If there were to be a numerical symbol of yoga it would have to be 108. The number is esteemed esoterically, and through 108, the union between the microcosm and macrocosm is depicted concretely.
The importance of the number 108 can be seen repetitively in astronomy and astrology:
- In Vedic astrology there are 12 solar houses and 9 lunar houses, 9 x 12 = 108.
- The diameter of the sun is about 108 times that of the diameter of Earth.
- The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter.
- The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 238,800 miles, about 108 times the moons diameter. This makes it so the moon appears the same size as the sun during eclipses.
- To quote Manoj Chalam, “the ratio of 108 may be the key to finding planets hospitable to life outside of our solar system, just look toward this same size and distance relationship,” 108 is key to our being.
In taking this universal element and applying it to the individual, you may notice that:
- Yogis do 108 sun salutations on solstices and equinoxes
- Meditators count mantra repetitions with mala beads of 108, (100 counted for self, 8 for mistakes and for those who have not the opportunity to meditate in mantra)
- Tai chi chuan long forms are counted as 108 postures or movements.
Practicing meditative movement and meditation helps us unite our mental, physical, and spiritual aspects with the natural or universal elements. The same principles and relationships can be applied to the interaction of the individual with the collective of individuals. We are all, no matter our differences, united by our natural settings and conditions.
108 is illustrative of the simplest, and yet pinnacle guide to meditation:
- 1 for focusing on one thing, the verticality of the breath
- 0 for maintaining zero senses or preconceptions so as to be open
- 8 for uniting with the flow of the infinite
Through 108 reflection of the universe in ourselves, it becomes possible for us to see ourselves in others. This is often a difficult thing to do in a culture of separation. We are all part of the brotherhood of man, everything is a reflection of ourselves. We are not separate from the stars, we are the stars, we are not separate from each other, we reflect each other.
Ethan Indigo Smith is an author, philosopher and yoga practitioner. He currently resides in Tahoe City, California where he writes, snowboards and teaches yoga. He first learned chi gung in Canada after hurting himself on a snowboard trip and has been practicing meditative movement of some sort ever since. For many years he practiced chi gung, bone tapping and wu tai chi chuan. He began integrating many systems towards refining his snowboarding. A practitioner friend, from a family of practitioners and body workers, introduced Ethan to The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, which he has been practicing for years too. He currently practices tai chi and yoga in the Tahoe area and teaches at Mountain Lotus Yoga Studio and Tahoe Yoga and Martial Arts. Ethan has written several books including Tibetan Fusion a book of simple meditative practices and movements that can help you access and balance your energy, The Little Green Book of Revolution an inspirational book based on ideas of peaceful revolution, historical activism and caring for the Earth like Native Americans, The Matrix of Four, The Philosophy of the Duality of Polarity on the subject of the development of individual consciousness and 108 Steps to Be in The Zone a set of 108 meditative practices and steps toward self discovery and individual betterment, including techniques to develop balance, transmute energy and better the self.