Should You Practice 108 Sun Salutations?

Kaisa Kapanen
Should You Practice 108 Sun Salutations?

Sun Salutations are familiar to all yogis; they are the delicious opening movements to many yoga sequences and the cornerstone to many yogis’ home practice.

They energize our solar plexus region, an important energy center for the body, leaving us feeling energized and refreshed. But should you practice 108 of them in a row?

The Importance of the Number 108

The number 108 has many meanings and it is considered a sacred symbol across various disciplines. In Hinduism and in Buddhism, there are 108 beads in a mala bead, which is used for counting prayers, breaths, or mantras. In astrology, the number ties the sun and the earth together, since the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.

The number itself can also represent our connection to the divine (1 = God or higher truth, 0 = emptiness in spiritual practice, 8 = infinity).

The Practice of 108 Sun Salutations

Customarily, the 108 Sun Salutations are practiced during the change of the seasons, such as the first day of spring, summer, fall and winter, to acknowledge the changing world around us. This is often done in groups that gather together, united by a higher cause, like fundraisers or charitable events.

Doing 108 sun salutations requires a certain level of mental resolve and commitment, so why should you do this?

You Should Practice 108 Sun Salutations If...

You want to practice being in the present.

It is no surprise that doing 108 consecutive Sun Salutations can seem like a daunting task. It can be easy to let the mind run around in thoughts about how many salutations are still left, how you could be having ice-cream instead, or how long it will take before you are done.

In fact, there is always only one salutation to finish—the current one. The practice gives 108 (and more!) opportunities to come back to your breath, come back to the present moment, and allow there to be more space without thoughts or expectations.

You want to practice self-acceptance.

It is a challenge to let go of expectations about how the practice of 108 Sun Salutations should look like or feel like for us. We may have to rest more than our ego would like, or modify more than our neighbor. But our yoga practice is always our own, and we can only start where we are today.

It may not always be the easiest or the most comfortable spot, but practicing 108 Sun Salutations provides us a great opportunity to practice more self-love and acceptance.

You want to connect to a higher cause.

The 108 Sun Salutations are often done as part of an event focusing on a cause or intention which transcends our individual egos and desires. There is a special power of joining a group of like-minded yogis and feeling the joint energy rise and take over. Dedicate your practice to a higher cause, and feel the difference in your practice.

You want to challenge your thought patterns.

Finishing something that seems impossible, or at least very difficult, at first is a great motivator not only for your physical practice, but for your mind as well. When we step out of our comfort zone and try something challenging, we receive a boost of confidence that can influence many other areas in life.

When you excel in one thing, you may challenge your thinking by asking "what else have I told myself I cannot do?" We are always stronger than we think we are!

When should you NOT practice 108 Sun Salutations?

Even though you can always modify yoga poses, and therefore, your Sun Salutations, it's best to wait until you are fully recovered from any wrist and/or shoulder injuries before doing 108 Salutations.

To modify Sun Salutations, you can do this by bend the knees in forward fold, drop the knees in a plank, do a baby cobra instead of Upward Facing Dog and come to Child's Pose whenever you need to rest (instead of a Downward Facing Dog).

Have you practiced 108 Sun Salutations? What was your experience like?

Image credit: Odette Hughes