If you are interested in yoga, you must have heard of or be interested in "108 Sun Salutations". 108 rounds of traditional Surya Namaskar is an intense workout that sounds daunting for the first time. However, at the same time, it is a very satisfying and transforming experience that you have to try once.
108 Sun Salutation can be considered aerobic exercise if you can synchronize your breath with postures and follow a fast pace. However, when you're ready to add variations to your meditation session, slowly trying them is also a good option.
The sequence of nine basic poses that are involved in the 108 sun salutations is similar to the basic sequence of the sun salutations. In some poses, the duration, modification, and variation can be chosen to create a simple and interesting process.
The meaning of the sun salutation is well known and a very effective sequence in itself. So what is the need to practice it 108 times and why only 108 times? Well, the meaning of 108 Surya Namaskar has many values hidden within it.
Why 108 sun greetings?
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Hindu religion and yogic traditions regard 108 as a sacred number in various contexts. The sun salutation itself is practiced as a sacred yoga practice and, when repeated 108 times in a row, increases its spiritual and physical meaning.
Yogis make the most of 108 sun salutations as the number 108 in yogic terms signifies spiritual perfection. The cosmic interpretation is also associated with this numeral which connects the earth to the moon and the sun.
108 is the number of the many values
To understand the meaning of 108 in different cultures, religions, and traditions, let's look at its source of origin.
In religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, the 108 is viewed as a digit that defines wholeness. Other supporting facts that make 108 a sacred number according to yogic traditions are:
- According to Ayurveda, the human body has 108 sacred points, also known as marmas.
- In numerology, 108 is called the Harshad number (Joy-Giver number). The sum of the digits of 108 equals 9 and 108 is divisible by 9. Symbolically, it stands for universal love, eternity and awakening.
- The total number of scriptures such as Tantras and Upanishads is also 108.
- From an astronomical point of view, 108 is important because the distance between the sun and earth is approximately 108 times the diameter of the sun.
- The number of mala beads is also 108, which is counted by the practitioner during meditation, which makes it spiritually important.
In addition to these yogic facts, 108 sun salutation is a special practice that has a lot to offer internally and externally:
- It increases the energetic levels of the body
- Develops the connectedness and basic emotions within the practitioner
- It supports the detoxification process
- Facilitates the flow of prana
- Offers psychological and spiritual benefits.
- Pent-up emotions are released when practicing 108 sun salutations.
- It increases physical and mental stamina and strength.
When are 108 sun salutations practiced?
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108 is a great number to practice the sun salutation sequence all in a row that can cause chills down your spine. However, yogis and other practitioners perform the 108 Round Sun Salutations on major occasions or life events.
Old practitioners performed 108 rounds of sun salutations during the time that marks the change of seasons. This includes the winter and summer solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes.
1. The equinox of spring and autumn
Spring and fall are the seasons when new beginnings and productivity are welcomed. Equinox also divides 24 hours per day into two sets of 12 hours each for day and night.
This is the perfect time to practice 108 sun salutations with 12 yoga postures, each synchronized with the active inhalation and exhalation. Thus, it is known for cleaning blood and improving ventilation of the lungs.
Hence, it serves the purpose of refreshing and regenerating the effects of the body, as practiced at the time, marking new beginnings.
2. Summer and winter solstice
Another great time to practice 108 sun salutations is at the beginning of the summer and winter solstices.
Summer marks the heyday of the earth due to the maximum influx of sunlight. It is also a period that signifies effective healing.
The winter solstice, on the other hand, means the rebirth of the sun after surviving the long dark hours. In many cultures it is the time of festivals and rituals.
However, one can practice 108 sun salutations anywhere and at any time. In general, it takes 50 minutes to 2 hours to complete 108 rounds of sun salutations, although it is totally worth it. The morning time is particularly recommended to practice 108 sun salutations. However, it is also acceptable to practice them in the evenings.
How to do 108 sun salutations
Warm up your body with simple stretches before jumping into the sun salutation river. To warm up, twist your neck left and right while rolling your shoulder up and down with synchronized breathing. You can also do cat-to-cow stretching for spinal movement. Do 3 rounds of each exercise, then stand over your mat.
