The number 108 is a significant number in many cultures. It is common in Hinduism, Vedic teachings, Daoism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and many yoga practices. It is seen as the number of the wholeness of existence.
According to the ancient yogi’s there are 108 Pitha’s (sacred sites) throughout India. There are also 108 Upanishads (ancient Indian texts) and 108 marma points (energetic places of the body). In Hinduism, there are 108 names for each deity.
The number 108 also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
People who recite mantras are often using a mala ( a necklace with 108 beads). The 109th bead is the largest. When reaching this one the yoga practitioner flips the mala around and continue reciting while moving backwards through the beads.
The guru bead (the largest one) represents the summer and winter peaks, when the sun appears to stop in its course and reverse directions. In yoga as well as ayurveda we learn that we’re deeply interconnected with all of nature. Using a mala is a symbolic way of connecting ourselves with the cosmic cycles of our universe.
Yoga practitioners are encouraged to participate in a 108 sun salutation practice for rejuvenation, cleansing of the body and mind and be in harmony with nature and themselves.