Why Do We Bow To The Sun?
I have always loved them. They offer up such a complete and wholesome mind-body-spirit workout we should probably all be doing them every morning. Perhaps some of you do. But have you ever wondered why the ancient yogis came up with sun salutations in the first place? Why in the world do we even bow to the sun?
It is said that sun salutations began in Vedic times as a means of welcoming the dawn of morning. This means that the creation of the sequence of the sun salutation would have taken place over 2,500 years ago. Most likely, it also included various chants and mantras, water libations and edible offerings like rice and edible flowers. Of course, like all yoga practices, the sun salutation has no doubt evolved over the years, but it does continue to keep its sacred essence in relation to the intention behind the circular flow of postures.
SEE ALSO: How Yoga Empowers Women
Harness energy from this mighty ball of fire
The sun salutation, also known as surya namaskar, is a beautiful set of yoga poses that give reverence to that almighty ball of blazing fire in the sky: our beloved sun. Namaskar means ‘to bow,’ while surya means ‘sun.’
Sun salutations are believed to harness the life-giving energy of the sun, while also providing us with a yoga sequence of postures that calm the mind, stretch and tone the body, and even strengthen the heart. Surya namaskar is a lot like a moving prayer to the sun. We inhale and raise our arms to the heavens. We exhale and bow down to dearest Mother Earth. Sun salutations are beautiful, fluid movements that honor all the earthy, watery, airy elements of nature. And when we do them, we remind ourselves just how precious our planet truly is.
Align yourself with nature
The ancient system of yoga has always been about aligning with the divine connection we have to the ongoing rhythms of nature. Moving and breathing as we honor life on Earth is one powerful and practical way to get in touch with this divine connection every, single day. At the end of one full round of sun salutation, we bring our arms into prayer, honoring that our hearts are at the very center of this divine connection between ourselves and Mother Universe.
Ancient yogis have been honoring the sun through surya namaskar for thousands and thousands of years, and Sri Pattabhi Jois once said that no yoga practice is complete without sun worship. Why? Because ancient sages believed the sun to be the heart of the universe. They viewed the sun as the creator of the Earth and all its creatures. They created sun salutations as a means to realize that the outer sun, is one and the same as our very own inner sun (our heart center), and through the moving prayer practice, we remind ourselves of this each morning.
Receive mother nature’s intelligence
When we connect our heartspace (the seat of higher consciousness and eternal wisdom) to that powerful sun energy, we can draw into ourselves this higher energy consciousness. Sun salutations can actually be a way to receive intelligence from Mother Earth herself. Set that as your intention the next time you set foot onto your sticky mat for a nice round of sun salutes.
Did you know that in the ancient language of Sanskrit, there are twelve words for ‘sun’? It’s true! And coincidentally, there are exactly twelve poses within the sun salutation. Pretty cool, huh? Another cool thing about sun salutations is that they are done successively. Once you finish one round, another round begins. This circular motion mimics the circular shape of the sun and the cycles of day and night. The ancient yogis created their practices to sync up with nature’s vast intelligence. They were wise beyond belief.
Benefits of sun salutations
The benefits of the 12 postures of the sun salutation, linked to the breath, are huge. They lengthen, strengthen, tone, extend, and flex several different areas of the body. They also help circulate prana (life force energy) throughout the interior of the body. Sun salutations help keep the spine strong and supple, which is said to promote longevity. Anyone who wants to prevent chronic back pain that often comes with age should do sun salutations regularly.
Sun salutations are also great for alleviating stress and anxiety, as the linking of breath with continuous movement tends to calm the mind and balance the nervous system. Sun salutations are an ideal warm-up for any type of exercise. If you’re about to set out on a run, a hike, a swim, a bike ride, or a vigorous yoga practice, several rounds of sun salutes will warm up almost every part of the body. They’ll also help focus your mind to help your mental fortitude for more enduring exercise regimens.
And if you’re really ambitious, do 108 rounds of sun salutations, to truly connect to the Divine.
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