Why I’m Ringing in 2016 with 108 Sun Salutations

Ask anyone their least favorite holiday, and nine times out of ten they’ll say New Year’s. This highly anticipated celebration rarely lives up to its hype. It’s become almost cliche to say something along the lines of “I always make fun plans for New Years, but I never end up having fun.” “It’s too crowded.” “People get too drunk.” or “Everyone’s rude.”

As for me, I’ve always liked the idea of New Year’s. I get excited about the idea of new beginnings. With the passing of each year, I look back on the preceding 365 days with gratitude and nostalgia, while anticipating the excitement of things to come. I like the concept of New Year’s … even if the holiday itself rarely satisfies.

This year, I’m trying something new. Instead of a wild yet probably disappointing night out, my New Year’s Eve will be one of hearth and home (which isn’t a popular choice, being in my 20s). I’m going to go to bed early on New Year’s Eve, and on New Year’s Day, I’m going to ring in 2016 with 108 sun salutations—a yoga mala practice.

Here’s an example of how to do sun salutations from the Brooklyn Yoga School:

What is yoga mala?

If you’ve heard of mala beads—a sort-of Eastern rosary—you’re already familiar with the concept of mala. Mala refers to a sequence of 108 repetitions. Japa mala beads are prayer beads used in Hindu and Buddhist circles, and are comprised of 108 beads. The idea is to repeat your mantra or prayer 108 times, once for each bead on your chain.

ThinkstockPhotos-465176213A strand of mala beads may look like this.

Yoga mala applies this concept—the repetition of 108 prayers—to the physical yoga practice. In a yoga mala session, the yogini completes 108 sun salutations (surya namaskara), usually to herald a change in seasons. Many practitioners complete a yoga mala on the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, but New Year’s Day is another perfect time to try the practice.

The idea is that in your completion of 108 salutations, you’ll deepen your focus on your intentions for the coming year, as well as build physical, mental and emotional resilience. Yoga mala is said to be incredibly transformational—what a great way to start a new year!

Why the number 108?

The number 108 is deeply significant in Hindu and yogic traditions. Vedic mathematicians cite the number as “the wholeness of existence,” according to Yoga Journal. They claim that the distance from the sun and the moon to Earth is 108 times each planetary body’s respective diameter—and in fact, these figures do check out! There are also said to be 108 sacred sites, or pithas, throughout India, and 108 sacred places on the body, often referred to as marma points. Finally, there are 108 Upanishads—sacred philosophical texts in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

How you can participate

If you want to join me in welcoming 2016 with a yoga mala practice, you can easily do so from your own home. You can also do a quick search to see if any studios in your area are holding yoga mala events. The Global Mala Project is a great resource for connecting yogis who want to participate on the Fall Equinox and on International Peace Day.

I myself will be completing my yoga mala from the comfort of my living room, starting at 1 p.m. EST on New Year’s Day. I’ll be joining thousands of yogis across the world who are streaming the event on oneOeight. But one of the the best things about yoga is that you can do it anytime, anywhere, with anyone who wants to join you. Namaste, and best wishes for 2016!


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride3 years ago

Positive attitude

Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Antony M.
Antony M3 years ago


RK Henry
RK R3 years ago

I kind of do this. For me the lunge is first.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

Thank you.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

Peggy Binnion
Peggy B3 years ago

I am going to try this.

Tiffany Schreiner

great! thx :)