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Renewal & Rituals

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down.

Mary Pickford

Each year, on the first day of the year I practice 108 rounds of Surya Namakar (Salute to the Sun). This flowing series of movements combined with breath technique was introduced to modern yoga by Sri Pattabhi Jois and Swami Sivanada Saraswati in the mid 20th century as a technique to cleanse the body, create focus and warm up before the static asana or held postures in a yoga practice. It has been recently adopted as a way to practice japa mala, a meditation technique where 108 beads are counted, similar to the way a Catholic might use a rosary. 108 is an auspicious number in many traditions and sciences and in Yoga culture the link most closely connected to the Upanishads of Vedic Literature.

Some connections to the significance of 108

  • The distance from the earth to the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.

  • The Sun is 108 times the total diameter of the earth.

  • In Vedic astrology, we use nine planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, North node Rahu, and South node Ketu). These are called the nava graha. There are the 12 signs of the zodiac (Aries to Pisces). Nine multiplied by 12 equals 108.

  • In Vedic astrology, there are 27 constellations or nakshatras. Each of them can occupy a particular direction (North, South, East, or West). So, 27 multiplied by four equals 108.

  • Vedic astrology is a lunar based tradition. The metal silver is correlated to the Moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.

  • There are ancient Sanskrit texts called the Upanishads. Upanishads translates as “sitting near God”. These books expound on the Vedas. Most scholars believe agree that there are 108 Upanishads.

  • Many Indian deities have 108 names.

  • In the Sri Yantra, there are marma points or energy centres where three lines intersect. There are 54 of these intersections. Each intersection has a male and female quality (known and Shiva and Shakti). 54 multiplied by two is 108. The Sri Yantra is said to be a microcosm of the cosmos, as well as the human body. (From

For me personally, I enjoy the challenge of the practice on New Years Day as a form of discipline. The practice ensures I don't indulge too much on New Years Eve and when practiced with a group of people serves to keep me accountable. Usually I have held group sessions IRL (in real life for those born pre 1990) where those who are feeling worn out are lifted by the energy of others. However this year I will be holding a Zoom session. I hope that together we can produce a little more positive resolve to get up and direct our energy collectively which may also help to re-instate our autonmomy.


The Sivanada Style Sun Salutation:

The Ashtanga Style Sun Salutation: