The human body reflects nature’s rhythms. Most people tend to be more active during the day and more sedentary during the night. Our biological blueprint leans this way. It follows that our practice should try to honor these natural rhythms as well. The word HATHA consists of two aspects: HA, meaning Sun and THA, meaning moon. We have periods in the day where we tend to operate more mentally and periods when we tend to operate more physically. Mental functions are associated with the moon while physical and vital functions are associated with the life-giving power of the sun. Yoga is about balancing and uniting these complimentary energies. Balancing the solar and lunar energies through the day brings harmony to our mind and body, allowing us to spontaneously experience meditative states.
So, how can we bring this harmony into our asana (physical) practice? Generally speaking, the morning practice should be more invigorating, helping us bring alertness to the body and mind, invoking the solar qualities of strength, vitality and radiance. The evening practice should be slower, calmer and more introspective in nature summoning the lunar qualities of contentment (santosha), receptivity, flexibility and grace, allowing us to rest the mind and body, preparing it for sleep. Include core strengthening asanas along with several rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) in the morning. Tap into Pranayama (breathing exercises), slower-paced Chandra Namaskar (moon salutations), inversions, forward bends and longer stretches in the evening to calm the central nervous system. Be sure to include meditation at both times. The morning meditation helps set the tone for the day. The evening meditation gives us an avenue to let go of the day. Tap into the body’s inherent intelligence to guide choices in life and during practice. When we start tuning into our physical and emotional sensations, we can start guiding our practice to balance our energy better. Asana, when practiced with this level of awareness, truly starts to benefit us at a holistic level and leaves us feeling balanced and harmonious.
The below meditation can help bring attention to our physical and emotional state, empowering our practice with inner knowing.
- Sit in a comfortable position and start to take deep breaths in.
- Focus your attention on your breath for 5 minutes.
- Now shift your focus to your mind and notice how your mind feels – determine if you are in a calm state or if the thoughts are pouring in.
- Rest in this awareness for a few moments.
- Return your attention to your breath and continue to focus on your breath for a few minutes.
- Now, progressively scan your body and take note of comfort and discomfort in your body.
- Rest in this awareness for a few moments .
- Take a few deep breaths in and sigh loudly as you exhale.
- You are now ready to begin your asana practice.
- Observe the sensations in your body as you move through the poses. Notice the inner dialog.
The word yoga means “unity” within and with all that surrounds us. Integrating the mind and body while honoring the rhythms of the universe takes our practice to this higher level of unity. More than anything, yoga is about feeling good. In this path, honor inner intuition, follow the heart and embrace all experiences.
Wishing you peace and happiness.