108 Surya Namaskar: Meaning, Instructions, and Tips

You’ve probably experienced Surya Namaskar (Surya Namaskar) if you participate in a vinyasa yoga (flow).

Surya Namaskar helps connect mind and body through repetitive movements and breathing.

If you want to elevate your Surya Namaskar experience, participate in 108 (yes, 108!) Surya Namaskars for an unforgettable experience.

“Surya Namaskar warms your body and focuses your mind,” explains Anne Swanson, MS, E-RYT 500, a certified yoga therapist and author. The Science of Yoga.

Yoga students of all levels can integrate the 108 Surya Namaskar series into their practice.

How to do 108 Surya Namaskars

You have to walk before you run, and similarly, before you do 108 you have to do a Surya Namaskar.

Different types of yoga do Surya Namaskar differently, so learn basic Surya Namaskar first. If you are new to yoga, use this exercise as a goal to test your strength and stamina.

Start with this yoga video for beginners.

Traditional 108 Yoga Surya Namaskar The 108 Surya Namaskars consist of the following postures:

108 Tips to Master Surya Namaskar

So, you have decided to try 108 Surya Namaskars. Read the following tips for ways to tailor this series to your needs.

1. Plan to incorporate variations

Children's pose  108 Surya Namaskar

108 of anything is too much, so add variety to your Surya Namaskar with the following suggestions.

I recommend writing them down ahead of time so you’re ready to mix it up when the moment comes.

  1. Do child’s pose instead of downward facing dog
  2. Add a twist to your front fold.
  3. Consider swapping cows/cats for Chaturanga.
  4. Instead of Upward Facing Dog, bend your knees or do a baby cobra pose.
  5. Take a puppy pose instead of downward dog.

2. Take it slow

Slow and steady wins the race — and that goes for yoga, too. 108 Surya Namaskars take time, so allow at least 90 minutes for the class.

Running through class can put you at risk for injury and shift your focus from the present moment to the “finish line.”

Although a marathon is about speed, 108 Surya Namaskar exercises are not.

3. Train for

I suggest that even if you are a seasoned yogi, you may want to train your body to perform 108 Surya Namaskars.

Start with one Sun Salutation, then add one more each time you practice.

If you already incorporate several sun salutations into your regular practice, keep increasing the amount to test your comfort level.

4. Make changes if necessary

Yoga Lunge Pose with Block |  108 Surya Namaskar

However, 108 Surya Namaskars are a lot of repetitive movements, so listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.

“Go at your own pace with the breath,” says Swanson, who recommends using props, including chairs or walls.

If traditional yoga isn’t an option for you right now, she says, “You can also do sun salutations in a chair, mimicking the same movements as the floor version.”

5. Keep track

Although time doesn’t matter, the number of movements certainly does.

If you complete this exercise with a teacher, you are lucky. Your teacher will count all 108 Surya Namaskars for you.

If you’re doing this exercise alone, you need to find a way to keep track without breaking your focus. You can try:

  1. Write the numbers from five to 105 on a piece of paper (of course add three to reach 108). Each time you complete a set of five, mark it.
  2. Swanson recommends “repeating the number in your head with each breath.” It keeps your mind from wandering.
  3. Place two bowls on top of your mat. Place 27 beads or seeds in a container. The other will be empty. Each time you complete a round, transfer one bead from the full bowl to the empty one. Repeat four times.

6. Pause and take breaks

Drink plenty of water, rest when you need to, and consider taking an “intermission” halfway through or after each set of 27.

“You’ll know when to rest (or you’re holding your breath) if your breath is short or irregular,” says Swanson. “Also, stop if you feel any pain.”

If your mind starts to wander, it might be time for a break. Remember: slow and steady!

7. Allow time for rest

savasana posture |  108 Surya Namaskar

meeting Feel better after an extra long practice like 108 Surya Namaskars.

Don’t skip your last rest – take at least 15 minutes to recover before getting on with your day and feel the benefits of your exercise.

If time allows, spend a few minutes journaling about your experiences.

Why do 108 sun salutations?

Why 108 Sun Salutations instead of 100 or 107?

Swanson explains that “108 is a sacred number in Indian culture, Hinduism and yoga.” This is why you may see this auspicious number combined with the price or name of the yoga studio.

There are many ways to show 108 in yoga culture; For example, you can choose mala bead necklaces. But did you know your favorite fashion accessory is a great meditation tool?

“Traditionally, a mala has 108 beads that are used to count mantras during meditation,” says Swanson. “Surya Namaskar is performed 108 times to bring good luck for special occasions.” Counting the beads on a mala necklace is a great way to keep track of your 108 Sun Salutations, too.

(Learn more about mantras and other yoga positions.)

108 Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Yoga lunge pose  108 Surya Namaskar

Here are some of the benefits of 108 Surya Namaskars for the mind, body and soul.

1. Generate external power

Surya Namaskar is a full body movement.

“When you do sun salutations, you move and lubricate every major joint, strengthen and stretch the largest muscle groups in your body, get your blood and lymph flowing, and build cardiovascular resilience,” says Swanson.

2. Cultivating inner strength

Repetitive movement anchors your mind in the present moment,” explains Swanson. “You’re focusing on the movement and your breath, making it harder for your mind to wander. Research shows that the more your mind wanders, the less happy you’ll be.”

Because yoga trains you to be present and focused, “training your brain to redirect itself to the present moment can lead to a greater sense of inner peace,” she says.

(You get 108 chances at inner peace!)

3. To celebrate or honor a special event

Some yogis mark the change of seasons by practicing the 108 Surya Namaskars (think of it as a mental and physical seasonal cleanse).

I participated in 108 Sun Salutations as part of a New Year’s Day celebration, to raise money for a worthy cause and to celebrate the opening of a new yoga studio.

You can do 108 Surya Namaskars to honor your birthday, signify a new beginning, or say you’ve done it.

Some yogis consider the 108 Surya Namaskars to be like a yoga marathon, which they seek to build internal and external strength to achieve.

Yoga postures  108 Surya Namaskar

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