It may be a rainy day here in NY but I've got sun on the mind. It happens to me every year -- the temperature gets warmer, the sun shines brighter, the days get longer -- and BAMMO, I'm in the throes of Spring Fever. My email goes unread, my to do list gets neglected, and phone calls aren't returned -- all are sacrificed as I step outside to play. This seems to be my little ritual (a self-indulgent one that tends to lasts for a few weeks) when saying goodbye to winter and welcoming the warmer season.
Around this time I like to invite the sun into my yoga practice, whether it's chanting the Gayatri or adding surya chants to simple arm movements to meditating on the sun. If you're ready to let the sun shine in your yoga practice, here are a few ideas:
The Gayatri Mantra
I love to chant the Gayatri first thing in the morning. Sometimes I even go out on my deck, sit in the sun, and chant gently to myself. It's a wonderful way to start the day. If you'd like a softer, more melodious version of the Gayatri, click here for a lovely version by Deva Premal and Miten.
Sun Salutations, while sometimes over-hyped, are also a wonderful way to honor the sun while stretching and strengthening the body. Click here for instructions on how to perform Sun Salutations with the appropriate chants.
Energize with Bija/Seed Mantras
When I find myself not wanting to practice Sun Salutations or if I'm in the mood for a simpler practice, I do this: From standing with feet hip width apart, I inhale the arms up from the front and when I bring my arms back down to my sides with an exhale I chant HRAM. I do the same thing with the following sounds: HRIM, HROOM, HRAIM, HRAUM, HRAH. I usually go through all 6 mantras about 3 times each. By the time I'm done I'm feeling energized and my body is feeling warm.
My favorite song to dance to when I've got the sun on my mind is Nurturing Source by Mark Whitwell. You can listen to this song in its entirety on the Heart of Yoga MySpace page. This is especially wonderful when I get up feeling a bit groggy and find myself resistant to getting on my yoga mat.
This simple meditation is a wonderful way to invite the qualities of the sun into your life.
- Start standing with feet together. In an inhale raise the arms from the side (palms come together at the top of the inhale) while simultaneously raising the heels off the ground. Exhale, lower the arms and the heels (start lowering the heels when your arms get to shoulder height). Repeat 4-6 times.
- Standing with feet hip width apart, inhale the arms up from the front and exhale with the chant HRAM. Repeat the movement with the sounds HRIM, HROOM, HRAIM, HRAUM, HRAH.
- Sit in a comfortable position (hands can rest on your knees or in your lap) and visualize the sun. Do this for 12 breaths.
- Bring your hands to anjali mudra. On an inhale raise the arms up from the sides and on an exhale bring the palms down in front of your body visualizing the sun's warmth penetrating your body. Repeat 6 times.
- Bring your hands back to anjali mudra. On an inhale reach the arms out to the side. On an exhale bring your hands to rest over your heart while visualizing that the quality that your needing from the sun (warmth, strength, power, fieriness, focus, etc.) permeates your body. Repeat this 6 times.
- Rest your hands back on your knees or in your lap. Inhale the qualities of the sun and exhale out the mouth with a sigh. Repeat 3 times.
- Rest quietly with regular breathing for 1-2 minutes.
Enjoy honoring the sun and inviting its warmth into your life!