Just a brief thought about prostrations.

This is how we do prostrations in the Chan tradition, though it is common to use a special bench to lessen the physical strain.

In the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Repentance Ceremony, there are over 100 prostrations. It is common for monastics to make 108 prostrations per day, according to a tradition that says that there are 108 defilements, for which the 108 prostrations are purifying.

This is great exercise.

At LOTUS, everyone is welcome to make a profound bow instead of a full prostration, because all those prostrations can be physically taxing.

I personally encourage everyone to do the prostrations as not only an act of devotion, but also as physical exercise. Doing them is very good for your legs.

Doing 108 prostrations should take about 30-40 minutes, or the length of most workout routines. There are many devotional videos of that length available on YouTube that include chanting and bells to indicate the beginning of a prostration. I jokingly call these “Buddhist workout videos…” but not too jokingly.

They should be done slowly and deliberately, as is seen in the video above. This is not only reverent and promotes present moment awareness, but is also safer and promotes good physical health.

I first heard the term “Buddhist Calisthenics” from a few monks. They use the term to refer to the practice of doing 108 prostrations. One of them considered that the discipline may have actually had physical health as a primary intention, since monks spend so much time sitting down in one place.