Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why 108?

 This past weekend the Vernal Equinox passed (March 20th at 11:21pm for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Basically this refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator and the day and night are nearly equal in length.  In this part of the world this planetary alignment also means the first day of spring.  Hooray!  Let the daffodils and tulips begin!  This change in season can be celebrated in many ways.  In yogic circles, however, it is often celebrated with the practice of 108 sun salutations.  This moving meditation is a great way to welcome the new and bid farewell to the old. 

The number 108 has long been associated with yogic traditions.  Many yogis utilize this number (or some derivative of) for everyday practice or special observances. Whether it be 108 minutes of meditation, 108 rounds of mantra, or 108 sun salutations; this number holds a special significance.

The number 108’s actual meaning is open to interpretation. However, traditionally it has been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. There are also 108 Upanishads (sacred texts of Hindu religion) and 108 sacred places of the body.  Additionally, this number is used when creating malas. Malas are strings of 108 prayer beads.  These can then be used for counting as you repeat a mantra.
Yoga Journal contributor and yogini extraordinaire, Shiva Rhea, also notes that renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. This phenomena has given rise to many examples of ritual significance.

Although there are many interpretations of the meaning of 108, there is one factor that remains consistent.  This number unites yogis around the world as we celebrate the beauty of a powerful practice.


Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.


Laurie Hansen said...

Very nice, Kristin! When were you at the Grand Canyon? I may have caught a glimpse of you rafting as my family and I were there for Spring Break! :)
It is grand, indeed!

Thanks for sharing!


Kristin said...

Hi Laurie-

Thanks for your nice comment! I was in the canyon mid-January through mid-February. Beautiful! It sounds like you had an excellent time there as well. Truly a powerful place!


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