yoga blog

What’s the magic about 108?

Have you ever heard about this number? It has many important and symbolic meanings in diverse disciplines ranging from mathematics to religions and spiritual practices, martial arts, yoga and you even find it in buildings and temples. It appears to have been a mystical number back in the day.

In yoga, the number 108 refers to spiritual completion – it seems to have an essence that connects us to the whole.

Can a number connect us to our place in the cosmic order? 

You will find tons of examples where the number 108 appears, but asking for why 108, we’re thrown back to believes and interpretations rather than proof points.

Let’s have a look to where we find this magic number:

  • Based upon the sacred cycle of 108 yogis practice once a year, usually at spring equinox or to honor the international yoga day 108 Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutations)
  • 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and Yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead”). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra.
  • Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence.
  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet; each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times two is 108.
  • Stages of the soul: Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • There are said to be a total of 108 nadis (energy lines) in the body converging to and from Anahata, the heart chakra.
  • In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • 108 degrees Fahrenheit is the internal temperature at which the human body’s vital organs begin to fail from overheating.
  • 1 = God or higher Truth
    0 = emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice
    8 = infinity or eternity

Does 108 has any meaning for you? Without really thinking about it, my number of luck has always been 9 and some years ago I figured out, that 9 is also my number following the Mayan astrology. 1 + 0 + 8 = 9, here we go….

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Meet me in paradise!

Have you ever thought about doing a Yoga retreat? It was a big thing for me when I did my first one years ago. A step into the unknown – not knowing the place, nor the people or teachers. I wasn’t used to travel the world on my own, so I had to convince myself to follow my longing. It felt like a break through into a new world, a world of travelling and meeting new people from around the world. Exciting and a bit scaring same time.

I can’t express how happy and overall grateful I am that I decided to go that time. This holiday changed my life forever. In a good sense of course!

Many years later, I will host my own retreat (woop woop!) and you know what? It will be at the same stunning beautiful location where I attended my first one! This is so exciting and I love to make this a magical week for my participants too. They will be pampered with delicious vegetarian food, dive into the power of the yoga frequency and experience a feeling of being family.

Are you wondering if this is something for you? Read my post here to get some clarity.

Interested? Check the details of my magical week in Bali – hope to see your there! Welcome to paradise!

Listen

„It’s not about forcing or willing your body, it’s actually so much more about listening.“ Kino McGregor

I love this. It’s all about tuning in, listen and allow things to happen. Yoga is a process and to force yourself into a posture will nothing but harm your body. Well honestly, your mind too, as you might get frustrated. Do good for yourself and stop getting attached to the perfect posture.

My students know quite well how much I repeat and remind them to focus on their breath, to follow it trough their bodies and to let the breath work for them. Through your breath you can lengthen, release, you can even go much deeper into a pose. But you must go internal. This might be difficult at the beginning, particularly when in class. Give it a try anyhow.

A good preparation is to meditate. Sit quiet and bring your full attention to your breath, nothing else. Feel your breath, watch it flowing through your body, maybe you can even hear it. Sharpen all your senses focussing on your breath.

In your next class, just do the same. Listen to your teacher, let the voice be your guide through the flow of poses, while you are on your journey inwards, with your breath as your beautiful travel companion.

Be patient and allow your practice step by step to become a moving meditation.

The Truth

Think outside the box. What’s right, what’s wrong? Many of us think that they know exactly. We were educated to establish certain values; we learned the rules and we were told on how to behave. All teachers we had and still have are telling us the right way. Be aware, it’s only what they have been taught and/or what they believe in!

I’d like to encourage you to question everything. What a teacher tells you, what’s written in the books, what your parents, your partner or friends believe in. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but asking you to think about it. What does it mean to YOU, how does it fit into your world? Also ask yourself what do you believe in and is this really what you think or are you just repeating without any reflection? Not judging, but a healthy reflection, which is required to make up your own believes.

Think about it….. it’s worth it! And it’s well needed to find your own truth.

Am I talking about yoga? Of course! As a teacher, I tell my students how to access the postures, how to breathe, how to connect with their bodies and themselves. Am I telling the truth? Yes, from my point of view I do. It’s what I’ve learned and what I believe in. I don’t teach anything just following the books, it went through my reflection and is finally exactly what I believe in. Is it right for my students? If they don’t reflect and question, the answer is no. Everybody has to find ones’ own truth. All teachings are just a large bouquet of options, other people’s findings and their truth.

What about things that have been proved as right? Such as a certain medicine, that removes your pain? You might have experienced, that a medicine can help, but it doesn’t do each time. So is it true then? You decide.

Back to yoga. A simple physical example is the right posture. My opinion: there is no such thing as a perfect posture. What? Of course, we have pictures of super bendy yogis and descriptions from the great teachers and gurus –  extremely useful guides! While trying to master a posture, we have to take our body and its capability into consideration. When practicing regularly the body changes, it gets more flexible and stronger, poses become easier and closer to that image of perfect. Finally, it will always be YOUR variation of the posture, even if it looks pretty much like in the books. It might not, that’s absolutely fine. Each body is different.

There’s only one truth: YOURS.

How to quieten your mind

You can’t? Welcome to the club! To not be able to quieten ones mind is one of the mysteries we tend to believe.

As long as you’re busy trying to calm your mind by getting rid of all thoughts, sorry to tell you, it’s not gonna happen. Well… let’s be more specific: you can calm your mind, but you won’t be able to stop your thoughts of having a party when they feel like it. Even worse, as soon as you feed them, maybe through following them or telling them to leave, they got you.

Instead, ignore them. Let them pass. Don’t give them any attention, but bring your awareness to your breath. No matter if you’re meditating, practicing asanas or just include a little break into your day, it’s a quite good idea to fully focus on your breath. Feel your breath, listen, follow your breath through your body and concentrate just on this. It helps to be fully aware and keep your focus.

If this isn’t enough, you can add a mantra. A short mantra that you recite mentally. This keeps your mind busy and guides your focus. The beauty of a mantra is of course additionally it’s meaning. I like to use Sanskrit mantras, as they require a bit more concentration. Just saying a mantra mentally and repeat, non stop.

I’ve got some suggestions for you, some short mantras I like to use, particularly in meditation:

  • Aham Prema (I am love)
  • Aham Brahmasmi (I am the universe)
  • Sat Shit Ananda (truth, consciousness, bliss)
  • OM Mani Padme Hum (the sound of silence, the jewel in the lotus)
  • OM Ram Ramaya (an invocation to Rama, whose perfection exists in us all, to radiate confidence and strength)

As everything, it’s not just a one shot, but implementing a regular practice!

Pause

The most challenging practice is to pause. Terrible pain in my ribs released a huge moaning out of my mouth and made me fall on my face in chaturanga. Damn. Not again. I can’t practice asanas since two weeks and I’m close to freak out. I know, not very yogic. I miss my Ashtanga practice badly! At least some yin yoga postures are manageable and do the daily work to calm me down.

What do I have to learn? Patience. Trust. Let go. Looks like I’m getting this lesson once in a while the hard way. But hey, I take the challenge, I’m working on it. I meditate, sending my breath through all my cells. The good thing about it, I use the time to bring all my attention to the yoga off the mat. Read here what else yoga has to offer. There’s a lot to learn and to do and I have to admit, it’s time to invest a bit more time here!

And for the time being, getting up, is my ultimate yoga practice.