As we approach the autumn equinox, many yoga enthusiasts are preparing to participate in 108 Sun Salutations.
This will be my first year participating, and I’m learning about it in preparation. There are 12 sun salutations. During the event, the sun salutations will be performed 108 times. The number 108 is considered to be sacred. It’s the number of Hindu prayer beads, and there are a number of other religious and even mathematical reasons for the choosing of this particular number. This ritual is often performed at each change of seasons and can take up to two hours to complete.
I’ve been taking yoga classes on and off for the last 14 years. I began with a college class and then dabbled in my mid-20s. I’ve not been as consistent as I would like, but this year I’ve returned to my love for yoga. Now I attend a class a week and do yoga at home when I find the time. I still consider myself at an intermediate level, although I find myself each class going further than I ever could have imagined.
As I prepare for my first time participating in 108 Sun Salutations, I’ve thought a lot about what yoga has meant to me. I feel like I’ve been reaching inside to find my inner badass, my inner warrior goddess if you will, with every class that I take. I find myself becoming more, stretching both outward and inward and finding my truth. It’s a physical challenge, but it’s also deeply spiritual for me.
Yoga can help us stretch beyond the limits we’ve placed on ourselves.
My experience of yoga is that it is both light and truth. It is both balance and strength. It is our every breath, and it helps us stay centered. It can be a challenge which reveals that the limits we’ve placed on ourselves are simply imagined. We keep exceeding our own expectations. We can try a challenging pose that we’ve never before attempted and experience this rush of power that we are capable of maintaining our balance and stretching our bodies in new ways.
Suddenly, we are badass warrior goddesses, capable of anything that we set our mind to do.
In my very first yoga class, the instructor told me to visualize a particular pose that was currently beyond my capabilities. She said that if I would just visualize being able to do it, I would soon find my body exceeding my expectations. And she was right! After a few weeks of attempting a pose that felt impossible but imagining that I might be able to do it, my body complied. It was amazing and exhilarating! It occurred to me that perhaps I had put mental limits on myself in many other ways. What if it was possible to do anything that I truly wanted?
Yoga can also help us stay centered during the week.
Taking a yoga class even once a week can help us to stay centered. There’s just something about an hour spent doing yoga that helps us find balance, and during the week, we can recall a particular moment in the class and return ourselves to center. We can bring awareness to our breath in times of stress and even stay conscious of something as simple as our posture when we’re sitting at our desks working.
Yoga can help us find our strength and help us uncover other ways of connecting with our most authentic selves through creative expression.
We can all find that strength, that inner warrior. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding the thing that we truly connect with, that allows us to be challenged and changed just by doing it. For some, it may be hiking and communing with nature. Others might find it through art or music or participating in a sport. Many find it in dance. It just so happens that I find my strength in yoga, in writing and in connecting with my most authentic self.
What is important is not how we find that core strength in ourselves but that we find it at all.
We each have these unplumbed depths inside ourselves, and sometimes it takes struggle for us to dig down and find our courage to explore that aspect of ourselves. For me, a career change and the end of my marriage sent me on the journey that directed me to my deeper and higher self. And even though my career change was successful and my divorce has been final for many months, I’m still evolving, still seeking out that authentic core of raw strength and beauty. I am transformed again and again with each challenge I encounter along the way, and yoga helps me stretch beyond what I thought I could do to be more. I face challenges with an equanimity that I don’t think I would have without my practice.
I’ve found my strength inside of my yoga practice, and I’ve extended it out by continuing to challenge myself. To face fears. To be truly raw and authentic. To speak my truth even when, especially when, it’s difficult and others may not agree.
Yoga can reveal our strengths and remind us of our resilience.
In yoga, there are poses that I love and poses that I hate, but all of them strengthen me. All push me beyond what I thought I was capable of and show me that I’m capable of anything. When we connect with something (whether that something is yoga or art or nature or hiking or swimming or dance), we learn so much about ourselves. We learn that there is so much more beneath the surface of our daily lives, and oftentimes we can find our courage in knowing that we are both capable and resilient. Not just our bodies, but our minds and spirits.
Yoga can bring us personal empowerment.
We each experience personal empowerment in different ways, and we each are given different challenges to face to find our hidden reserves of strength. I’m heading into the autumn equinox this year and the 108 Sun Salutations with eagerness to discover what participating in this event might uncover for me.
I’m looking forward to continuing to find my balance, center and peace inside each pose, each breath.
Our practice can help us create change in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Yoga isn’t about physical fitness or flexibility or even our breath. Yoga becomes the way we allow it to change us. It’s a way to open up ourselves, to become more mindful of our inner lives and in turn to use that mindfulness to change the way we interact with others. By finding our center and our strength, we can approach others in our lives from a place of peace and balance. We learn to act from our truth rather than reacting to the chaos in the world around us. By deeply connecting with our breath and our bodies and challenging ourselves to go beyond, we truly do embody our deepest strengths and discover our personal power, which too often we’ve given away to our circumstances or to other people.
I long to connect again and again with that inner warrior goddess. I long to embody that power, that strength and that beautiful peace. To connect with my own resilience and to touch my own spirit. To discover my inner badass, my inner warrior goddess. To honor her in me. And in doing so, to reach out in a spirit of love and gratitude to the universe for my practice. And to allow the strength of that practice to ripple out and empower those around me.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Renée Picard