108 sun salutations can be practiced by dividing them into 5 rounds. 10 salutations are added in each series.
First round – 10 greetings
Slow down the first 10 sun salutations. As soon as the body has increased the pace and built up endurance, you can accelerate the further laps.
- Stand in front of the mat with your feet hip-width apart. Put your hands in Anjali Mudra, take a deep breath and chant OM. Breathe like this three times.
- (Start with inhaling, hands up → exhale, bending over → inhale, right leg back → hold breath, left leg back → come in plank position → exhale, knee chest chin down → inhale, lift head in cobra → exhale, dog down (hold breath for 5 counts) → inhale, right leg forward → exhale, left leg forward → inhale, hands up and exhale, palms in Namaste) * 10 greetings
Second round – 20 greetings
When you have completed the first 10 forms of addressing, aim for the next 20 forms of addressing in the second round. Here you can speed up the sequence, which completes each cycle in 34 seconds. Set up a timer that will count for 34 seconds this lap.
To quicken your pace for each cycle of 108 sun salutations, you can use the modified version of the poses in additional rounds. For example, inhaling in the cobra pose can be substituted for the sphinx pose or the baby cobra, and bending back in the pose with arms raised can be substituted for by extending the hands upward.
This modified sequence would look like this;
(Start with a deep breath, stretch your hands upward (don't arch your back) → Exhale, bend your knees and fold forward → Inhale, right leg back → Hold your breath, left Leg back → exhale, knee chest chin down → inhale, lift head in baby cobra → exhale, dog down → inhale, step right leg forward → exhale, left leg forward → inhale, stretch hands up and exhale, palms in Namaste) * 20 greetings
This way, speed up your pace a little more consecutive laps.
- By doing third round aim for 30 greetings. Set a timer here that counts for 31 seconds and completes a cycle of the sun salutation during this period.
- By doing fourth round, aim for 40 salutations, complete a lap in 26 seconds.
- And finally in the fifth roundthe last 8 salutations would be made. Here, take 24 seconds to complete each cycle.
In this way; 108 sun salutations are completed in just five rounds – 10 + 20 + 30 + 40 + 8.
If it runs without interruptions, it takes (10 * 40 + 20 * 34 + 30 * 31 + 40 * 26 + 8 * 24) 3242 seconds, i.e. 54 minutes to complete 108 sun salutations.
- Set up a timer – To count each round of the sun salutations, you can set up a timer that counts separately for each round at a different pace. For example, set up a timer that counts 40 seconds to complete 12 sun salutation poses on the first round. From the second lap, the pace will automatically accelerate to complete a cycle in 31 seconds and so on.
- Inhale and exhale, count out loud – To keep your poses on track, count out loud – "Breathe in and out" every time you jump from one pose to the next. If counting out loud is not an option for you, mentally stick to the count.
- Pay attention to body parts – In each lap, pay attention to the specific body for that specific number of salutations to ensure better focus one after the other. In the first lap, for example, it is comparatively easy to observe the movements of your body. Feel the expansion and contraction movement as you inhale and exhale.
- Wait and watch if you've missed the flow – If you are holding 108 sun salutations in group and some poses in between are overlooked, stay in the missed position and wait for others to reach your missed position. Then join the flow.
- Odd count and even count – to remember which leg would go back first in step 4 and come forward in step 9 (Ashwa Sanchalanasana); in the odd counts of sun salutations (1,3,5,7 …) it would right leg and in even counts (2,4,6,8 …), that would be it left leg.
- Rest if necessary – If you experience dizziness or fatigue between the river, you can substitute the step of dog holding down from the child's pose to rest a few breaths.
If 108 sun salutations are still a daunting practice then it will do for a factor of 108 such as 27, 36 and 54 rounds too. These factors are also considered beneficial as it is the Harshad (Joy-Giver) number.
Also, one can follow a video like this one for counting 108 surya namaskar cycles.
Source: Yogalates With Rashmi
Relaxing poses after 108 sun salutations
- Gomukhasana (cow face pose) – – With the sun salutation the arms are lengthened, stretched and carry the body weight. During Gomukhasana the shoulders are opened and the range of motion of the shoulder joints is improved. Thus it is a relaxing posture for the arms after 108 sun salutation.
- Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) – Vajrasana is practiced to relax the legs by directing blood flow to the lower body. It relieves strain on the knees, spine and neck. Therefore, Vajrasana also serves as a relaxing posture.
- Natrajasana (dancer) – – It stretches the hips, lower back, abdomen, and neck muscles. These parts of the body are busy during the 108 Sun Salutation, so Natrajasana is an excellent pose to relax in after this exercise.
- Pavanamuktasana (wind relieving pose) – It is performed in the supine position and brings the knees to the chest. Then the back is rolled on the floor and the back muscles are massaged.
- Yoga nidra – – 108 Sun Salutation increases body temperature and to relax after exercising it is important to bring body temperature back to normal. Yoga Nidra allows time to focus on different parts of the body and cools the body down
108 benefits for sun salutations
1. Improves the strength of the body
Sun salutation is a series of 12 postures that include intense stretches that lubricate most of the joints, spine, and other muscles. It improves the flexibility of the muscles and the external strength of the body.
2. Bring mindfulness
If 108 sun salutations are practiced in a row, this leads to repetitions. Because of the repeated sequence, it improves mental health and lets the practitioner be in the moment. Hence, it brings mindfulness.
3. Burns fat
It serves as an intense workout that is useful for burning calories. Hence, this practice is also useful for breaking down extra fat and leaving a firming effect on the practitioner.
It has been proven that one round of sun salutations burns approximately 13.9 calories. Therefore, practicing 108 sun salutations regularly is helpful in losing 1 pound every two days.
4. Brings self-acceptance
108 Sun Salutation is intense workout and it takes time for the human body to adapt to such a large number of laps. This allows you to recognize your limits and your potential. Hence, it develops a sense of self-acceptance within the practitioner.
5. Increases the thought process
The sun salutation is a challenging task, and its initiation is encouraging. It promotes motivation and strengthens self-confidence. If you take steps towards this practice, the practitioner can leave the level of comfort. This improves the thinking process and changes the practitioner's perspective.
108 Sun Salutation FAQs
It's pretty obvious to have doubts before stepping into the Sun's greeting alongside all the determination and commitments. This is a very personal experience for any practitioner, yet there are some questions that all seem to be common to all.
Here is a list of frequently asked 108 sun salutations questions to help clear and clear the basic doubts.
1. Are 108 sun salutations commonplace?
No, it is not necessary to practice 108 rounds of sun salutation every day. You can practice it whenever you want for your convenience and convenience, or you can also follow the pattern of ancient yogis to try it out on special occasions.
2. How can one count 108 sun salutations to be on the right path?
Better to practice with a partner to count it out loud or you can just break it up into sentences as mentioned above. Divide it into 12 sets of 9 rounds each or 9 sets of 12 rounds.
3. Is it normal to take a break between rounds, or do 108 sun salutations have to be held in a row?
As with any yoga practice, 108 sun salutations must also be performed taking body limits into account. It's okay to feel exhausted between rounds, and there's always room for breaks if your body demands it.
4. How can I resume the practice after a break during the 108 Sun Salutation?
To continue, reach the down dog pose and take a few moments there and then continue according to the rest of the sequence. If you are practicing with a group of people, you can hold down the dog position until everyone else is in that position and then move on to them.
5. How long does it take until the 108 sun salutations including the pauses in between are over?
108 sun salutations can last up to an hour. Beginners can find this practice time consuming, especially when compared to normal sun salutations. However, this is not true as the down dog is not held for breaths and generally follows a fast pace. Therefore, one can easily complete the 108 sun salutations including the 8 breaks in about an hour.
6. Can someone practice 108 sun salutation?
Yes, if a practitioner is able to give regular sun salutations on a regular basis, 108 sun salutations will be a breeze for them too. Plus the satisfying effects it leaves make it a worthy exercise no matter how daunting it sounds at first.
With this 108 sun salutation practice, attain the complete level of wellbeing and satisfaction that you have longed for.
Try 108 sun salutations out of your comfort zone and find your all-time exercise to calm yourself down in it. Also, unleash your potential to improve your overall health on an energetic, mental and physical level.