Surya Devata

Jun 21, 2023


One of the more intriguing gifts I ever received from a student was a small, bright yellow melon given to me at the end of a one-day retreat. She shared that she chose it because it reminded her of an inner sun. That’s what she was feeling after our day of practices.

I can relate to her experience. Perhaps you can too. Just as sun’s brilliance brings light, energy, illumination, and power to the outer world, postural practice can help us to cultivate and generate those very qualities within ourselves. We may often feel lighter, invigorated, more energized, and refreshed, almost as if we are lit up from inside, because of our practices.

If we look at the historical development of yoga, many questions remain unanswered. However, what we do know is that yoga evolved from the Vedic tradition and has its foundations in Vedic culture. 

This tradition was founded upon a worldview that honored and invoked the natural elements, utilizing rituals and offerings to seek blessings for harmony, equilibrium, and abundance in the natural realm.

Surya Devata, the sun god, is the most ancient deity honored in the Vedic tradition.

Over time, the external rituals gradually became internalized, as the notion arose that human beings encapsulate the energies of nature within us in a microcosmic form.

Thus, reverence for the sun transmuted into reverence for the sun within. Practices arose that invoked and harnessed the sun’s vitalizing power and radiance on an internal, experiential level.

This relates to the fundamental teaching of yoga - that within each human being resides a luminous core, an essence sometimes called the atman, or the Self. It’s said to contain incredible radiance akin to the light of 1,000 suns. Yet, in our human experience, this inner light gets obscured and clouded over. We get disconnected from it. The practices of yoga serve to clear away the cloud cover and reveal the luminosity of the Self. This is the experience of the inner sun this student shared.

Isn’t it affirming and exciting to have one’s experiences in yoga put into context by applying the wisdom of the tradition?

It’s the week of the Summer Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a great time, wherever you live, to consider how yoga helps to unveil your inner light, bringing forth encouragement and vibrancy, and restoring our connection to our luminous spirit again and again.


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