The number 108: Curiosity or coincidence?

When taking a deep-dive into this week’s theme of Sun Salutations (or Surya Namaskar in traditional Sanskrit), I was reminded of the mysteries of the number 108. 

The two are connected in yogic traditions where it is commonplace to practise 108 Salutes to the Sun at the change of seasons – especially during the transitions from Winter to Spring (Spring Equinox) and from Summer to Autumn (Autumn Equinox). You can, of course practise 108 Sun Salutations any time of the year for a physical and mental challenge to symbolise a personal reset.

Scroll to the bottom for more about Sun Salutations but, for now, let’s get back to our magical, mystical and rather curious 108! 

108 in the universe

Curiouser and curiouser

Since time immemorial, scientists, mystics and yogis have been intrigued by the number 108. Here are a few of my favourite facts about this celebrated number. Read on to decide whether these curiosities are merely a string of entertaining coincidences or whether the number 108 really has some mystical power and meaning.

Firstly, the diameter of the Sun, our closest star, is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. 

In fact, the number 108 appears in many mathematical calculations in relation to the Universe. 

For example, there are 12 zodiacs and 9 planets. 12 x 9 = 108. Coincidence? Maybe. But, maybe not! 

108 marma points in Ayuveda

108: It’s in our bones!

When it comes to the human body, the number 108 also makes a few pertinent appearances.

There are exactly 108 marma or pressure points in the human body according to the science of Ayurveda. 

And, be sure to keep the body warmer than 108 degrees Fahrenheit since when our internal temperature drops below this magic number our vital organs begin to shut down. Are you convinced yet?

108 mala beads

108 in yoga…

It is perhaps a coincidence that there are 108 Upanishads, the ancient yogic texts dating back to 800 BCE. 

The number 108 is important to those who practise japa meditation. This technique involves breathing or repeating a mantra whilst moving the fingers along a string of 108 beads known as a mala.

What’s more, there are 54 letters in Sanskrit where each letter in the alphabet has both a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) energy. Two times fifty-four equals – you guessed it – 108! 

108 in the universe

What’s the real deal?

Nobody really knows why 108 is deemed a sacred number. But, we do know that it appears throughout history crossing many different cultures. Furthermore, it continues to fascinate some of the most well-respected scientists and mathematicians of our time. 

In fact, the renowned mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci, is so convinced about the power of the number 108 that he believes it has a way of representing the wholeness of existence. Now, isn’t that curious?

What are your thoughts on 108? Mystical? Magical? Or just a host of coincidences? Let me know in the comments below!

Paula x

108 sun salutations

More on Sun Salutations

As mentioned above, there is a strong link between the number 108 and Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit). Sun Salutations are a series of flowing movements traditionally performed at the start of a Hatha yoga practice. There are a number of variations of Sun Salutations from the gentle Classic Surya Namaskar to the more vigorous Sun B – all of which we explore in this week’s YouTube class.

Practise with me!

Try this free Sun Salutations yoga class on YouTube!

Although we’re not doing 108 repetitions in this class, you’ll certainly shift some energy and – hopefully – notice how this repetitive movement pattern can become almost meditative in nature. Either use the class as an easy-to-follow tutorial or a stand-alone practice suitable for complete beginners.

Check out the on-demand library at Happy Yoga Wales for many more yoga classes and meditations.

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