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Significance of 108 Sun Salutations – DO

in 365Yoga, YD News

We made it through 2011 and 108! Happy 2012!

Last year we regaled you with the sweaty tale of our first New Years Day 108 Sun Salutations, and, oh yes, it was sweaty. This year we rang in 2012 with yet another one hundred eight rounds of saluting ye old sun, but this time there was a shift. 2012’s sweatiness was less about the bodily challenge of doing over a hundred cycles of what we normally do 5-10 times a practice, and was more about the process. *cue gong*

As with anything, the first time has the thrill of newness, the excitement and anticipation that comes with well, the first time. No longer a 108 Surya Namavirgin, having a reference point the second time around allowed for a deeper experience, where the question evolved from “can I survive this?” to “what can I do with this?”


Yes, as in, “I’m here, I know I can accomplish this physically whether I finish or not,” but what else can we learn and take with us from this otherwise perceived insane undertaking? How can we take this experience and make a difference great or small, in ourselves, our thoughts, our words and our actions? Note 1: Now just because we’re asking the question doesn’t mean we’ll always get answers right away, but it doesn’t hurt to query. In fact, it’s all about the query.

Whether or not you’ve got blisters on your toes from 108 Salutes (note 2: they hurt just as much the second time!), as we kick off another #365yoga days we invite you to join us in leaving behind the doubts of can I? and embrace the power of I’m already doing it, what now?

If 2011 was the year of the protestor we declare 2012 the year of the Doer.

If you’re of the curious ‘why 108?’ crowd, there are few reasons:

  • 108 beads on a mala. The number holds significance (as does 9: 8+1=9) in the Hindu tradition.
  • Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
  • Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
  • Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.
  • Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • Sun and Earth: The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • Moon and Earth: The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.

More 108 fun facts here and here.

Also, a few more little known facts:

  • 108 seconds is the time it takes for a yogi to scan the room and decide who the ‘hotties’ are.
  • Yogis should wash their mats after 108 uses, at least. ew.
  • It takes 108 tries to even start to understand the mechanics of bakasana.



8 comments… add one
  • Love this post. bookmarking for the next time I teach 108!

  • Great post! Please allow me to offer my own ruminations on ‘doing’ and ‘being’ in the New Year…

    “I’ve always begun the New Year with writing down my resolutions. I love the glow of optimism around the vision of my improved self going boldly into the New Year. But this year I’m not going to do it. I’ve become suspicious of the whole self improvement thing. After all, isn’t it a habitual way of living in expectation of the future, without fully living in the now?

    I admit I’m not sure of the alternative. The ‘tomorrow I’ll better’ ethos, has sustained me through decades. Resolutions propel me past the year’s failures, past the sirens of recriminations, ever onward. The carrot of becoming better, wiser, kinder and thinner keeps me buoyant and motivated.

    After all, this is what life is all about – right? Time marches forward. We progress, we get smarter. Things evolve – or do not. Change is constant. This relentless evolutionary progression is all headed (whether by accident or design) somewhere bigger and better.

    But it has not always been so. Many scholars believe that the ancient Hebrew peoples were responsible for the momentous, history changing idea of progress. By breaking out of the previous view of time as cyclical, of moving in repeating patterns, history now had a beginning – and an end.

    This idea of the time has so thoroughly saturated western culture that we take it as a given, a marker of reality itself. Time progresses and takes all of us with it, each microbe, blade of grass, animal, the planet, even the cosmos.

    The ancient yogis didn’t view time as a linear progression. According to the great Indian religions such as Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism among others, the process of creation moves in cycles and is never ending; it “begins to end and ends to begin again”. The past, the present and the future coexist simultaneously. Time (Sanskrit ‘kal’) ceases to exist in the Absolute.

    In the yogic tradition, non-linear or ‘sacred time’ is connected with humanity’s deepest spiritual dimension.Yogi’s sought to become aware of this timeless and sacred dimension and sought to liberate themselves from the the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, known as the wheel life.

    Remarkably, the yogi’s conception of time sounds similar to what quantum physicists today describe as the true nature of time.
    While time appears to have a direction – the past lies behind, fixed and immutable, while the future lies ahead, it is not necessarily fixed. Time proceeds both forward and in reverse. At the sub-atomic substrata of reality itself, there is no beginning or end, just the infinite now.

    What this all means, I’m still trying to figure out. But it leaves me wanting to approach the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions with caution. Is it time for planning the future or living in the now? I want to think twice about what I wish for.

    The challenge is to let go of the resolutions, expectations and goals I’ve used to hang my optimism on. Benchmarks designed to signal that I’m finally getting somewhere – or not. But what I’m having a hard time letting go of is the idea that all this striving to be better has a purpose. That it’s all going somewhere.

    By always wanting more am I not buying into the idea that what I am right now, is never enough? Am I not failing to fully give thanks or rejoice in what I have at this moment, whether it is the love of family, the wealth of friendship, a body capable of granting mobility and pleasure, food on the table, the beautiful world outside the door, the trees, the stars, the ocean, and the sky?

    he problem with this is the ending. What happens when the story closes? For some reason, whether we see it as the Big Crunch, The Rapture or 2012, we see ending as a conflagration, an apocalypse, a judgment. Will we finally measure up?

    Meanwhile, it seems our never satisfied need to achieve and accumulate ever more, has led to a kind of consumptive frenzy. It has garnered us a polluted world in which the rich get ever richer and human rights erode in the game of capitalistic progress.

    Well, yes. That why this year I’ve resolved I’m not going to resolve to be better, kinder, thinner, richer, whatever. I’m simply going to make an intention to follow the ancient yogi’s advice– and be here NOW.”

  • Deva Premal says that the 108 beads of the mala correspond to 108 major energy paths of the body. Chanting a mantra 108 times allows it to resonate through all the chakras and energy paths of the bodymind.

  • garuda

    108 stitches on a baseball

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