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Why 108? The Sacred Numerology of Yoga

I've led several mala workshops and almost always get asked the same two questions! The most common question I am asked, is where did you get that mala necklace? I've hand-knotted every mala necklace I own. And, two, why are there 108 beads in a mala necklace? This question has several answers. We'll touch on a few of the most interesting responses in this article. Continue reading to learn more.

In yoga, the number 108 refers to spiritual completion. That’s why japa malas are composed of 108 beads, with an additional “guru” bead, which, when reached, prompts the practitioner to count the mala beads in reverse order. Pranayama exercises are often repeated in 108 cycles, and even sun salutations are completed in nine rounds of 12 postures, which, when multiplied, adds up to 108. Ancient yogis believed that we can attune ourselves to the rhythms of creation by completing practices in rounds of this sacred number.


108 Numerology

Numbers can be seen as messengers. When the number 108 appears in our lives, it may mean that we are about to attain a long-desired goal or achievement. The number 108 consists of the individual numbers 1, 0, and 8.


The number 1 represents authority and leadership. It also represents new beginnings, taking initiative, and embarking on a new path of progress. The number 0 is mysterious in that it represents both nothingness and eternity, but when combined with other numbers, it will amplify the vibrational influence of the other numbers. The number 8 is related to power and influence, abundance and achievement, and the power to manifest desired outcomes. When this vibration becomes dominant in our lives, we can expect to wield great influence in our chosen areas of interest or professional lives.


Another explanation is this: 1, 0, and 8: 1 stands for God or higher truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

108 may also be considered a special number or combination that represents 9. Number 9 is considered highly spiritual and entrusts us with high spiritual energy associated with altruism and humanitarianism. So when number 9 “shines” through the number 108, it signals that we should share our gifts and abundance with those less fortunate. The abundance we attract, we must remember, has come to us by aligning with the Divine Source. Conversely, when we align our thoughts with the Divine Source, our whole attitude changes, and we naturally become generous, altruistic, and benefactors of the world – all the while maintaining a sense of gratitude for all we have.


The Divine Source keeps giving without expecting anything in return. We can best maintain a connection to that source through gratitude and generosity – such an attitude will continue to attract prosperity into our lives, materially and spiritually.



Representing the Wholeness of the Universe

Mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, who was born around A.D. 1170 and after whom the Fibonacci sequence is named, believed that the number 108 has a way of representing the wholeness of existence. The Fibonacci sequence is also related to the golden ratio. Some plants' spiral arrangement of leaves or petals follows the golden ratio. Pinecones and the seeds in a sunflower exhibit a golden spiral. The Fibonacci sequence is one of the most prominent mathematical formulas. Each number in the sequence is the sum of the two preceding numbers. So, the Fibonacci sequence goes - 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on.


It’s been called "nature's secret code" or "nature's universal rule." It is said to govern the dimensions of everything from the Great Pyramid at Giza to the iconic seashell called Nautilus.

Amazingly, the 1.08 constant growth rate the nautilus uses to build its spiral shell involves the same pattern, which repeats every 24 numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

Furthermore, the number 108 has significance concerning the distance between the Earth and the moon and between the Earth and the sun.


The distance between the moon and the earth is 108 times the moon's diameter – but only once a month because, according to NASA, the moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle but more of an ellipse. Similarly, the distance between the Earth and the sun is 108 times the sun's diameter. Earth’s orbit around the Sun is, however, also an ellipse. And so on September 18-19, the distance of the Sun from Earth is 108 times that of the Sun’s diameter.


Interestingly, Leonardo Fibonacci (whose real name was Leonardo of Pisa) did not discover the sequence. Instead, ancient Sanskrit texts that used the Hindu-Arabic numeral system first mentioned it, and those predated Leonardo of Pisa for centuries.



The importance of 108 in astronomy and astrology:

  • Vedic astrology has 12 solar houses and 9 lunar houses, 9 x 12 = 108.

  • The sun's diameter 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 moon's diameter.  This makes the moon appear the same size as the sun during eclipses.


“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.” - Manoj Chalam

108 is a powerful key to our Universal being!




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