One New Year's Eve I participated in a special class at Yoga District to bring in the new year. At the end of class we chanted 108 oms. I was wondering what the significance of this practice was so I did some research.
According to Yoga experts, the following are some reasons for the power of Om:
  1. The chanting of Om drives away all worldly thoughts and removes distraction and infuses new vigor in the body.
  2. When you feel depressed, chant Om fifty times and you will be filled with new vigor and strength. The chanting of Om is a powerful tonic. When you chant Om, you feel you are the pure, all pervading light and consciousness.
  3. Those who chant Om will have a powerful, sweet voice. Whenever you take a stroll, you can chant Om. You can also sing Om in a beautiful way. The rythmic pronunciation of Om makes the mind serene and pointed, and infuses the spiritual qualifications which ensure self-realization.
  4. Those who do meditation of Om daily will get tremendous power. They will have luster in their eyes and faces.
As for the number 108, the individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.

108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Malas, or prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads. A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra, similar to the Catholic rosary.

Mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.

According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.

Some other interesting 108 references:

  • In India, 108 is the toll-free emergency telephone number, our version of 911.
  • 108 degrees Fahrenheit is also the internal temperature at which the human body's vital organs begin to fail from overheating.
  • An official Major League Baseball baseball has 108 stitches.

Saying 108 Oms was a bit tiring for me, but not nearly as tiring as doing 108 sun salutations, a tradition I have heard practiced on New Year's day in some studios!