The autumn equinox celebrates the final sun cycle of the year. It marks a time of change (not only in focus, but also in direction). From the autumn equinox, literally, the nights start to grow longer and the days shorten. Symbolically, as the hours of daylight change, our awareness moves slowly inward.
In many mythologies, the stories of descent into the underworld are metaphors for the autumn equinox. The stories represent a move down and in to the dark. In esoteric traditions of both eastern and western belief systems, the underworld serves as a place for transformation—a place of flowing waters or furious fires, which are elements of intuition and creativity for the next cycle or year ahead. The autumn equinox, then, is a time to take inventory and turn inward. It is a time to reflect and to find balance. And it is a time of gratitude and thanksgiving.
Which asana (posture) best celebrates the autumn equinox? Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is one posture that expresses thanks and finds balance. It is an ancient technique that symbolizes gratitude to the sun, which is one source of all life forms on earth. The sun salutation also symbolizes an appreciation for what was and what will be. It is a devotional flow of past experiences and future opportunities that culminate in a surge of transformative energy, and is said to increase intuitive and creative abilities.
The completion of 108 sun salutations brings this energy and ability into balance. In yogic traditions, the number 108 represents the balance between masculine and feminine (Shiva and Shakti) as seen in the Sri Yantra, a sacred instrument. The practice of 108 sun salutations near the autumnal equinox can also be a celebration of the Durga Puja (a period of purification, but also gratitude for good fortune). Durga is a warrior goddess and is a symbol of the feminine power of reflection and intuition. Her powers of reflection and intuition are meant to restore and to balance the mind and body. The practice of 108 sun salutations as Durja Puja has similar benefits: clarity and focus, endurance and calmness, and strength and vitality.
Need a place to get your autumn equinox on?
Join Molly, Ace and Bekky for 108 Sun Salutations for Fall Equinox at Purple Yoga, Fullerton on Sunday, September 27 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.