Surya Namaskar: A Peace Project

As the sun starts to ebb toward the equinox, balanced for a moment’s time in the amount of light and dark we receive, I think of the ways that I have beheld this light with such gratitude–from my kitchen window or gazing out over ocean, the colors that illuminate the sky at dawn; the way that the dimming light shimmers through the tall trees in my yard; the remembrance of my children’s faces sparkling as they spin in the grass. Witnessing the way that the light comes and goes is an opportunity to be present with the miracle of life, to be present with our light, and to watch and feel the ways that we are also ebbing and shining light and darkness, sometimes equally.

Rosemary Swope, my dear friend in the current teacher training, gifted me her words for this month’s Peace Project. She has come to the teacher training later in life than many, and so she brings to the group a deep understanding of how to witness, watch, and place her attention on that which truly matters. It has been a gift to me to know her and to behold the practice through her.

Pawleys Island

Surya Namaskar, by Rosmary Swope

Every morning when the sky is not cloudy, I stand at my window and watch the sun rise. When it is cloudy, I am aware that behind the clouds this miraculous event is occurring. Sometimes there are streaks of color through the clouds, but always the sky turns lighter and lighter by the minute. No matter what is happening in my life, I feel gratitude and God’s presence at this daily miracle. Yoga has enabled me to slow down and be more aware of my connection to all life. Life—a divine gift—Life—all life on earth dependent on the sun. So, I, usually greet the morning by saluting the sun—begin my day by waking my body as the earth wakes with the rising sun. Surya Namaskara—Sun Salutation.

Although I have been doing this series of poses for many years, I have only fairly recently begin to learn to do it correctly. Realizing how beneficial yoga is to my health, I decided at age 73 to sign up for teacher training with Christa Mastrangelo. It has been in this forum that my understanding of and love of yoga has deepened and brought new strength along with understanding. Learning the correct positions and muscles to use helps prevent injures as well as making the poses more satisfying. Each teacher at Jala has helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together in each asana, but the concentrated study of the training with Christa has brought refinement and beauty to the whole. Surya Namaskara, I have learned, has many variations. I was only familiar with the classic version but in teacher training have learned Surya Namakara and Surya Namaskara B as well. Each version offers different benefits, but all bring energy and flexibility and a sense of humble appreciation.

Grounding through the feet to the earth, lifting with our hearts and arms stretched to the sky, we bow in respect and gratitude. I am grateful for this simple but complete series of poses that help me to waken my body and mind and be prepared for each day.