As I write this, today is the Spring Equinox. Many people don't even celebrate it. They do in Sweden. The summer solstice is the most fun there. It is an experience to be with Swedes when they celebrate the longest day of the year all over the country. It was while I lived in Sweden that I began to understand how important the Sun really is, because it is so dark there for so many months. Having grown up in Laguna Beach, California, the light was taken for granted. I didn't do so well with the darkness though. It was necessary to leave when the Sun began its hibernation and many entered their seasonal depression. My mother had a second home in the Canary Islands, where I was fortunate enough to spend many winters and not be forced to endure the lack of sunlight. It's tough when the sun never comes up. But for midsummer, the sun never goes down. Getting back to the Sun Salutation now, one can find thousands of glossaries online that translate Sanskrit into English, but I prefer to use the definition of Suryanamaskara that Sri Aurobindo gives: “surya—sun: The sun of knowledge which is the very body and blaze of the light of the Truth; Surya—the Vedic sun-god, the Lord of Light and Truth of whom the solar energy is the physical form. Namaskara = salutation with hands joined.” Native Americans have always saluted the Sun with reverence. Think of this when you are in one of the poses for the Sun Salutation. It's a powerful experience if you allow yourself to feel it.
The Sun and SkinThe Sun is vital to everyone's health. With all the scary news about skin cancer, it's still important to get sunlight on a daily basis. Wear a hat when it's really bright, but let the rest of your body feel the sun for 20 minutes a day. I read online that there is a new theory now being tested that believes the sun can fight cancer, in addition to causing skin cancer. This is because “most of us get 75% of our Vit. D through exposure to the sun. Vit. D helps the body absorb calcium, which in turn can fight cancer. It's an interesting new line of research that may help people balance the effects of sunlight. Since the cancers that Vit. D may help fight are much more deadly than skin cancer, sunlight may have more benefits than the risks in moderation.” I also read that skin cream containing either 8% glycolic acid or 8% lactic acid (in any drugstore) seems to partially reverse sun damage to your skin. Personally, I can't use most of the products in a drugstore because of the chemicals used to manufacture them, but if you can find these in natural products, hooray!
Before you get to the next page with all the scientific Web sites about the sun, here are some of the fun items I found while doing research on the sun. One million Earths could fit inside the Sun, with room to spare. That is a daunting thought one cannot even comprehend. Many of the facts about our universe seem unbelievable, but as I have included one of my favorite quotes by Einstein on this site (in What is Yoga? for one): “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” “The next of the heavenly bodies is the centre of all, the Sun ... the heart of the system; he harmonizes all, energizes all, orders all. His is the courage and energy which is the source of all the other lesser forms of motion, and it is because of this that in himself he is calm. They are planets; he is a star. “For him all planets come; around him they all move, to him they all tend. It is this centralization of faculties, their control, their motivation, which is the Niyama of the Sun. He is not only the heart but the brain of the system; but he is not the 'thinking' brain, for in him all thought has been resolved into the beauty and harmony of ordered motion.” —Alister Crowley “Bask in the sun. Expose your body to the rays of the sun for a short time daily. This is heliotherapy or sun treatment. Sun is the source of energy and power. You will derive energy and power from the sun. Just as one sun is reflected in all pots of water, so also the one Supreme Being is reflected in all human beings. “Close your eyes. Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, splendor in the moon, glory in the stars, beauty in the sky.” —Swami Sivananada
SUNNINGHere is a method to release tension in your eyes and body. Sunning allows you to receive and enjoy the hygienic benefits of bright sunlight without the strain of squinting.
- Begin by closing your eyes gently.
- Now face the sun and turn your head smoothly from side to side, letting the sun bathe your closed eyelids.
- Relax and welcome the light.
- As you turn your head back and forth, feel the alternation between lightness and darkness.
- After amout a half-minute of sunning, cover your eyes with both palms and rest until any after-images disappear.
- The best time for sunning is early in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low on the horizon, and you don't have to strain your neck to see it.