In yoga, as in life, everything has its cycles.
Night follows Day. New moon follows full moon. Winter follows summer.
So too in our bodies we have these rhythms.
Sleep and wake. Focus and daydreaming. Breath rising and falling. Heart pumping and relaxing. The internal organs have cycles of peak activity and rest.
Activity and rest constantly balance each other.
When we fall out of balance with the natural cycles within us and with our surroundings, we often see the results in our body and mind.
(And it’s not that “balance” always feels smooth and calm. Don’t forget the earth is spinning on its axis and changing poles as it hurtles around the sun. And the sun is firing of solar flares here and there as it flies through the galaxy.)
Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutations, is a flow which helps you to reconnect to these natural cycles.
We flow through 12 postures, correlating with the 12 hours of the day and night, the 12 stages of the zodiac and the 12 years of the solar cycle.
By setting the intention to connect with the sun with this sequence of postures, we acknowledge that source of light and warmth which gives us life as we know it on this Earth.
The sun is physically in your body from the plant foods that you eat which have photosynthesized the sun’s energy to create their green leaves.
It’s in your bones as the vitamin D which is produced when the sunlight hits your skin cells.
It’s in the healthy glow of your sun-kissed skin.
We also connect with that aspect of our own being which has the capacity for life-giving, stimulating vitality.
Sadhguru, of Isha Yoga in Coimbatore, India, says
“In everything that you eat, drink and breathe, there is an element of the sun.
Only if you learn how to better “digest” the sun, internalize it, and make it a part of your system,
do you truly benefit from this process.”
This yoga flow works on many levels to produce its numerous benefits, which include:
- A complete body workout
- Joint and spine flexibility
- Boosts digestion, massages internal organs
- Stimulates circulation
- Balances physical and mental energy
- When combined with regulating the breath it builds willpower and endurance.
- By focusing awareness on the image of the sun, on the flow of the body through the movements, and the mantras, it strengthens the meditative aspect of the mind, increasing the ability to focus and concentrate the mind.
As the mantra says…
For those who salute the sun every day,
life expectancy, conscious, strength, courage and vital power shall grow.
“ādityasya namaskāran ye kurvanti dine dine
āyuḥ prajñā balam vīryam tejasteśān ca jāyate”
In this traditional hatha yoga flow there are 12 mantras for the 12 postures, calling on the different qualities of the Sun.
In an age where the sun has come to be feared by many as a cause for cancer and aged skin, it is refreshing to remember the sun as the “giver of light”, “stimulator”, “remover of disease” (do you remember that the sun is a sterilizing agent?), “nourisher” and “cause for change”.
Apart from reflecting on the sun’s attributes, calling these names is also a reminder of the principle “as above so below”. Draw it inside. What parts of you are reflected in the sun?
For example in the first mantra we call the name Mitra(ya), which represents the “Divine friend”, “Lord of compassion”, “one who is affectionate to all”.
The sun shines its rays for all to receive.
It doesn’t judge or discriminate between good or bad, worthy or unworthy.
It shines light for everyone. All we have to do is step into the light to receive the sun’s unconditional gifts.
So we can be in the world.
When you align with your purpose, you can “shine your light”.
You can give your gifts to the world freely and fully.
You don’t even have to worry about how they will be received. Your job finishes at being who you are.
It’s up to the receiver to determine if they want to receive your light or not.
Sun Salutation Mantra Translations:
See more about Sun Salutations at these Websites:
Or in these Books:
Swami Satyananda Saraswati – Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.
Lucy Lidell – The Sivananda Companion to Yoga.
~ Namaste ~
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