Solstice Salutations

Jun 19, 2024


Although my days of performing 108 Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar, are behind me, connecting with an inner source of vitality and light through my practices has never felt more crucial.

I vividly recall practicing Surya Namaskar on a vast, open field at dawn more than 20 years ago, during my time living in India. If you’ve done something like this, you know there’s nothing quite like it to align with the primal rhythms of the earth and the forces that sustain life on this planet.

Surya Devata, the Lord of the Sun, is the most ancient deity worshipped in the Vedic tradition that preceded yoga. Through rituals and hymns, the sun was honored as a sacred, life-giving power.

Over time, these external practices became internalized; reverence for the sun through outer rituals transformed into embodied worship. Practices emerged that invoked and harnessed the sun’s vitalizing power and radiance through direct experience. The body became the instrument for ritual offering, physical movements became prayers.

The prime example is Surya Namaskar. Originally a devotional practice, each posture of the traditional series was performed while reciting mantras. These sacred syllables were believed to unlock subtle energies within the body while praising the sun’s benevolent attributes with superlatives like “the friend of all,” “the singular particle of light,” and my personal favorite, “The Golden Egg which is the manifestation of Self-existence.”

While most modern postural yoga is a recent development, we can revive yoga’s devotional roots to fortify and invigorate our fundamental interconnection with the more-than-human world.

Today marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Wherever you live, it’s the perfect occasion to make your practice an offering to the inner and outer light, and to celebrate the luminous power of life that shines as brilliantly within you as it does in the sky.   


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