I was just getting ready to step up on the scale at the doctor’s office, when the fire alarm sounded.
You know how sometimes when a sound totally unrelated to you happens just at the same time that you move and can make you feel like you caused the sound? Is it just me? Well, I had just taken my arm out of my jacket, sweeping it past the alarm, which was above the scale. I jumped, thinking maybe I set it off!
Once I recovered from thinking I had caused a major fiasco, the nurse and I looked at each other and mused about whether it was a drill or not. Pretty soon others in the office started ushering us out. It was the real deal.
We all gathered on a grassy island away from the building, and after the initial confusion, many of us looked towards the building for signs of smoke, flames, or the signal we could return. Eventually, the firetrucks arrived.
The people who knew each other were chatting away about this, that, and the other.
I, on the other hand, checked my e-mail. Nothing new since the last time I checked it right before taking off my jacket to get on the scale and thinking I set off the alarm. I looked at the clock, and it was 20 minutes after my appointment was supposed to start. I was feeling kind of grrr, because it’s not like I had brought a bunch of work I could do while I was there waiting. So, I started scrolling.
I was having a hard time seeing the screen because the sun was shining so brightly from just above and behind the building. It was a clear, beautiful winter day, and even with sunglasses on, I was squinting.
Just as I was about to turn my back to the sun, I started to feel it. The warmth. The light. The softening. That I-just-took-a-sip-of-something-yummy feeling. That I’ve-come-home-comfy-cozy sensation that only the sun can offer.
The sun is a super important symbol in yoga. When you practice postures, you’re doing Hatha yoga. “Ha” means sun and “tha” means moon in the ancient language of yoga known as Sanskrit. Together, Hatha yoga has become widely known as the yoga of balance, between the sun and moon, masculine and feminine aspects of yourself, your right and left sides, and the energizing and calming energies within you, among other things.
In Sanskrit the sun goes by many different names, based on the various roles that it plays in our lives, such as the ultimate and ever-present friend of all, the one who nourishes us by growing our food and giving us Vitamin D, and the one who lights up the world around us so we can see. There are 12 mantras or affirmations to honor the sun for these gifts (more on these another time).
It’s no wonder that one of the first things you learn in class often is Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations.
Surya Namaskar is a beautiful, energizing, and warming series of postures that alternate between bowing to the sun in gratitude and looking up to it for direction.
But how often do you think of these things when you practice Sun Salutations? You might be just trying to keep up with your instructor, worried about whether your pants are see-through, or side-glancing at that new person to your left who can put her head AND heels on the floor in downward dog.
When we stop comparing ourselves to others and thinking that we’re not enough and start really honoring the sun as we practice, the movement of Surya Namaskara can be transformative. One of my students once told me she felt like she was being reborn when she did Surya Namaskara with me in this focused, reverent way.
My teacher from India, Jehangir Palkhivala, often prescribes practicing Surya Namaskara in the sunlight. We did so on a rooftop during a retreat in India. There’s nothing like that feeling of the sun warming your skin as you practice Surya Namaskara to bring joy and light to your heart.
Now, it’s the middle of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, and you might be laughing at the thought of practicing on the rooftop in the sun when you’re getting ready for the latest Snowmageddon or rain storm. If that’s the case, even just meditating on the light of the sun can have a profoundly uplifting, calmly energizing affect. After all, it’s still there, even if you can’t see it through the blizzard and the clouds. Isn’t that fact alone simply amazing? The sun never really goes away. We just can’t see it for a little while.
So, whether you’re freezing in the northern hemisphere or enjoying the beach in the southern half of the world, I’ve recorded a quick little meditation to bring the sun’s warmth to your heart today.
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That day outside the doctor’s office, I put my phone away and turned to the sun. A smile erupted on my face, as I chanted one of the sun mantras to myself and soaked up the glow instead of trying to avoid it to “get something done.” I let go of that feeling that unless I’m running to get everything done, I’m not good enough or I’ll fall behind everyone else. Instead, I let the light of the sun warm my face and my heart. I let it remind me that I am provided for, nourished, and loved. When it came time to go back into the doctor’s office (it was a false alarm, of course), I was able to meet the appointment and the rest of my day with more kindness, warmth, endurance, and energy, after just a few minutes of connecting with the sun.
Speak Your Truth
What do you love about the sun? What happens for you when you let the light and warmth of the sun into your heart? What are you thankful to the sun for providing? Are you more of a moon person instead? Let me know in the comments!
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