Whether you’re new to yoga or have been practicing for a while, you probably have heard about people doing 108 Salutations and your first thought probably was something along the lines of: WHAAAAAT? I mean doing a few Salutations is one thing (and not necessarily perceived as a good thing), but why go through 108?
Well for one thing, 108 is considered a sacred number in the world of yoga for quite a few reasons:
- The Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters, all of which have a masculine (Shiva) and a feminine (Shakti) side: 54×2=108.
- In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets: 12×9=108.
- The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
- The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
- There are 108 beads in a Japa Mala (the traditional necklace used to recite mantras)…
There are many other occurrences of the 108 number in Nature, and this is all nice and fine, but WHY PRACTICE 108???
Well, by saluting the Sun 108 times, we are recognising the spiritual connection within the physical practice, we are also sending a powerful energy out into the world.
In yogic tradition, 108 Salutations are performed on special occasions. It can be to honour past teachers or departed loved ones, it is also performed to mark a special occasion such as the end of a year, the birthday of a deity, an event that has had a strong impact on the community…
On a more personal level, performing 108 Salutations imply that you surrender to the process. You have no way of knowing what is going to happen, whether your body will accept the challenge or not, whether your mind will be able to remain still or not, how you will feel, what will come up. It is something quite powerful, but what seems like the most daunting (physical) may actually be the least important in the end. Like many other things in life, I guess you have to live it to truly understand why it is so special…