Significance of 108 in yoga

Most Yoga  students, at some point along their yoga Journey, have done 108 Sun Salutations or done their Japa Meditation using mala beads and wondered why the number 108 is used

The number 108 has a huge significance in yoga and Vedic history. There are 108 Upanishads and some say that i you want knowledge you should read the first Upanishads. whereas if you want Moksha liberation then you need to read all 108 Upanishads. The number 108 is said to be the number that represents the universe and our whole existence and perfect totality, so it makes sense that in order to achieve liberation and fully understand your existence you will have to study 108 texts to get you there.

The Sanskrit alphabet has 541etters in it and each letter has a masculine and a feminine Shiva and Sanskrit  if you multiply 54 by 2 you get 108 so it can be said that the Sanskrit alphabet has 108 letters in total.

The significance of the number 108 features not just in an intellectual sense but also presents itself in the physical sense, in the body. In Ayurveda, the science or knowledge of life, we have what is known as marma points along the body. Marmas control the basic, essential functions in the body. Marma points are anatomical points along the body where bones, joints veins etc. meet up and they are the centres of energy control. They are considered points of concentrated prana. There are 107 Marma points in the body and each point has its own intelligence and conscious- ness. There are 107 marma points along the  body and they are chained together to form 108 links. The mind is considered the 108th marma point

The mama points turn the wheels of the 7 chakras and as they do so reflect their energies. The chakras are energy held which are located at dif- ferent points along the spine. There are said to be 108 energy lines running through the 7 Chakras in the body and they converge at the heart chakra. One line connects us to Sushumna and the crown chakra, where we become enlightened and achieve self-realisation.

Still working with the body; it is believed that if you can take just 108 breaths in a day you will be able to achieve enlightenment. As the average person takes about 12,000 breaths a day, you will need to undertake a strong Pranayama practice to work on increasing the length of your inhales and exhales in order to achieve enlightenment and that magic number of just 108 breaths a day

The 108 Sun Salutation that we do occasionally whilst being challenging and bringing the suns energy into our bodies also remind us of more interesting facts about the number 108. The number 108 connects the sun, moon and earth.

yoga is a practice of the sun (ha) and the moon (tha) and so represents both the opposing forces of masculine and feminine energies and also the dualism of this balance between the two. It is there- fore very significant that this balance between the two is also focused and based around the number 108. The distance between the earth and the sun is approximately 108 times the sun’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times the earth’s diameter. And the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter So the practice of Hatha Yoga is greatly influenced by the number 108, where so much significance is given to the sun and the moon and to the balance of the earth and the celestial realm.

This beautifully demonstrates that the microcosm which is us, perfectly mirrors the macrocosm, the solar system We could say that there are 108 steps between the ordinary human awareness and the divine light, at the centre of olr being When we practice yoga we are deeply interconnected with all of nature Using a mala is a more Symbolic way of connecting ourselves with the cosmic cycles governing our universe.

In Vedic astrology there are 12 zodiac signs and 9 planets, and 12 times 9 is 108 so we come back to the number of all existence. Each planet and each sign play an important part in our lives and come into play at various different times throughout the year and have an impact on hoW we think and how we feel.

The mala beads represent the ecliptic, the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into 27 equal sections called nakshatras. he nakshatras are one of the oldest references we have to astrology from the Rig Veda dating back about 5.000 years ago written by the great seers and sages of India, The nakshatras are like the zodiacal signs but more specific. Their meanings are derivec from the constellations, fixed stars and the mythology behind these portions in the sky They are rich in meaning and have ruling deities that reveal the stories that brng to life the symbology referred to in our own lives.

Each nakshatra is divided into four equal sectors called padas, making the 108 steps that the sun and moon like through heaven. Each is associated with a particular blessing force, with which you align yourself as you turn the mala beads

Each time we chant another mantra as our mala beads slip through our fingers, we are taking another step toward our own inner sun. As you use the mala and do your Japa meditation you are chanting each mantra 108 times, this is to represent your material self-moving to– wards higher self realisation and eventually enlightenment. This  means Our soul has to make a journey through 108 Stages to achieve moksha, this happens by chanting. By chanting you start a symbolic journey from the physical body to the esoteric body When you use mala beads there are normally 108 beads on the chain. Occasionally you might use a bracelet which might have 27 or 54 beads on it; the important thing here is that whichever you use, they must all add up to the number 9 as the number 108 itself does. The number 9 1S seen as a mystic number and is said to represent wholeness. The number 108 is a multiple of 9. All multiples of 9 added together ulti- mately become number 9 which 1s what make thee number 9 so unique and what makes any multiple of 9. especially the number 108 so special.

There are 18 books in the Mahabharata, one of the two most impo– rtant texts of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. If you add up all the words in the 18 books, there are 1.8 million words in total The 18 parvas or books, define in detail the career of man on earth. The 18 chapters in the Bhagavad Gita make yoga philosophy complete. The 18- day war makes the warriors exploits complete. There are 18 divisions of the armies of the contending parties, Pandavas and Kauravas with one having 7 and the other 11 division. Thus in total there were 18 armies. The Mahabha can therefore be seen to be an exposition of the human possibilities and achieveme– nts graded into 18, the first multiple of 9. This makes it even more pertinent to study these great texts, if you are to gain a better under- standing of yoga and through this the importance and meaning of the symbolism of numbers.

The mystical number 9 came to be so called due to following. The universe constituted of the three factors: time, space and causation. The universe is constituted of the three Gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas. The universe is constituted of the three functions creation, preservation and destruction This 3 x3 making 9, has made 9 the mystical number that is now so revered in yoga The number 9 exhausts the definition of the phenomenal universe

From this, one can say that the number 9 is just like water; it can take any shape as any number added to it always gives us the same number Just as water can take any shape or form and adapt. and change, so can the number 9, which is the ultimate end number. This is Moksha; it can take any shape or form and is the ultimate goal of all yogis. As the Bhagavad Gita tells us: T am the taste in the water ne rays of the sun and moon and  the Sweet fragrance  of the earth, the brilliance of  fire the life in all being .

Next time you do your 108 Sun Salutations or use your mala beads, be conscious of the reasons for doing them and strive to realize that is one, that all is connected and that we are all one.




JULIA  is a yoga teacher and Aromatherapist , For

detail on her retreats and Aromatherapy products, visit

                                 WRITTEN BY

                                 JULIA WHITE

JULIA is a yoga teacher and Aromatherapist,

for retreats o her retreats and aromatherapy products, visit

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