If you are into yoga, ‘108 sun salutations’ is something that you must have heard of or are interested in. 108 rounds of traditional Surya Namaskar is an intense workout, it might sound daunting for the first time. However, at the same time, it is a highly satisfying and transformative experience that you must try once.
108 sun salutation can be seen as an aerobic workout if you can sync the breath with the postures and follow a fast pace. However, if you are willing to add variations to your meditative session, trying it at a slow pace is also a good option.
The sequence of nine basic poses involved in the 108 sun salutations is similar to the basic sun salutation sequence. In some poses, the duration, modification, and variation can be opted to make it an easy and interesting flow.
The meaning of sun salutation is very well known and it’s a very effective sequence in itself. So what’s the need of practicing it 108 times and why 108 times only. Well, the meaning of 108 Surya Namaskar has hidden many values in itself.
Why 108 Sun Salutations?
Hindu religion and yogic traditions consider 108 a sacred number in various contexts. Sun Salutation is itself practiced as a sacred yogic practice and when repeated 108 times in a row enhances its spiritual as well as physical significance.
Yogis make the most out of 108 Sun Salutation as in yogic terms, the number, 108 signifies spiritual completion. Cosmic interpretation is also linked with this digit which connects the Earth to the Moon and Sun.
108 is the number of Many Values
To understand the significance of 108 in various cultures, religions, and traditions, let’s dive into its source of origin.
In religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, the 108 is considered a digit that defines wholeness. Other supporting facts that makes 108 a sacred number as per yogic traditions are:
- According to Ayurveda, the human body has 108 sacred points aka marmas.
- In numerology, 108 is called Harshad Number (Joy-giver number). The sum of digits of 108 equals 9 and 108 is divisible by 9. Symbolically, it represents universal love, eternity, and awakening.
- The total number of scriptures like tantras and Upanishads are also 108 in number.
- Astronomically, 108 is important due to the fact that the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter.
- Mala beads are also 108 in number which is counted while meditation by the practitioner which makes it spiritually important.
Besides these yogic facts, 108 sun salutation is a dedicated practice that has a lot to offer internally and externally as:
- It uplifts the energetic levels of the body
- Develops the connectedness and grounding feelings within the practitioners
- It aids in the detoxification process
- Facilitates the flow of prana
- Provides psychological and spiritual benefits.
- Pent-up emotions are released while practicing 108 sun salutations.
- It boosts physical and mental stamina and strength.
When 108 Sun Salutations is practiced?
108 is a large number to practice the sun salutation sequence all in a row which can send chills down your spine. However, yogis and other practitioners perform the 108 rounds of sun salutation on big occasions or life events.
Ancient practitioners used to perform 108 rounds of sun salutations during the time which marks the change of seasons. This includes the Winter and Summer Solstice, and the Spring and Fall Equinox.
1. Spring and Fall Equinox
Spring and fall are the seasons where new beginnings and productivity are welcomed. Also, equinox divides 24 daily hours into two sets of 12 hours each for the day and night.
This marks the perfect timing for practicing 108 sun salutations having 12 yogic postures each synchronized with active inhalation and exhalation. Thus, it is known for the purification of blood and enhances ventilation in the lungs.
Hence, it fulfills the purpose of refreshing and regenerating effects on the body as is practiced at that time which marks new beginnings.
2. Summer and Winter Solstice
Another great time to practice 108 Sun Salutations is at the onset of Summer and Winter Solstice.
Summer marks the blooming season for the Earth due to the maximum influx of sunlight. It is also a period that signifies effective healing.
Winter solstice, on the other hand, signifies 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 point in time. In general, it takes 50 minutes to 2 hours to complete 108 rounds of sun salutations, though it’s totally worth it. Morning time is especially recommended to practice 108 sun salutation, however, practicing it in the evening hours is also acceptable.
How To Do 108 Sun Salutations
Before you jump into 108 sun salutation flow, warm up your body with simple stretching exercises. For the warm-up, you can do neck rotation to right and left side, rolling shoulder up and down with synchronized breathing. Also, for spine movement, you can do cat-cow stretch. Do 3 rounds of each exercise and then stand over your mat.
