Saluting the Sun, Honoring the Moon
“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.
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?
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!
Mysteries of the Human Heart
“The human heart has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed.” — Charlotte Brontë
The human heart, the size of two adult fists, is mysterious, intelligent, powerful, and sometimes inexplicable. The Egyptians believed that Anubis, the god of the underworld and judge of the dead, weighed the hearts of the recently deceased against a feather — if the two balanced, the heart would be returned to owner. If the heart was heavier, it was weighted by bad deeds and fed to a monster.
Heart as Ruler of the Brain
Aristotle considered the heart as the center of reason, thought, and emotion, senior to the brain in importance. Ninth century Arabic philosopher Abu Nasr al-Farabi believed that, “The ruling organ in the human body is the heart; the brain is a secondary ruling organ subordinated to the heart.” Auguste Comte, a 19th century French philosopher declared that the brain should be servant to the heart.
“The most common denominator in all religions is that the heart is the seat of wisdom,” said Rollin McCraty Ph.d, director of research at the groundbreaking HeartMath Institute in Santa Cruz, CA. Twelfth century Christian mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, would agree. She wrote, “The soul sits at the center of the heart, as though in a house.”