FOCUS OF THE WEEK: SALUTING THE SUN (SEP 22 / 13)

Sun salutation Sun Head

Most of us serve our ideals by fits and starts. The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication. ~ Cecil B. De Mille

On July 12, 2006, the wind of war blew once more, disrupting our “make believe” calm and steady lives. Call it denial, disbelief or fantasy but I, like the rest of the Lebanese community knew we would carry on facing political changes and upheavals regularly, but solidly believed that we would not find ourselves engaged in a cycle of killings, bombings, destruction and forced exiles ever again. Providence of course had other plans, we weren’t quite done yet and were now forced to deal with this devastating shock wave, pull our “war” reflexes out of the attic and relive the despicable fear of a life without tomorrows. Seriously guys? 30 years weren’t enough? How redundant! I thought.

Given how bad the situation was, I had been holding up relatively well. Positively fueled by the desire to help people cope the best that they could by reminding them to breathe or getting them to see that peace was really inside of them, my main focus remained on teaching. I frantically hopped from one place to the other, drove hours with little gas in my tank often doubtful that I would make it to destination, slept away from home a great deal and basically had very little time to process all that was happening around me. So naturally after a sustained steady 30 days of this unwavering rhythm something had to give: my inner light switched off. I felt the sadness of the entire world and cried every chance I got. It was obvious at this stage that I too, had been displaced away from my center dangerously squatting my darkest place.

Why can’t everyone practice yoga? Why did I ever come back to this nut house ? were my two favorite opposing mantras these days. One was selfless, the other selfish, both a clear indication of the contradicting thoughts and conflicting feelings churning in my head and heart.

On the 3rd day of this ravaging blitz taking place inside of me, I realized I was of no use if I remained in such a state and decided it was time to shake it off, my gloom and doom had to end right here, right then. In order for that to happen, I knew no other way than to use my body, my sweat and most of all my intention. The war had been ongoing for 33 days and so I laid my mat down and dedicated 33 sun salutations to the end of the people’s suffering, anyone and everyone was welcome within my intention. By the end of the sequence, I was back in business, positive and hopeful that my efforts would make a difference. This cathartic practice jolted me out of my sad and dark emotional basement and brought me back home. You can imagine how thrilled the Sun Salute hero in me was, as I woke up the very next day to the news that the seize fire had gone into effect.

Sun Salutations offer a holistic experience that promotes physical, mental, emotional as well as numerous spiritual benefits. The obvious advantage is in the workout they provide to the muscles, the joints, the ligaments and the skeletal system as they also improve posture, flexibility and balance. They stimulate the cardiovascular system and strengthen the heart, they give the digestive, the nervous, the respiratory and endocrine systems something to remember.

Mentally they teach us to concentrate and as I like to think they are an excellent alternative to caffeine and other stimulants or antidepressants. The practice energizes and relaxes all at once and consistently performed, relieves tension, anxiety, manages stress and kisses depression bye bye.

Energetically, they provide a moving meditation effect by means of the breath initiating the movement, creating one seamless and continuous sequence. The breath draws you in and out of each pose without interruption. There are no beginnings, no ends, only continuations. The first time I understood the depth of a Sun Salute was in David Life’s class. This is what he said: “The sun doesn’t move abruptly from 1:oo o’clock to 2:00 o’clock boom to 3:00 o’clock, the sun never stops. The flow of the sun is uninterrupted just like the flow of our breath guiding the movement should be”

Most importantly however is the spiritual impact Suryanamaskars (sun salutes in sanskrit) have on our soul. They grant us endless opportunities to align our intentions and hearts with the rest of the planet just as I did on August 13, 2006. They are a sweet dedication of our efforts and a humble adoration of the light that emanates from the sun, believed to be a reflection of the light that emanates from our own hearts. When you draw your hands back into “namaste” you feel a softening and a humility from the expression of the gesture. The same humility is meant to be expressed through this sacred prayer to the sun. When we are able to contemplate the vitality we receive from the elements (water, air, fire and earth) as we move through the sequence, we reach a whole new level of depth in our yoga practice. And when we sweep our arms up then bow our body down, we are actually honoring the sky, the earth and all of life in between that is nourished by the cycle of breath.

Will someone please explain this simple concept to world politicians and stupid warmongers?

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