108 Sun Salutations can be practiced by breaking down it into 5 rounds. In each round in series, 10 salutations will be added.
First Round – 10 Salutations
Do the first 10 sun salutations at a slower pace. Once the body picks up the pace and has build stamina, you can speed up the further rounds.
- Stand in front of the mat with the feet hip-distance apart. Join your hands in Anjali Mudra, take a deep breath in, and with exhalation chant OM. Do breathing like this 3 times.
- (Begin with inhale, hands up → Exhale, bend down → Inhale, right leg back → hold your breath, left leg back → Come into plank pose → Exhale, knees chest chin down → Inhale, raise your head up in cobra → Exhale, down dog (hold your breath for 5 counts) → Inhale, right leg forward → Exhale, left leg forward → Inhale, hands up and Exhale, palms in Namaste) * 10 salutations
Second Round – 20 Salutations
On finishing the first 10 salutations, aim for the next 20 salutations in the second round. Here, you can speed up the sequence completing each cycle in 34 seconds. Set up a timer to count for 34 seconds in this round.
To speed up your pace for completing each cycle of 108 sun salutations, you can use the modified version of poses in further rounds. For example, inhaling in the cobra pose can be replaced by the sphinx pose or baby cobra, and arching back in the raised arms pose can be replaced by stretching hands up pose.
This modified sequence would look like this;
( Begin with a deep breath in, stretch your hands up (don’t arch back) → Exhale, micro bend your knees and fold forward → Inhale, right leg back → hold your breath, left leg back → Exhale, knees chest chin down → Inhale, raise your head up in baby cobra → Exhale, down dog → Inhale, step right leg forward → Exhale, left leg forward → Inhale, stretch hands up and Exhale, palms in Namaste ) * 20 salutations
Similarly in this manner, speed up your pace a little more consecutive rounds;
- In the third round aim for 30 salutations. Here set up a timer to count for 31 seconds and complete one cycle of sun salutation in this time frame.
- In the fourth round, aim for 40 salutations, complete one round in 26 seconds.
- And finally, in the fifth round, the last 8 salutations would be done. Here, take 24 seconds to complete each cycle.
In this way; 108 sun salutations get completed in just five rounds – 10+20+30+40+8.
When it’s performed without any breaks, It will take (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 keep count of each round of 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 poses of sun salutation in the first round. And from the second round, it automatically speeds up the pace to complete one cycle in 31 seconds and so on.
- Inhale and exhale, count loudly – To keep your poses on track, count loudly – ‘inhale and exhale’ every time you jump from one pose to another. If loudly count isn’t possible for you, keep the counts mentally.
- Pay attention to body parts – In each round, to make sure better focus in sequence, pay attention to the certain body for those specific number of salutations. For example, in the first round, it’s comparably easy to observe the movements of your body. Feel the expansion and contraction movement with breath in and out respectively.
- Wait-and-watch, when you missed flow – If you’re doing 108 sun salutations in the group and some poses get missed in between, then remain in the missed position and wait for others to reach into your missed position. Join the flow then.
- Odd count and even count – To remember which leg would first go back in the 4th step and come forward in the 9th step (Ashwa Sanchalanasana); in odd counts of sun salutations (1,3,5,7…) it would right leg and in even counts (2,4,6,8…), it would be the left leg.
- Rest down when needed – Whenever you feel dizziness or fatigue in between the flow, you can replace the downward dog pose step from the child’s pose to rest for a few breaths.
If 108 sun salutations still seem a daunting practice, then trying it for the factor of 108 like 27, 36, and 54 rounds also enough. These factors are also considered auspicious as it’s Harshad Number (Joy-giver number).
Additionally, for counting of 108 surya namaskar cycles, one can follow video like this;
Relaxing poses after 108 sun salutations sequence
- Gomukhasana (Cow face pose) – In the sun salutation, the arms are lengthened, stretched, and bears the body weight. While Gomukhasana, the shoulders are opened and the range of motion of shoulder joints is enhanced. Thus, it is a relaxing pose for the arms after 108 sun salutation.
