We recently became friends with Ithaca, NY-based Vinyasa yoga teacher, Melissa Weiner, who has over 14 years of yoga experience, which she delved into after running injuries forced her to find alternate methods of treatment. A consummate athlete, she is also a USA Track and Field Level I coach and has received certifications in Spinning, Red Cross and Bigger Faster Stronger.
Here she shares some of her thoughts on a very special ‘Summer Solstice’ class she taught last week.


Today is the summer solstice, a time to celebrate the longest day of the year and the shortest night. I like to think of it as the turning point of the year where it slowly begins to grow darker. We should savor the longest day and the energy of the sun by being outside and taking in the energy of the sun. I was very fortunate today to teach two yoga classes outside in the grass. My first class was a Power Vinyasa class at Cass Park in Ithaca and my second was 108 sun salutes at the Plantations at Cornell University. I wore my MPG outfit to both classes, keeping me stylish and comfortable for three hours of teaching.

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People often ask why 108 sun salutes and why on the solstice. People have worshipped the sun for years. The summer solstice is a great time to reflect and reconnect with yourself and your breath with a moving meditation. It truly is a turning point of the year, as the days grow darker. Here are some of the reasons we chose to do 108 sun salutes at the Plantations:


What better way to celebrate a community of friends and family in a circle with yoga and a moving meditation? Being part of a community is one of the reasons I love teaching yoga. I even had a ten year old help me keep count of the 108 sun salutes.


There are 108 beads in a Mala Prayer necklace and the number is supposed to be sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. As a math person the number 108 is sacred to me (I look at the number 8 and think of the infinity symbol and of endless possibilities in our choices in life).


I have run 16 marathons and two ultra marathons. This is the ultimate marathon of yoga. It’s mind over matter, as you move through the 108 sun salutes. Just like a marathon, you truly have to dig deep within yourself through the last thirty. You find the comfort in the discomfort and move on. When you finish it feels like you crossed the finish line in Central Park and there is a great sense of accomplishment and pride.


Instead of sitting and meditating, we are taking our asana practice into a moving meditation. Just like a long run, we get into a flow and keep moving. The rhythm is felt as we link our movements to our breath. We get out of our heads and mind chatter and into our bodies. You can relax and give in to the sun salutes.


I break down the 108 salutes into 9 sets of twelve. I have each set be an offering. For example the first set was offering our focus to something in our life or for someone who needs it. Another was offering love, while another was prayer for someone who needs it. I changed it up each set.


What better way to unite with nature then to feel your feet on the grass, hear the birds, and the bumblebees and practice yoga outside. I love being able to reach my palms toward the sky and salute the sun. It makes me feel grateful to be alive and receive energy from the sun and the earth, and those around me.

I kept count with bracelets and pennies. I broke the 108 salutes into 9 sets of 12. I had nine Satya bracelets and 12 pennies. Each time I forward folded I moved a penny from one side of the mat to the other. After I did 12 salutes, which was one complete set, I moved a bracelet to my other wrist. Each set I had students offer something different up such as love for someone that needs it. We paused with our hands at our heart in and closed our eyes, reconnected and reflected to ourselves using our breath.

Did you do 108 sun salutes on the solstice? Are there reasons you did it? Who did you do it with and where? How did you feel after? Would you do it again? Please let us know in the comments!

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