutations

by Maria Villegas in Announcements, Events, Fitness

“Repetition is Beautiful” ~ Prince

I’ve fully accepted that I am not a person who is very good at routine. I don’t wake up at the same time
every day. I don’t eat the same breakfast. I don’t do the same workouts. I am neither a night owl nor an
early bird. I equally love the crack of dawn yoga and also staying out late drinking wine (preferably not
together, but it’s been known to happen). I regularly fall asleep on the couch watching a movie at 8 pm,
but it’s also not uncommon for me to get a surge of energy and reorganize my closets at midnight. I’ve
given up trying to figure out my own rhythms and patterns. I’ve dropped any attachment (generally) to
what version of myself shows up. I chalk it up to being flexible, and I like to think that this type of
personality serves me well. It makes for being an easy traveler, a simple house guest, and a natural
helper. I don’t “need” any creature comforts – I can make anything work most of the time. But one
noticeable drawback is an ever-present low-grade feeling of transience. I regularly have to shake the
feeling that I’m supposed to be somewhere else. I often think I am forgetting something when I’m really
not. I’m certain I was born with a chronic case of FOMO.

The practice of yoga is one place that I can count on finding my footing. My mat is a place for me to
shake loose the randomness, and to find the familiarity and comfort in the ritual of my practice. When I
teach, I start every class with a few rounds of some variation of Sun Salutation A. That’s my ritual in my
own personal practice, and something I share with students when I teach. There’s something about
paying homage to the permanence of the sun by forward folding and rising to stand to making our
way back to downward-facing dog that always feels like home to me. While Sun Salutations are a
sequence of movements, it actually feels like a location – a place to go. When I’m “in” a Sun Salutation, I
move slowly to find my breath, to feel out the nooks and cranny of the body, and to let go of whatever is
harboring in the surface of my thoughts. To simply pause and pay attention. The rounds of the simple
sequence of Sun Salutations serve as the bridge that takes me from daily life and into the space of yoga,
where I can shed habits that don’t serve me, forget about tasks that don’t matter and observe the
sensations of my body and mind. To put it simplest, Sun Salutations and the practice of yoga is where I
go to find clarity.

At my previous studio in Seattle, the studio owner and my forever teacher led a 108 Sun Salutations
practice, which was the first time I ever experienced it. A 108 Sun Salutations practice is exactly as it
sounds: it’s literally 108 rounds of Sun Salutations. That’s it. Nothing added, nothing subtracted (aside
from modifications). For regular yogis, there’s nothing “new” physically to learn. It’s the same shapes
and variations of the Sun Sal sequences practiced in a regular class, done in repetition and amongst your
community. All in all, it takes about 90 minutes to complete. It’s the foundational sequence of the asana
limb of yoga done over and over again – 108 times to be exact. Yes, it’s absolutely heat-building and
sweat-inducing (hello – 108 chaturangas!), but that’s not the point.

So, what is the point? Or a better question: why?

108 is not a random number. The number 108 has special significance in the ancient practice of yoga.
There are 108 Upanishads (ancient Sanskrit text). There are 108 marma points (gates) on the body. The
diameter of the Sun X 108 equals the distance between the Sun and the Earth, and the diameter of the
moon X 108 equals the distance between the moon and the earth. The tradition of completing 108 Sun Salutations is often practiced during times of transition or times of celebration. This practice is
commonly done during solstice, New Year’s, or birthdays. View it as the yogi’s version of a vision board.
The belief is that this practice provides an opportunity to set intentions or seek an intention through a
moving meditation. Through the repetition of these familiar movements, you’re better able to link
breath and movement, sink deeper into each posture, and slowly burn off the figurative waste the
prevents us from manifesting our desires. In this practice, you can get lost in the movement, in your
breath, and switch the focus from the physical practice and allow intention and self-observation to be at
the forefront. And if all else fails, it’s 90(ish) minutes of movement, music, breathing, sweating, and
laughing amongst the happiest yogis around.

The masterful artist Prince once said, “Repetition is beautiful.” If repetition was any part of his creative
genius, I want in. Let’s repeat, repeat, and repeat again to make space for our creativity and greatest
intentions to flow off the mat.


What better time than now to practice 108 Sun Salutations: commemorate another year on this planet, celebrate Flex & Flow’s 2nd anniversary, and recommit to your practice, your community, and yourself. Join Shannan, Katie, myself and the Flex & Flow community for all the 108 Sun Salutations fun on Saturday, January 6 at 11:30. This event is FREE! Grab your spot before it fills up!


See you on the mat, yogis!