Why We Practice: 108 Sun SalutesDecember 20, 2017
Did you know that around the world, yogis from every walk of life come together on the Winter Solstice to practice 108 Sun Salutations together?
The tradition of flowing through 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar is typically observed 4 times a year, in conjunction with the changing of the seasons on each solstice and equinox. Each new season brings with it an opportunity to reflect back upon the previous season, and to set new intentions for the season to come.
As we move into winter and look toward the arrival of the New Year, the Winter Solstice presents us with a chance to create ourselves and our lives anew; to flow into the new season with a fresh new outlook and perspective on who we’re being and what we’re up to in our lives. Through the physical practice of 108 Sun Salutations, we have the opportunity to set these renewed intentions into motion – 108 times in a row!
But why the number “108”?
Why not, say… 18? Or 8?? 108 sure seems like an unnecessarily daunting number of Surya Namaskar to practice repeatedly in a row…
Before we dive into all of the amazing and surprising reasons why the number “108” is revered and held special in cultures and disciplines as diverse as religion, science, mathematics, martial arts, ayurveda, and yoga across the globe, let’s take a moment of pause for some real talk here.
In truth, when it comes right down to it, the renewed intentions and elevated ways of being we seek to create when we step onto our yoga mats are nothing more than words – until we put them into action. You may have heard the phrase, “Don’t talk the talk; Walk the walk”; This holds true, especially in the practice of transformation.
By doubting your doubts, setting aside your expectations, facing your fears, and stepping on your yoga mat to flow through 108 rounds of sweaty, stretchy, challenging, meditative Surya Namaskar with breath and focus, you are taking 108 opportunities to come up against your old ways of being, and choose growth instead. 108 opportunities to come up against doubt and fear, and choose growth instead. 108 opportunities to drop to your knees, catch your breath, and choose to get back up and flow forward, again… and again… and again.
That’s transformation in action.
It’s often said that we create our own reality. Let your words, thoughts, and actions align together to propel you forward into the life you’ve always imagined living.
And now, here are some fun & interesting facts about the number 108…
- There are 108 beads in a mala; These beads are used for counting while repeating a mantra, prayer, or chant – 108 times.
- In Astronomy, the diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. Also, the average distance between the Sun and the Earth is 108 times the Sun’s diameter. And what’s more, the average distance from the Moon to the Earth is 108 times the Moon’s diameter.
- In Hinduism, the number 108 holds particular significance; There are 108 Upanishads (spiritual texts), 108 sacred sites throughout India (Pithas), 108 sacred sites on the body (Marma Points), and 108 names for Hindu deities.
- In Mathematics, the number 108 is a Harshad Number, which means it’s divisible by the sum of it’s digits. The word Harshad in Sanskrit means “Great Joy”.
- There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, with two sets each – a masculine (Shiva), and feminine (Shakti) – making 108 in total.
- In Islam, the number 108 is used to refer to God.
- There are said to be 108 energy lines in the body that converge and meet at the Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra).
- The numbers 1 + 0 + 8 also have their own significance; It’s been said that “1” represents God or Higher Truth; “0” represents emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice; and “8” represents infinity or eternity.
- In Buddhism, a Buddha is carved 108 times into a walnut to signify good luck; a bell is rung 108 times to celebrate a new year; and there are said to be 108 virtues to cultivate, and 108 defilements to avoid.
- In Aerospace History, the first manned space flight lasted 108 minutes.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the fascinating history and traditions behind practicing 108 Sun Salutes at the start of every Solstice or Equinox, and look forward to flowing with you this Thursday, December 21st, 2017 at our Winter Solstice 108 Intention Flow!! Join us and flow with renewed intention into the season and New Year ahead!
Colure is a mostly-vegan yoga teacher, mom, wife, graphic designer, self-proclaimed nerd, and proud Co-Founder of Five Peaks Power Yoga. When she’s not at the studio teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found relaxing in her favorite local coffee shop, or adventuring around the greater DC region with her family.