‘It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold... when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.' Charles Dickens
I have definitely been so aware of the warmth of the sun over recent days, of its power and brilliance, and I am also aware that we are in the period of the full moon as I write! I am no astrophysicist, but I fully appreciate that these two celestial bodies are of huge importance to life on earth. Moreover, I have some understanding and knowledge of the ancient science of yoga which acknowledges the impact which both the sun and the moon have on our lives.
We have many energy channels, or nadis, within us (and here I am talking about our energy bodies of course). The 3 main channels are called ida, pingala and sushumna and they align with our spine, intertwining and and where they meet, a chakra or energy centre is created. The pingala nadi carries the flow of active energy and is directly related to the energy of the SUN whilst ida nadi carries the flow of passive energy and relates to the MOON.
You may be aware that the left hemisphere of the brain is the area where we analyze, think logically, develop our mathematical and linguistic skills. The correct functioning of this hemisphere is stimulated by the pingala nadi. The right hemisphere is where we process creativity, where imagination flourishes, where we enjoy music... and it is stimulated by the ida nadi.
How can we describe the energy of the Sun?
Dynamic... powerful... passionate... strong... masculine... motivating... active
And what about the energy of the Moon?
Creative... calming... feminine... soothing... mysterious... passive
So it is very important that we have an awareness of these energies within us and that we aim to keep them in balance. Too much fire and heat can be damaging to ourselves and those around us! Too much passivity, on the other hand, may render us useless!!
When we succeed in bringing these energy flows into balance they can have a powerful effect upon both our physical and mental health, helping us to come into our true centre.
Naturally our yoga practices can help us once we have identified which energy needs enhancing or balancing. The classic pranayama, or breathing technique which we call upon to bring us into balance is ...
Nadi Sodhanam, the alternate nostril breath:
you may want to blow your nose!...
Placing your right thumb on your right nostril, with the middle finger resting on your forehead...
Breathe in through the left nostril, place the ring finger and/or little finger on the left nostril, pause, and then release the thumb and breathe out through the right nostril. Pause. Breathe in through the right nostril, place the thumb on that nostril, pause, release the ring finger and breathe out through your left nostril.
Continue with this process, possibly introducing a count of four to each inhalation and exhalation.
If you feel any sense of panic, light headedness or discomfort, do not continue, simply remove your fingers and breathe gently.
So it is also a useful tip to understand that simply by breathing in and out through the left nostril we can be easily soothed and calmed, whereas if we need a quick wake up, breathing in and out of the right nostril will help!
Obviously to work really effectively with solar energy we need a dynamic asana practice and so for thousands of years yogis have been practising versions of surya namaskara, the sun sequence, to ensure a great start to the day. Here is a link to the Dru Sun sequence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf3aluiDZhA
There are other Dru sequences which are also perfect for working with solar energy, particularly the Dru Power, the Inner Fire and the Vitality sequences. There are plenty to choose from.
However, to work with our lunar energy we need to have a more gentle asana practice and the classic one from the Dru repertoire is Chandra Namaskara, the Moon sequence, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g-f22dROF8
A beautiful posture from this sequence is Makarasana, the Crocodile posture, which can be immensely calming, especially if we have been angered or frustrated. We simply take ourselves into the posture and focus our awareness down to the lower abdomen, notice the breath moving the abdomen and consciously release any negativity on each exhalation.
And here is a simple sitting technique to bring you into balance:
Practise Nadi Sodhanam, alternate nostril breath, for a few rounds (or simply bring your awareness to the breath).
Now take your awareness down to the solar plexus, noticing the gentle rise and fall of the abdomen. Begin to visualise a bright golden light shining there, like the midday sun giving off its vibrant rays. Allow the rays to slowly spread into your whole torso, into your legs, arms and head. Bask in this radiant, warming, energising light.
Now direct and hold your awareness to the space between your eyebrows, and let the radiant light slowly change to a softer, cooler light, like the light of the moon. This light expands into your head calming all thoughts, soothing all concerns.
Finally allow your awareness to drop down gently into your chest, to your heart. Feel a soft, radiant light in your heart. Allow it to radiate wherever it wishes to go, maybe filling you with gentle radiance and beginning to surround you with this soft, gentle radiance.
Gradually become aware of the rise and fall of your sternum and your ribcage as you connect once more to your breath and to your physical body.
Come out of this in your own time, when you feel ready.
Two more very simple practices take us outside into the fresh air and therefore into more direct contact with these celestial bodies...
During the day stand in tadasana facing the sun with your eyes closed and feel the sun’s rays shining down on to your face and body, particularly your eyes and your solar plexus centre. Fill up with this radiant energy for good health. If you like mantras you could repeat OM SRI SURYA NAMAHA
Similarly, at night stand in tadasana and take your gaze to the moon, close your eyes if you prefer, allow the soft, cool light to wash over and through you. A mantra which you may like to use is, Om Shram Shreem Shraum Sah Chandramasay Namah.