The meaning and benefits of 108 Sun Salutations

This Sunday I am hosting a practice of 108 Sun Salutations. This is a really empowering and transformative experience with ancient roots. Read on to find out all about this sacred practice...

Why 108?

In Yoga philosophy 108 is a sacred number which Mathematicians from the Vedic tradition came to view as the number representing the wholeness of existence.

For example...

  • There are 27 Lunar Constellations over 4 elements and 4 directions (27 x 4 = 108)

  • 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet with a male/female side (=108)

  • Stonehedge is 108 feet in diameter

  • All Mala beads have 108 beads.

  • There are 108 energy lines which converge to form the heart chakra

  • There are 108 sacred sites known as pithas, throughout India.

  • There are 108 Upanishads (a collection of Indian religious and philosophical texts from as early as 800 BCE)

  • The ratio of the diameter of the sun to the earth= 108

  • The ratio of the earth to the moon= 108

  • According to Ayurveda and Chinese medicine there are 108 sacred (marma) points in the body

  • The words of the Buddha are recorded in the Tibetan Kangyur in 108 volumes.

  • A bell is chimed 108 times in Buddhist temples in Japan to finish the old year and welcome the new one.

  • Placing significance on the number 108 reminds us of our place in the cosmic order of things

  • Oh...and there's 108 cards in an Uno deck ;-)

There are 108 beads on a Mala

In Yogic tradition, something is often repeated 108 times as a sacred spiritual practice. For example to commemorate a special occasion or the beginning/ending of a journey.

So when you practice 108 Sun Salutations you may choose to dedicate this experience to a particular purpose that is personal to you.

The meaning of the Sun Salutations

'Surya Namaskar' means to 'bow to the sun' and is traditionally practiced at sunrise facing the sun to bring in and give thanks for the energy of 'Prana' (which in Sanskrit means 'life force.')

'Prana' is what gives vitality to every living thing and is what connects us all. By honouring and connecting with this life giving energy we bring ourselves back to presence and connection.

Tip: When you practice Surya Namaskar you may want to be outside facing the sun, or just position yourself facing a window so you can be aware of the beautiful energy that you receive from the sun.

"Keep your face towards the Sun and the shadows will fall behind you"- Walt Whitman

What you may experience

  • This practice is an incredible experience in 'Svadyaha' (Self Study.) You may experience boredom, irritation, discomfort, frustration or even elation but your one task is to stay present and non attached. 

  • If you experience any physical discomfort first check in if it's coming from the mind's attachment or from the body. If you are practicing with poor alignment this will definitely show up during the 108 rounds so definitely check in with this first, but otherwise if any discomfort continues, feel free to modify or to take a rest. In Yoga we always must remember Ahimsa meaning 'first do no harm.'

  • This practice becomes very rhythmic and can be very hypnotic and meditative. This allows us to get out of our busy mind and become deeply rooted in presence. Take each moment as it comes and observe without attachment what comes up for you.

  • The full Surya Namaskar sequence has all the components of a full Yoga practice in it (backbend, forward bend, inversion, pranayama, meditation.) By repeating this sequence 108 times you will liberate your spine, revitalise your body and clear your mind.

After the practice:

  • This practice liberates stagnant energy but can bring up a lot of deeply buried stuff so give yourself time to process the deep cleansing that has occurred.

  • After this practice take some time in silence to contemplate, meditate or perhaps journal.

  • Don't be attached to whether your experience was 'good' or 'bad' simply observe and let this experience teach you about yourself.

I hope that this information helps and that you get to experience this incredible practice for yourself one day.

If you would like to find out more or join my free online event this Sunday the 27th September 2020 at 9am, please email

Check out this beautiful video from last year's sunrise practice of 108 Sun Salutations

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