5 Compelling Reasons to Salute the Sun
When you were new to yoga, chances are one of the first things you enthusiastically learnt in class was the Sun Salutation. Remember the great high you got the first time you managed to perform the sequence correctly, without missing a beat? As you forayed deeper into the world of yoga, exploring its rich tapestry of asanas and pranayamas, it’s quite possible that Sun Salutations took a back-seat serving largely as a warm-up for your main yoga practice.
However, the easily discounted Sun Salutation can offer you so much more! Did you know that this wonderful sequence is an incredibly holistic and potent workout? In fact you could even consider making it the focal point of your home practice on certain days. Here are some facts which may shift your perspective and put the zing back into your Sun Salutations:
The Sun Salutation is a complete practice for mind, body and spirit. It is a scientifically designed yogic sequence containing asana, pranayama and meditation techniques, thereby working not only on the physical level but also at deeper, subtle levels. In fact, the contemporary sequence we know has its origins in the ancient Vedic period in India when the Sun was worshipped as a powerful symbol of health and immortal life. This connection to the Sun and all that it represents lies at the heart of the Sun Salutation – we can effortlessly harness this energy across all levels of our being if we bear this idea in mind while practicing.
The Sun Salutation comprehensively revitalizes the entire body quickly. The list of physical benefits is endless. To name a few: it keeps the spine supple and flexible, stretches and tones numerous muscles, improves circulation, respiration and elimination functions, tones the nerves, clears up the skin, makes the body leaner and keeps us looking and feeling younger! Being a complete workout, it is a great solution for hectic days when a full yoga routine is a challenge — six rounds of Sun Salutations can be your ten minute maintenance fix on such days.
The Sun Salutation plays the role of a ‘psychotherapist’. Just as a bright sunny day dispels darkness and gloom, performing Sun Salutations mindfully balances emotions, removes negativity and infuses positivity, calmness and hope. In fact the sequence is known to effectively heal distorted mental or emotional energies and is a great de-stressor. Even a few rounds of Sun Salutations done consciously with breath awareness will leave you feeling lighter in your heart and peaceful in your mind.
The Sun Salutation is a catalyst for steady spiritual transformation. Devised with the aim of bringing about spiritual awakening, the twelve individual postures are systematically woven together in a manner to generate prana, subtle energy, which purifies and rejuvenates. Not surprising then that the Sun Salutation becomes a graceful, dynamic meditation when performed mindfully and with breath awareness. Moreover, its efficacy is substantially magnified with the addition of chakra visualization and mantra chanting, making it a powerful and reliable tool for spiritual growth.
The Sun Salutation is responsive to varying needs and moods. Whereas a fast-paced morning workout may provide the much needed energy boost to kick-start the day, a slower rhythm could fulfill the need for restoration in the evening. Also, similar to a good friendship that evolves over time, your Sun Salutation practice can mature with you – for instance, you could build in more challenging variations to some of the individual postures as your body gains strength and flexibility. This will ensure that your relationship with this beautiful sequence remains vibrant and deeply satisfying over the years.
5 Kundalini Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life
I found myself asking again and again, what is this and how have I not known about these practices before?
Although my Vinyasa practice continues to be steady, for the past year, I have changed up my morning routine to include several new Kundalini morning rituals. These rituals don’t just make me feel great, but I am not exaggerating when I say that they have really changed my life. The bouts of depression and anxiety I used to experience, especially postpartum, have disappeared. Not only do I feel brighter and more radiant, but my mind is clearer. I’m more even-tempered. I see more. And I’m experiencing more success than ever.
Here are the five most powerful Kundalini morning rituals I do regularly, daily if possible. Although you’ll feel results immediately, it takes thirty to forty days of consistent practice to really start changing your life. And, believe me, it will change your life.
- Cold Showers: Although it was one of the hardest rituals to get used to, cold showers are now part of my daily routine. I start with dry brushing and then coat my body in coconut oil. Then I get under the cold water, allowing it to hit my face and chest. I’ve found that you can massage your body, from the soles of your feet to your shoulders and neck, to help keep you warm (and to give you something to do). Even just thirty seconds under the cold water will change everything. And, according to Guru Jagat, cold showers are one of the best practices for glandular health, anti-aging, increased energy, and mental alertness. They will also improve the condition of your skin – you really do “glow” afterward!
- Subagh Kriya: This powerful sequence takes about twenty minutes from start to finish. It is said to be an incredibly effective way to bring more abundance and prosperity to your life. The whole sequence is done seated and involves various hand movements and chanting. You can find videos of this sequence to follow along with online at first, but after a few times doing it, you’ll learn how to do it yourself. The impact this has had on my professional life is astounding. I never start my day without doing this practice.
- Breath of Fire: This is one of the most powerful practices I do. Designed to reset your glands and hormones, this pranayama technique brings your entire body back into balance. Although it is sometimes taught with only an emphasis on the exhale, in Kundalini, the emphasis is equal on both the inhalation and exhalation. It is a powerful, rapid breath through the nose, but it is sustainable. Most Kundalini teachers recommend you practice breath of fire for at least seven minutes to reap the most benefits.
- Sat Kriya: One of the most essential practices in the Kundalini technology system, Sat Kriya is a simple breath meditation that helps to energize your body and increase your radiance. To practice it, sit on your heels, bringing your arms overhead. Interlace your fingers and release the index finger, squeezing the palms together. As you pull your navel in powerfully, you mentally chant “Sat.” As you exhale and release the belly, you repeat, “Nam.” Just three minutes of this kriya can elevate your awareness and energy. I do this practice in the morning, but also throughout the day when I feel like I need a boost. If I need more after the first three minutes, I’ll keep adding more three-minute rounds until I feel ready to take on whatever is next in my day.
- Frog Pose: This simple exercise is a lot harder than it looks, which is why I love to do it in the morning – it makes me sweat! To begin, you start in a squat position with the knees wide and the heels up. As you exhale, you come to stand, looking towards your thighs. As you inhale, you look forward and return to the frog squat. You can go as fast or as slow as you like. I’ll do at least 26 of these each morning, although many times I’ll go for three or more minutes. Although your legs might shake, keep going! The energy that will flood your body when you’re done is amazing. And I’ve found it’s a great way to shift my mood quickly, too.
While much of Kundalini yoga will feel strange at first, especially if you are used to different styles of yoga, I’ve learned to love it. Not only are the results of Kundalini morning rituals astounding, but almost everything is accessible, which means I don’t have to “feel” like doing yoga to do it. And, because the practices are fast, there’s no excuse to add them to your morning routine!