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The number 108 in Yoga

A Mala by JapaMalaBeads

In just over 2 weeks (11th and 12th February 2017) I will be leading my first ever Sun Salutations Mala ( 108 salutes to the sun , or surya namaskaras) click here for details of the event.

A mala is that string of 108 beads that you often see around the neck of yogis and yoginis around the world. Very similar to a rosary the malas are used to keep count of silent mantra repetitions ( Japa).

The mala also has a Meru bead, which is a larger bead, not part of the 108. This is the guiding bead, the one that marks the beginning and end of the mala. Traditionally this bead is never crossed. On completion of one round of mala, you change direction for the next round.

In yoga it is traditional to perform 108 sun salutations during a solstice .This practice takes stamina, discipline and determination to complete and it teaches you a lot especially about yourself, the edges of your body AND your mind.

The number 108 recurs time and time again in yoga , Hinduism,Buddhism, Chinese medicine, as well as in the Judo-Christian and Islamic traditions . It is obviously a special number!

I have listed below a few interesting facts that highlight the peculiarity of this number.

In astronomy: The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. ( I have not verified this fact but please feel free to comment if you know it to be a metropolitan legend)

In Ayurveda: there are 108 ‘Marma’ points that are vital for giving life to living beings. These are similar to acupuncture points.

In Tantra: it is estimated that every day we breathe 21,600 times out of which 10,800 are solar energy and 10, 800 are lunar energy. Multiplying 108 X 100 is 10,800.

In the Sanskrit language: there are 54 letters in Sanskrit each can be mentioned as masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) aspect, totalling to 108.

In classic Vedic literature: there are 108 Puranas and 108 Upanishads.

In numerology: 9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108. 1, 0, and 8: Some say that 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

In mathematics: Powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2×2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108 108 is a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits (Harshad is from Sanskrit, and means “great joy”)

In Indian folklore: There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals. There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell. There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance. Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.

In chemistry: the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.

All these facts serve as a reminder that to perform something ( anything) for 108 times in a row is pretty special practice which ought to be performed as a celebration or marking something special.

My special occasion is dedicated to Unicef and their Syria appeal . Come along and take part to this challenge, or donate if you can on :

Thank you for reading ..


Marzia x

( adapted from a post on :


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