On moon days, I enjoy the rest the opportunity to do more meditation, chanting and worship at home. It feels like such a special gift for me to have the sunrise time for something other than asana practice. I like to watch the sunrise from a rooftop or porch or walk in nature.
In India, various deities have various prefered method of worship making their religious heritage so rich; for Surya, the Sun God, the preferred method of worship is physical prostrations accompanied by mantra. We no longer chant the mantra while making the prostrations, but we do actually keep the number of vinyasa that is associated with the mantra.
Surya namaskara (sun salutations), addressed in yesterday’s post, is the opening of my asana practice every day, and the first thing taught to new students in Ashtanga. It is said to be the foundation of the entire method of Ashtanga.
This same method of moving and breathing remains the same throughout all the series. The name and form are exactly the same, but, I suspect, the meaning continues to change and develop and deepen.
Pattabhi Jois was very enthusiastic about the practice of surya namaskara. In the booklet entitled ‘Surya Namaskara’, he calles the Sun ‘the health minister’, and the ‘illuminator of the intellect’. He states the importance of bhaavana, or directing our energy to being, in the sense that the Individual Self is in union with the Universal Self. I take that to mean that in my sun salutations every morning, I am renewing my living connection with God.
“Without its focusing of mental energies, yoga practice amounts to little more than gymnastics and, as such, loses meaning and proves fruitless. Indeed, the surya namaskara should never be mistaken for mere physical exercise – for something incidental, that is, that simply precedes the asanas of yoga.” (p.11)
om shri suraya namah