108 Yoga Sun Salutations: A Winter Solstice/New Year’s Celebration

Imagine the year 1000 A.D., the longest night of the year. War, famine, drought abound. Oops, I forgot plague. The Vikings are threatening Europe. The Crusades are soon to come. People are tired of cold and dark Winter. They come together around a massive bonfire to celebrate the return of the light, the changing of the seasons, and the cycles of life.

Now jump ahead to New Year’s Day, 2013. We have central heating, roads, cars and grocery stores. We have it easy. Or do we? 2012 has been a year of terrible drought and crop failure. We have been overwhelmed with political and economic instability. Twenty first century folks are sheltered from the elements, but we still experience being tired of the cold and the darkness. We desire to come together in community and acknowledge the longest night of the year and the return of light---the beginning of a new year and of a new cycle.

At Body & Soul K.C. in Kansas City, Missouri, located in the lovely neighborhood of Brookside, thirty some people gathered on January 1 of 2013 for a New Year’s day moving meditation experience. We did not have a bonfire but we generated our own internal fire by doing 108 Sun Salutations. That, by the way, is a lot of yoga sun salutes. One full sun salutation involves bringing the arms up on the inhale, bending forward on the exhale, lengthening the spine with an inhale, springing back to plank pose, then pulling through into up dog and back to down dog for 5 breaths. Yes, doing that 108 times is challenging for anyone. So we simplified and modified the process. Participants are encouraged to do only what they felt safe and comfortable doing. Some did the entire practice. Others did less. A few simply sat in meditation enjoying the atmosphere of the event.

Stretch your imagination just a bit more and feel into this moving meditation. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Breath in. Breath out. In. Out. Up. Down. Wheeeee! Now we are moving into the flow--the zone. After approximately 45 minutes of moving meditation we come to the floor to rest in Shavasana( quiet guided meditation). We are asked to recall scenes, feelings and events from the past year. Then we are invited to open our minds to creating desires and intentions for the coming year. Finally we are invited to write about what came up in meditation-- our thoughts and intentions for the coming year. This card will arrive in the mail around Christmas time next year. It will make a most interesting Christmas card.

We have been celebrating winter solstice/New Year’s at Body & Soul of Kansas City like this for the past 15 years. I find it to be a beautiful, focused and powerful way to honor the shared experience of living on the earth and being part of the seasons. Here are what some participants say about “108 Sun Salutations: A Moving Meditation and New Year’s Celebration”.

“108 Sun Salutations takes time. In that time the body is energized by the rhythm of the practice. The heart is nourished by the people who have gathered. The mind has enough time to clear” Rahimah

“I had a very blissful feeling afterwards. it felt good to be doing it with all those people.”

“The movement heated my body so I felt more limber and energized. Moving like this in sync with other people really felt good. I try to come every year. I put it on my calendar. It is a great way to celebrate a new year. Karen