Saluting the Sun, Honoring the Moon

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“The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you.” – Vanna Bonta

If there is one thing about travel that really puts the ache in my bones, it’s being out of sync with the clock. The symptoms of such an imbalance can turn into a bad habit that zaps my energy and turns road-weary adventures into tropical torture.

So when I discovered the amazing yoga practice that has allowed me to sync with the waxing and waning of the moon as I trot merrily around the globe, I knew I had to share it with the world.

Most of the yoga classes I’ve been to have taught some form of hatha yoga, and it was in the balanced energies of this practice that I found my adventurer’s equilibrium. The word hatha is a combination of the Sanskrit words ‘ha’ and ‘tha’ which mean “the sun” and “the moon” respectively. And the literal translation of the word pays homage to “the force” that unites the two heavenly bodies.

For a traveler (or anyone sensitive to the changing of the seasons), there is a need to acknowledge these sources of light and transformation in a very real and physical way.

The Sun

Patterning your life around the rise and set of the sun is the most powerful way I know to overcome jet lag, deal with seasonal affective disorder, and really get to know the natural world you’re living in. On a recent trip to the Hridaya yoga retreat in Mexico, I was especially challenged to reset my inner clock when daylight savings time began three days into a 10-day silent meditation!

Here are a few things I do when I really need to kick-start that circadian rhythm:

Wake with the sun.

Even if you go back to bed for three more hours, take a few minutes to get up and see the sky beginning to lighten. Make a cup of tea, or sit and write down your dreams. For me, this is a great time to spend a few moments in meditation, setting my intentions for the day, then getting warmed up with some sun salutations.

Turn the screens off after dark.

The best way to get your stress under control and regulate your sleep patterns is to avoid sources of blue light after the sun goes down. Turn the cell phones and computers and TVs off. Eat dinner by candlelight if you want to go all in. Read with a lantern. Gaze at the stars. Enjoy the evening.

This simple change can completely reset the way your body deals with stress hormones, regulating your metabolism and helping you get better, more restful sleep. And if you can’t give up the screen for the enter twilight, install a program like Flux to limit your blue light exposure.

Spend some time outside.

If you burn easily, go for indirect sunlight for a spot in the shade, but do your best to get some real sunlight on your skin, get that surge of vitamin D and really breathe the warmth and strength of the sun into your solar plexus. Spend some time focusing on the projective powers of your body and mind. How do you show up in the world? What do you manifest?

The Moon

Don’t forget that there is more to your body’s cycles than your daily routine and the seasons of the year. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, controlling the tides, the energies of the lunar aspects turn inward and outward in an endless orbit.

Look outside to look inside.

One of the best ways to spend your evenings (now that they’re internet-free, right?) is to pay attention to the movement of the stars and the moon. Think about your introspective powers. How well do you know your own mind and emotions?

Wax and wane with the moon.

As the moon waxes, think about how you might grow certain aspects of your inner self. When the moon is full, celebrate those changes. A waning sliver represents a time to consider bad habits to break or old patters to leave behind. On the dark moon, we are reborn. Who do you want to be when the new moon appears again?

Incorporate the moon into your practice.

Bring these energies into your meditation and asana practice. Allow your mind to open to these two aspects of yourself as if they are two parts of your breath. Breathe in your intentions and desires, breathe out the force of your will to make it happen.

What practices do you use to get grounded in a new location or to get you in tune with the environment and the seasons in natural world around you?

Leave a comment or drop me a line and let me know!

Does Your Heart Have a Mind of Its Own?

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Until recently, modern science perceived the heart as merely a pump to regulate the flow of blood throughout our bodies. But across numerous cultures, the heart has historically been thought to have a much greater function that corresponds with our thoughts, emotions, and spirit.

When we speak or share feelings from a place of deep meaning or passion, we say we’re speaking from the heart or we’re trying to convey something that is heartfelt. This is no longer just an archaic maxim, but instead, one with factual backing. And science is now realizing that the heart and brain have more of a corollary, interactive relationship than previously thought … a relationship that has residual consequences on our bodies, and possibly even humanity as a whole.

Connecting Two Major Organs

The brain has typically been thought to be the control center for the body, sending directions through the nervous system to different organs, telling them how to behave. This is done through voluntary or involuntary action, like telling the heart to pump blood. But in reality, the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart, influencing emotions, memories, problem-solving, and high-level cognitive functions.

In fact, the heart has its own network of neurons. This network is so sensitive that our heart rhythms become highly ordered when we experience positive emotions, love, and joy. On the contrary, negative emotions and psychological activity cause erratic and jerky heart function, leading to inefficiency, lack of energy, and poor reasoning.

While massive fluctuations can shake up our energy and emotional levels, our heart rates already fluctuate very regularly, sometimes even every beat. Although these fluctuations are minute it shows just how sensitive our hearts are and how susceptible they are to change. These oscillations in our heart rate are called Heart Rate Variability or HRV.  HRV essentially measures the change in our heart rate with each beat. It is an effective way of being able to maintain and effect psychophysiological coherence or heart-brain coherence.

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