- Vajrasana (Thunderbolt pose) – Vajrasana is practiced to relax the legs by bringing the blood flow to the lower body. It relieves the knees, spine, and neck. Hence, Vajrasana also serves as a relaxing posture.
- Natrajasana (Dancer pose) – It stretches the hips, lower back, abdomen, and neck muscles. These body parts are engaged throughout the 108 sun salutation, hence, Natrajasana is an excellent pose to relax after this practice.
- Pavanamuktasana (Wind-relieving pose) – It is performed lying on the supine position bringing the knees to the chest. It is followed by rolling the back on the floor and leaving a massaging effect on the back muscles.
- Yoga Nidra – 108 sun salutation raises the body temperature and to relax after the practice, it is important to bring the body temperature back to normal. Yoga Nidra allows the time to focus on various body parts and cools down the body
108 Sun Salutations Benefits
1. Enhances the strength of the body
Sun salutation is a sequence of 12 postures that involves intense stretches that lubricate most of the joints, spine, and other muscles. It improves the flexibility of the muscles and enhances the outer strength of the body.
2. Brings mindfulness
When 108 Sun Salutation is practiced in a row, it brings in repetition. Due to the repeated sequence, it enhances the psychological health and lets the practitioner be in the moment. Hence, it brings mindfulness.
3. Burns fat
It serves as an intense workout which is useful to burn calories. Hence, this practice is also useful for shedding extra fat and leaves a toning effect on the practitioner.
It is proven that one round of sun salutation burns approximately 13.9 calories. Hence the regular practice of 108 sun salutation is helpful in losing 1 pound every two days.
4. Brings self-acceptance
108 sun salutation is an intense workout and the human body requires time to adapt to such an extensive number of rounds. It lets you acknowledge your limitations as well as your potentials. Hence it develops a sense of self-acceptance within the practitioner.
5. Uplifts thinking process
108 sun salutation is a challenging task and initiating it develops encouragement. It inculcates motivation and boosts confidence levels. Taking steps towards this practice lets the practitioner come out of the comfort level. This improves the thinking process and shifts the perspective of the practitioner.
108 Sun Salutations FAQs
It is quite obvious to have doubts before stepping into 108 Sun salutation beside all the determination and commitments. This is a very personal experience for every practitioner still some queries are there which seems common among all.
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions for 108 sun salutations that will help you better and clarifying the basic doubts.
No, it is not necessary to practice 108 rounds of sun salutation every day. You can practice it as per your need and convenience whenever you feel like or you can also follow the pattern of ancient yogis to give it a try during special occasions.
It is better to practice with a partner to count it loud or you can simply break it into sets as mentioned above. Divide it into 12 sets each having 9 rounds or 9 sets having 12 rounds.
Like every yoga practice, 108 sun salutation must also be performed keeping the body limits in mind. It is okay to feel exhausted between the rounds and there is always room for taking breaks whenever your body demands so.
To resume, attain the down-dog pose and take a few moments over there and then continue as per the further sequence. If you are practicing with a group of people you can hold down dog pose until everyone else reaches this pose and then continue with them.
108 sun salutations may take up to an hour to complete. Beginners might take this practice as a time-consuming one especially as compared to normal sun salutes. However, this is not true, as the down dog is not held for breaths and it generally follows a fast pace. Hence, one can easily complete the 108 Sun Salutes including the 8 rest breaks in about an hour.
Yes, if a practitioner is able to perform regular sun salutes easily, then 108 sun salutation is also a piece of cake for them. Plus the satisfactory effects it leaves make it a worthy practice, no matter how daunting it sounds in the beginning.
Achieve complete wellness and satisfaction levels that you have been longing for so long with this practice of 108 sun salutation.
Give 108 sun salutation a try stepping out of your comfort zone once and find your all-time go-to practice to calm yourself down in it. Besides this, unleash your potential to uplift your overall health on energetic, mental, and physical levels.