Saluting the Sun – How to live in Harmony with Nature
“In the old days, people would wake up in the morning, bow down to mother Earth and then, facing the sun, they would chant prayers and perform Surya Namaskarah. The whole time they were praying; they were exposed to the rays of the rising sun” -AMMA
It was an idyllic time. They lived life in communion with Nature and her rhythms. People understood the context of their lives within the whole creation. Their routine was constant awareness and worship. Their lives existed in harmony with the cycles of the universe. Because of this, people lived healthy lives.
We no longer live this way. We fall out of bed, grab a coffee and jump in our car. We live stressful, fragmented lives. We think there is no alternative way to live. Amma encourages us to regain our balance with nature. She gives us the tools to regain our health by connecting with Creation. One of them is Yoga, a holistic tool to heal ourselves and our planet.
What is Surya Namaskarah?
Surya Namaskarah is one of the oldest and popular asana sequence. Surya means Sun and Namaskarah means ‘salutations’. The Sun or Lord Surya represents the Universal Supreme Consciousness that illuminates everything. By saluting the sun, we offer reverence to this Consciousness. It is the underlying creative principle in us and in all of creation. Surya Namaskarah is a complete sadhana or spiritual practice. It incorporates many aspects.
1 – asana (a posture performed with awareness)
2 – pranayama (awareness of the natural breath and the movement of energy in the body)
3 – mantra (a sacred sound chanted aloud or internally to purify the mind)
4 – bhava (a sacred mood with a divine feeling) and
5 – dhyana (a meditation practice is an attempt to reach a natural state of deep awareness.)
The sequence of asanas is very auspicious. They reflect the rhythms of the universe and the biorhythms of our bodies.
Exercise and Sunlight
Amma spoke about the benefits of Yoga on the first International Day of Yoga on June 21st 2015. She continues to talk on the benefits of yoga and a healthy lifestyle during all of her tours. She explained the health benefits of regular exercise and sunlight. Surya Namaskarah in the morning sun helps cure diseases caused by Vitamin D deficiency: “In many countries, six or seven out of ten people have Vitamin D deficiency. Studies show how a Vitamin D deficiency may be one of the factors for Alzheimer’s disease. It is also linked to other types of dementia. Vitamin D deficiency is also thought to be a cause of depression. Countries that have less sunlight have a higher incidence of depressive disorders. Yoga helps reduce our cholesterol and maintains our cardiac health. It increases our bone strength. This is especially important as the incidence of arthritis and osteoporosis is on a steep rise. It even helps improve our memory power.”
Amma said it is important to do balanced exercise for at least ten minutes a day: “We also need at least 10 minutes of sun exposure per day. These days, we go from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned cars and straight to an air-conditioned office. We have little exposure to our natural environment. Some people tell Amma that they bought a $50,000 car for their child to drive two miles to a gym. They spend more than 1,000 dollars a year for gym membership. This sounds funny, but it is quite common. It would be much more productive to walk to the gym. If people could walk outside for at least a mile or two they wouldn’t need to spend all that money. They would get the same, if not more exercise. Walking in a park would give them fresh air and exposure to sunlight. All in all, they would be healthier. They would also conserve petrol/diesel and reduce harmful emissions. This is a great way to protect the environment. Too much of anything is also a problem. So many people in tropical countries suffer from heat stroke and skin cancer. So, we need to create a balance.”
Amma also said that yoga creates physical beauty- the kind that purifies us: “Yoga creates powerful spiritual vibrations. These vibrations affect us positively, as well as others. It is like entering a perfume factory. Even after emerging, the sweet fragrance will remain on our body, pleasing both to others and us. When we perform yoga with complete awareness, it purifies each and every cell in our body.”
Amrita Yoga Classes, Workshops and Retreats
Amma has shown her commitment to preserving the tradition of yoga. She has made it accessible to everyone. All Amrita institutions teach Amrita Yoga. This includes primary, secondary, and university-level educational institutions. Amrita Yoga is taught at her various centers and satsanga groups around the world. Amrita Yoga holds special Kids and Youth Retreats. Amrita Yoga holds retreats at Amritapuri Ashram for Indians and Internationals. You can read about our Teen Retreat here:
Amrita Yoga has a wonderful form of Surya Namaskarah for children from age 3 up to teenagers. It incorporates a fun prayer to Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman is a beloved deity amongst children in India. This playful monkey god’s guru was Lord Sun himself! Surya Namaskarah symbolizes Lord Hanuman’s worship to Lord Surya. It is taught for Kids at Amrita Vidyalayam schools and at Amritapuri.
This is a fun way to introduce your children to yoga. Amrita Yoga teaches kids in a playful manner. Kids are engaged when they play. They are always in a natural and spontaneous state. This is the true goal of Yoga! Below is a link to Amrita Yoga Kid’s Programs:
Adults are also introduced to Sun Salutations at the Adult Retreats at Amritapuri. Amrita Yoga is the ancient form which goes deeper than asana practice. It combines Amma’s teachings and mantra. You can make it a daily sadhana practice. Check out our retreats and inquire here:
Practiced regularly, this sadhana will give us energy, strength and flexibility. Our connection to others and to all of nature will improve. Eventually, we will merge deeply into our spiritual essence and live in harmony with all of Creation. As Amma says: “The purpose of Yoga is for our inner well-being. It does not belong to any particular faith or religion. It was passed on to us by the ancient seers for the well-being of humanity. Yoga helps us to reconnect with nature and eventually become one with God.”