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!

Research Shows Gratitude Practices Lower Inflammation

Gratitude Lowers Inflammation

Researchers have uncovered the potential of a daily gratitude practice to heal the body and mind.

While research in the field of positive psychology has shown the clear benefits of positive attributes such as compassion and empathy, new studies suggest that gratitude may have the biggest effect of all.

Dr. Paul Mills has been studying the effects of gratitude as a professor at the University of California San Diego and as Director of Research at the Chopra Foundation.

“The way I define gratitude is, it’s a way of seeing the world with a sense of heartfulness; a sense of embracing-ness; a sense of appreciation for all that is being experienced. Typically people differentiate gratitude from thankfulness — it’s a response in exchange for something. Gratitude really, at its foundation, it’s more of a dispositional set where we walk around with gratitude for everything that’s going, just really the gift of life.”

Over the last several years, scientific studies into the psychological and physiological benefits of gratitude have grown exponentially.

“I think one of the main reasons that research on gratitude has taken off more than other areas that we typically could call positive psychology, is because the findings, the significance, in all the studies is so high and impactful. So many of the studies that have been looking at gratitude find more and more significant effects related to health and wellbeing.” 

Some of the more recent studies on gratitude have focused on the physiological benefits to the heart.

Read Article

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