the great 108 {yoga, spiritual, mathematical}

yesterday (wednesday june 20th), was the longest day of the year (in terms of sunlight), which is also known as the summer solstice. the solstice almost always happens on june 21st, but since today was a leap year, it came a day early.

in yoga tradition, we welcome in each season with 108 sun salutations. a sun salutation, or surya namaskar, is a sequence of movements performed in a flow linking breath and movement. sun A is a simple one and sun B adds a few extra postures. different styles of yoga have different variations on the sun salutations.

in ashtanga yoga, which is what my practice is rooted in, surya namaskar A looks something like:

  • begin standing, mountain pose (tadasana)
  • inhale, raise arms up (urdhva hastasana)
  • exhale, forward fold (uttanasana)
  • inhale, raise chest
  • exhale, jump back and lower through a pushup (chaturanga)
  • inhale, upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)
  • exhale, downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
  • 5 breaths in adho mukha svanasana; on empty hop forward
  • inhale, raise chest
  • exhale, uttanasana
  • inhale, urdhva hastasana
  • exhale, tadasana

and surya namaskar B is sun A but with these differences:

  • replace urdhva hastasana with chair pose (utkatasana) at the beginning and end
  • before taking 5 breaths in down dog:
    1. step right foot forward at the end of the exhale
    2. inhale, rise to warrior 1 (virabhadrasana 1)
    3. exhale, chaturanga
    4. inhale, urdhva mukha
    5. exhale, adho mukha
    6. do the left
    7. then hold down dog for 5 breaths

easy peasy, no? here is a further breakdown of sun A.

why 108? 108 is an interesting number. it is divisible by a lot of other numbers and has other fun mathy qualities.

  • 108/12 = 9 (9 dozen)
  • 108/9 = 12
  • 108/6 = 18 (18 is a lucky number in judaism)
  • etc… all of the divisors of 108 are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 27, 36, 54, 108
  • 108 is also an achilles number, which means it is powerful (for every prime divisor or factor p of np2 is also a divisor – ex: 3 is prime and both 3 and 32=9 is also a divisor) but not a perfect power (a positive integer that can be expressed as an integer power of another positive integer)
  • it’s also the hyperfactorial of 3, meaning 108 = 11 x 22 x 33

in hinduism and other religions, 108 has more special meanings.

  • 1, 0, and 8 represent “one thing”, “nothing” and “everything” (infinity).
  • hindu deities have 108 names.
  • because of the significance of 108, malas have 108 beads (malas are the hindu equivalent of a catholic rosary… sort of – and the rosary, i believe, also has 108 beads).
  • the distance from the earth to the sun, divided by diameter of the sun ~= 108.
  • the distance from the moon to the earth, divided by the diameter of the moon ~= 108.
  • stonehenge is ~108 feet in diameter.
  • there are 108 yoga sutras.

more on 108 (the number) here.

i am hoping to do 108 sun salutations this week. i wanted to do them all in one day (yesterday) but instead my practice yesterday was a class i took with bobby at pure yoga on 86th street. i will be back there again tonight for an inversions workshop. i wish i had been counting my sun salutes this week – i could have figured out how many more i needed to do to get to 108. i will try to find a way to fit them all in before june is over (can you believe it’s june 21st already?).

how did you celebrate the solstice?

PCOS Muffins / PCOS Bread Recipe

**UPDATE: My PCOS did resolve itself naturally. I think that this PCOS bread helped but honestly I can’t be sure what the final fix was! I was also following this eating plan when my PCOS cleared up. I went on to get pregnant in the summer of 2013 and have a son who was born in April of 2014.**

I think I have mentioned this before, but I have PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome). There are a lot of different opinions and research floating around regarding treatment and causes. One of the possible treatments is adding DCI, or D-Chiro-Inositol, to your diet. I actually got the idea for this recipe from a coworker at a previous job, but there are also many variations online if you google for PCOS muffins. This buckwheat farinetta has a lot of DCI in it, and so does soy lecithin which is also in the recipe. I modified this recipe from a bunch that I found online, but it came out really well. I will be making it again because i’m almost out.


Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups farinetta (order online HERE)
  • 1/2 cup soy lecithin granules (amazon has it)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-4 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or other “pumpkin pie” type spices – I used cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed/flaxmeal (optional, but good for Omega 3s) – I did not use this
  • 2 tablespoons ground black sesame seeds (optional – I did add this, and I used this grinder)

Combine (separately) the wet ingredients + sweetener in a medium or small bowl:

  • 2 mashed bananas (alternately, try pumpkin or applesauce?)
  • 1 cup baking stevia (do not use sugar here – PCOS people are particularly sensitive to sugar – our insulin response is usually messed up)
  • 3 medium organic eggs
  • 1 cup of whole milk (could sub a non-dairy milk, or even water)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or other extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients by pouring the wet into the dry. You may add extra goodies like chocolate chips, nuts, etc… but I did not.
  3. Spoon the batter either into muffin tins or a loaf pan (mine are circular and have ~1.5 inch high sides). My batter fit into 2 of the circular ones. The batter may or may not rise – mine did, but I read online that others didn’t – so fill accordingly.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 35 mins (check after 25).

This makes approximately 16 servings (each tin cut into 8 pieces). If you have 2-3 servings per day, that should be enough DCI to be effective. There are about 5200 grams of DCI in the whole batch. That means 325 grams in each 1/16th piece. Depending on your weight, have 2-3 per day (I think the study with DCI used 600 grams per day for smaller women).


I hope this helps someone! I really liked the muffins/bread. They definitely have an odd, “healthy” taste to them, but I like stuff like that. Try topping them with butter or cream cheese. Yum.