Winter Solstice and The Significance of 108

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice symbolizes death and rebirth - new beginnings and fresh starts. I want to challenge you to take time this Friday, December 21, 2018, and take some time to set intentions to make new beginnings for the new year ahead while you challenge your physical and mental limits with 108 Sun Salutations.

The number 108 is sacred and significant in many ways, appearing in many disciplines from astronomy to religion, to yoga. I have compiled here a few examples of where and how this significant number appears in the world.

The number 108 appears in the ancient yogic texts. There are 108 Upanishads and 108 Tantras.  Mala bead necklaces used to count in meditation, traditionally have 108 beads.

In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, there are 108 sacred points on the body.

Christian rosaries are made up of 54 beads (two rounds make 108).

The diameter of Stonehenge, which is associated with Druidry, is 108 feet.

In Astronomy, the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter. The distance from the sun to the earth is 108 times the diameter of the sun. The distance of the moon from the earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon.

In mathematical terms, 108 is also a natural division of circle (see diagram) into a pentagram, where the circle symbolizes eternity and infinity, and the cycles of life and nature, while the circle touching all five points indicates that earth, water, fire, air, and spirit are all connected.

Symbolically, 1 can be said to stand for Truth or God, 0 for Emptiness or Completeness as defined in spiritual practice, and 8 for Infinity and Eternity. Or, 1 can be said to stand for the individual soul, 0 for the whole, and 8 for eternity.

The most interesting to me is what I found according to numerology:

  • 1 resonates with the vibration of new beginnings. It carries the energies of masculine attributes and plants the seeds of creation, with authority, direction, strength, and love.

  • 0 resonates with a wholeness, where there is no beginning and no end, a God force whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. It also symbolizes freedom from limitations.

  • 8 resonates with personal power, confidence, ability, and inner strength. It resonates with the energies of giving and receiving both material and spiritual wealth. Number 8 is also the number of karma – the universal spiritual law of cause and effect.

There are many representations of the number 108 and many interpretations of the significance of 108. But what will be more real to you is what it means to you.

When do people practice 108 Sun Salutations?

Traditionally, practicing 108 Sun Salutations is reserved for the change of the seasons Winter and Summer Solstice, Fall and Spring Equinox

Why do people practice 108 Sun Salutations?

It is believed that the internal heat that you build during this practice is cleansing, detoxifying, and gets you more in touch with yourself. There are many physical and internal benefits to practicing 108 Sun Salutations.

This special practice helps move Energy. Sun Salutations heat the body and activate Prana, or upward energy.

During 108 Sun Salutations, you will at some point think, “ Why did I commit to doing this?” If you keep going, you will find a state of ease and even a sense of flow. You will surrender to the process, acknowledge what arises emotionally, and then let it go. When you finish, you will feel lighter and find your own personal meaning in this ancient ritual.

As you take on this challenge of 108 Sun Salutations here are a few things to consider that will allow you to be more successful; 1) Set and intention, mantra, resolution and focus on that and your breath as you flow through your salutations. 2) If you are newer to this practice, modify your Sun Salutations to either half salutes or move slower. 3) Set up a counting method. Traditionally, 10 beads or seeds are used at the top of the mat, and each time around has been completed that bead is moved from one side of the mat to the other to keep track of the rounds completed. 4) Allow yourself to break up the 108 Sun Salutations throughout your day, 10, 20 or 50 at a time, but be sure to focus on your intention and breath each time you step back on your mat to continue this sacred practice. 5) Enjoy the physical and mental challenge for all it holds for you.

I’d love to hear about your journey with this special practice this winter solstice with a comment below. Enjoy your journey into your new beginnings.