Pradakshina is an ancient tradition for various reasons. Like the earth revolving around the sun, pradakshina is a religious act undertaken in various rituals. For example, in the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom take pradakshina around the Vedi, thereby cementing their vows in taking a 360-degree walk around the fire.
When we use our rosary mala for prayers, we make a mental pradakshina around with the 108 beads.
The Atma pradakshina is a special circumambulation (clockwise) around the atma or the “self ”. It is the turning of the self in a clockwise manner in a full 360-degree turn, centering thoughts on the soul and, like the world rotating and revolving around the superior objects, we rotate, and revolve while acknowledging the Atma. In this atma pradakshina we revolve around and make an appeal for the removal of evil that may result from our own past actions, from any direction and from any time (be it this or previous lifetimes).
The great Adi Shankaracharya said that pradakshina is like thousands of universes revolving around the Lord, the unmoving centre of all forms.
The Skanda Purana recommended Pradakshina (ch9 v28) “The sins committed by the mind are destroyed by the first step (of pradakshina), the sins committed in speech by the second and the sins perpetrated by the body by the third step…”
यानि कानि च पापानि जन्मान्तरकृतानि च।
तानि सर्वाणि नश्यन्ति प्रदक्षिणपदे पदे ॥
Yaanee kaani cha paapaani
Taani sarvaaṇi nashyanti
Whatever sins have been committed collectively in all of my various births, may they all be destroyed with every step of this pradakshina.
यानि those which कानि whatever च and पापा sins, wrongdoing जन्म birth, life अन्तर distant, apart (जन्मान्तर various lifetimes) कृतानि done (by me) च and तानि those, they सर्वाणि all नश्यन्ति gets destroyed प्रदक्षिण circumambulate पदे पदे step-by-step or with each step