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To the Sun, with Love

When I tell people that I do 108 sun salutations each Sunday, their eyes widen with awe. They think it requires Olympic stamina. Really it’s only a matter of gratitude.A sun salutation is a series of yoga postures. Its Sanskrit name, surya namaskar, stems from surya, “sun,” and namas, “to bow to” or “to adore.” Yoga practitioners in India have been bowing to the sun for at least a century, and possibly as long as 2,500 years. Since the number 108 is considered extremely auspicious, many celebrate equinoxes and other special occasions with 108 sun salutations.I first attempted the practice under the guidance of my teacher, Myra Lewin. I was entranced as she intoned Vande gurunam, the Sanskrit chant honoring the lineage of yoga teachers. Then the movements started―an eternity of them.Sweaty, dizzy, and dehydrated, I completed around 60 my first time. I can’t be sure, because I couldn’t count―or think at all, beyond wanting to quit. The second time, my teacher suggested that I approach the practice as an act of devotion. Who does not adore the sun? So, with each upward movement of my arms, I thanked the su …

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