Prostrations are a fantastic skillful means: all at once, each prostration represents an act of repentance & purification, a willingness to learn, respect for the teachings & all the enlightened ones, and more.
The approach to prostrations taken in Tendai-shu, from what I've seen, differs substantially from that of the Tibetan schools DW members might be more familiar with. Let's say you're working on your ngondro: you may accumulate, on your own and at your own pace, 200 or 300 or more prostrations in a day, accumulating 100K over time, mindful of the refuge field you are visualizing in front of you. In a group, everyone may offer prostrations, but it is unlikely these will be harmonious. People prostrate when they take their seat, and when the teacher comes, they offer three prostrations, but not as a whole.
By contrast, in Tendai-shu, when we practice prostrations together, part of the practice is to harmonize with each other. Someone is at the front of the room (your teacher) keeping time and keeping count for everyone. Everyone chants together, comes up and bows together, comes down together, and so on. This requires a bit more mindfulness, and goes some ways toward breaking down that idea that this is some kind of individual accomplishment trip.
the ups and downs of prostrations...
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors (most of them from DharmaWheel), I'm doing a Vajra Armor (Dorje Kotrab) self-retreat this summer. May the merit be yours!