THE BLOG
03/14/2014 12:49 pm ET Updated May 11, 2014

Yoga and Baseball: 108 Degrees of Harmonic Convergence

Spring and baseball. Baseball and Spring. They arrive together just as surely as winter and spring converge at the vernal equinox and just as surely as it wouldn't be the change of seasons if yogis the world over weren't threatening to perform 108 Sun Salutations (how often does someone who says they are going to do so actually do so?) to celebrate that thing that they celebrate regarding something or other (the sun? the seasons? the life cycle? I can't quite remember, even though I've written about it once or twice or thrice).

Now, follow the logic:

If baseball season goes with the arrival of spring,
And the arrival of spring goes with the practice of yoga,
Then baseball must go with yoga.

It's a mathematics thing. It's called a "Transitive Relation" (if A is related to B and B is related to C, then A is related to C). It's in Wikipedia, so it's not merely true, it's noteworthy.

So, yoga and baseball. Baseball and yoga. It's not like they have nothing in common, although I'll grant they have very little in common. Baseball's a sport. Yoga is not* (*or is it?). Baseball is played on teams. Yoga is not (although it is practiced by one NFL Team - the Seattle Seahawks - as part of their mandatory training). Baseball has a set of official rules. Yoga's rules are not codified, although they certainly are numerous. Baseball comes in one flavor (American). Yoga does not (Yoga pole dance, anyone?).

But there's this one thing. And it's essential. It's the number 108.

Just as yoga has 108 Sun Salutations, baseball has a ball with 108 stitches (yes, I know, they're double stitches, but that still adds up to 108 double stitches). Could this possibly be just a coincidence? Is coincidence even a thing?

Or could it be...perhaps...that baseball and yoga are inextricably intertwined on a deep and essential level - a level so deep and essential that it is virtually impossible to perceive the connection? As the faithful would tell you, the impossibility of proof is proof enough. As yogis would tell you, the fact that you think you know proves you don't. As Yogi Berra would say, "You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

Perhaps then, the apparent disparity between baseball and yoga is nothing more than a bunch of cosmic bunk? Whether it is or is not, one thing's for certain: I'm here to debunk it.

I begin with the statement made by the character of Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon) at the outset of the 1988 movie, Bull Durham: "There are 108 beads in a catholic rosary, and there are 108 stitches on a baseball. " When Annie heard that she "gave Jesus a chance." Nevermind that it "didn't work out" or that there's no mention of "yoga" - because of the whole "transitive relation" thing again: Baseball and Catholicism. Catholicism and Yoga. Baseball and Yoga. Et voila.

And it's not just Catholicism either. Religions the world over treat "108" as a sacred number. Tibetan and Zen Buddhists, as well as Sikhs, string 108 beads together for prayer, just as the Catholics do. Buddhists count 108 names for Buddha, 108 feelings and 108 defilements. Hindus count 108 names for Shiva. It is the 108th verse of the Old Testament which tells of God's creation of man. As for "man", 108 is the Chinese representation. And 108 is the number of degrees Fahrenheit at which a man's bodily organs will fail. As such, the number 108 not only connects baseball to yoga and yoga to baseball, but also yoga and baseball to numerous other religions - both theistic and non-theistic - as well as to the creation of man and to man's undoing.

Likewise, as much as the number 108 is connected to religion, it is also connected to heresy - being the number of chances an individual has for transcending the material world according to the "heretical" study of "Gnosticism". As such, 108 connects religion to heresy (as well as heresy to yoga, but that's a whole other story). Similarly, the number 108 connects science (astronomers have measured the distance between Earth and Sun as 108 times the Sun's diameter, which they likewise measured as 108 times the diameter of Earth) and pseudoscience (Astrologists can identify 108 personality permutations by virtue of the twelve signs of the Zodiac multiplied by the nine planets).

All that is disparate can now be connected thanks to the number 108. It's the number of cards in an UNO deck (game) as well as the number of "zones" in Digimon's Digiworld (gamers). It's the number of days it took Yuri Gagarin to orbit the earth (outer space) and the number of routes energy can take to flow through the human body (inner-spacey). It's the number of Penelope's suitors in Homer's The Odyssey (monumental epic poem), and the diameter of Stonehenge (epic monumental mystery).

Theism, non-theism. Religion, heresy. Science, pseudoscience. Space travel, energy channels. Literary classics of ancient Greek origin, archaeological classics of unknown prehistoric origin. All of them connected by the number 108, and therefore, all of them connected (transitive theory - it's a mathematics thing).

So then, why not baseball and yoga? Is it really such a seventh inning stretch (sorry, couldn't resist) to connect the great American pastime with my own favorite pastime?

As baseball's great Yogi would say, "If you ask me a question I don't know, I'm not gonna answer."

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