To ring in the new year I attended a 108 sun-salutation yoga class. I had been third on the waiting list so didn't expect to attend, but upon a last-minute check I discovered I had indeed been registered. There was no way to arrive on time by that point, but I decided I should embrace the opportunity and quickly changed into my yoga clothes and ran out the door. The class description had intrigued me:
"108 Sun Salutations [TRUTH - VOID - INFINITY]. Let’s start 2023 with purpose! Moving our bodies through a sun salutation 108 times is a strong physical and meditative practice that gives us the opportunity to connect and align ourselves with the energy we want to cultivate in our lives. Why 108? In Yogic tradition, repeating an action 108 times has deep spiritual significance."
Our teacher had thoughtfully organized the class into 9 segments of 12 sun salutations with a brief pause between each segment. We were given a different mantra and body part on which it was suggested we focus as we flowed through each set of sun salutations. There is something truly beautiful about flowing though the same motions, breath for breath, with a room full of people focused on the same mantra.
"I am Love."
"I am Peace."
"I am Strong."
"I am Good Enough."
With every breath, every jump forward, jump back, and more though, you start believing. Believing that you really are love, peace, strong, good enough. Good enough just as you are, not because of how many complete chaturunga dandasanas you can do as part of the practice. Good enough just as you are, just for showing up, just for being you.
Maybe it was the heat, maybe delirium brought on by a 16-hour dry fast coupled with the physicality of the practice, or maybe, as I chose to believe, it was the amazing energy of the room. What at the outset seemed like an impossible task faded away. Before I realized it, we were on the final set of sun salutations, floating through with a mixture of surprise and delight, carried on each others breath to the bliss of our sweet shavasana where our teacher read one of my favorite
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (excerpt from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles")
And in that, I found my word for the year. LIBERATE.