By: Jennifer Hughes
September is a time of resetting routines and easing our way into a new season. On the evening of the autumn solstice (September 23 at 6pm), the Dexter Wellness Center will host a special FREE yoga event that will not only help you prepare for Fall, it will also honor Hunger Action Month by helping Food Gatherers shore up its efforts as the colder months approach. The event consists of 108 sun salutations, a rhythmic and memorable way to engage and strengthen your body and mind.
What is a sun salutation?
A sun salutation is a flowing series of 12 yoga postures. (A regular yoga class typically includes two to seven sun salutations.) They’re a great way to build strength, improve cardiovascular health, and center your mind. A sun salutation is also called surya namaskar in Sanskrit (the ancient language of yoga). This short video shows the steps in detail.
Why do 108 of them?
The process of completing 108 Sun Salutations has its roots in ancient tradition, and is often performed on the occasion of the year’s natural pauses: the winter and summer solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and the New Year.
The number 108 carries significance for many different reasons across numerous cultures, in the fields of mathematics and astronomy, and in scripture. For example, there are 108 beads on an eastern mala or rosary, and the sun’s diameter is 108 times that of the Earth. Check out this article for a comprehensive explanation.
What will the event be like? Will it be difficult?
“Moving through the 108 sun salutations will open and energize your entire body,” says Dexter resident Megan Fink, the lead instructor and co-organizer of the event. Megan is a certified yoga teacher and has taught at the Dexter Wellness Center since it first opened in 2013.
“A class like this can seem challenging because of its length,” says Megan. “It takes about two and a half hours to complete all 108 sun salutations, but honoring your body is a very important principle in yoga — you move through the poses in your body’s own way, which may mean slowing your pace, drinking water, and resting as often as necessary.
“In my experience, when moving through a challenging practice, the mind is sometimes the first to fatigue. So this is a great opportunity to unite your mind and body with your breath. Think of it as a flowing meditation. It’s very grounding.”
Who should attend and what should they bring?
This is the first event of its kind in Dexter, and it’s open to all! There’s no charge, but the organizers welcome donations of nonperishable food, cash, or check made out to Food Gatherers of Washtenaw County. What a fabulous way to support your own well-being and support those around us in need! You should also bring a yoga mat and a water bottle.
Do I have to do all 108 sun salutations?
If you need a break, that’s okay! “We encourage anyone who’s interested to try it, even if you spend part of the time resting and observing,” adds Megan. And there will be plenty of gentle guidance on hand. In addition to Megan, a team of five other certified yoga instructors will assist with leading the flow and providing pose modifications.
What if I’ve never done yoga before?
If you’re intrigued but new to yoga, before attending the 108 Sun Salutations event, we encourage you to first try one of the many yoga classes offered at the Dexter Wellness Center. Non-members can purchase a one-day pass for $10, which includes access to group exercise classes for the entire day, plus use of the pools and other equipment in the facility. Or, if you’re a first-time visitor, take a tour of the Center and receive an information packet about other programs the Center offers. Call 734-580-2500 to schedule your tour.
How do I sign up for the 108 Sun Salutations event?
Please register for the 108 Sun Salutations by September 9 in order to assure your spot. Wellness Center members may register by phone (734-580-2500). Non-members, please kindly register in person at the Dexter Wellness Center (2810 Baker Road, behind the Dexter Pharmacy) so that you can complete a guest registration card. Non-members age 12-17 are also welcome if their parent accompanies them to the event.
We know that you’ll find the rhythmic practice of doing 108 sun salutations to be a powerful and inspiring experience, especially when done in a group. We hope that you’ll join us!
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