(Originally published as a “Popular Lately,” “Featured Today Spirituality Highlight,” “Popular Yoga,” “Popular Wellness,” and “Popular Spirituality” article on Elephant Journal)
We celebrated a beautiful Vedic festival called Makar Sankranti on January 14th, 2017. This festival worships the Sun as it makes its northern ascent in the sky during the first six months of the year. It is considered an auspicious way to start your educational journey and to recommit to your health and spiritual goals for the year ahead.
So many traditional societies have revered the Sun for its magnificent qualities, including the ancient Egyptian, Aztec, Buddhist, Chinese, Christian, Baltic, and Greek cultures.
The Vedic Indian tradition honors the Sun as being the symbol of health, wealth, knowledge, inner power, and the illumination of your very soul.
I have always loved the Sun.
Even before I encountered Ayurveda, the Sun was a huge source of inspiration to me.
Sunrises and sunsets have always captivated my heart; it never ceases to amaze me how artistic the Sun is ~ every morning and evening, it creates a brand new art exhibition, totally free of charge and open to all.
I knew I was meant to study Ayurveda when I saw how much deeply it reveres the Sun, and how central a role following the Sun via Ayurveda’s lifestyle practices plays in giving us amazing health, or Aarogyam, at the physical level.
I struggled with eating disorders for a long time prior to coming to Vedika, with my mind unconsciously manifesting all kinds of problems for my body.
Since studying Ayurveda, my relationship with the Sun has really deepened. I have found the Sun to be the best possible anchor for my mind to plug into and thereby reclaim the power and strength of my own soul.
I love how my teacher taught at a spiritual retreat many years ago:
“The Vedas do not teach any version of being a ‘victim’ in any way; and nor will we complain about problems (big or small).
Rather, in the Vedic tradition, we build our innate soul power, face obstacles, and help resolve them for our self and others with devotion in our heart and the memory that I AM A POWERFUL BEING, like the SUN, like THE UNIVERSAL SOUL (ATMAN/BRAHMAN).
In our being, our soul empowers and activates the body and mind (which are otherwise inert), just like the Sun creates various seasons for the earth. The soul creates various situations (karmic seasons) for us, called Prarabdha, Niyati, Destiny, etc. Whatever we are experiencing is the result of our karma in the past; hence, to write our own destiny is solely in our hands.”
Through learning Ayurveda from a Vedic lineage extending back to ancient India, I feel I’ve had an incredible opportunity to transform my karma and really take health into my own hands.
Before Ayurveda, I searched everywhere for a solution to my eating disorders. I tried random “healthy diets,” read tons of self-help books, checked out therapists, and visited countless online forums on overcoming anorexia.
Every solution I found had its pluses, but they were all ultimately limited answers.
The random diets helped for some time, but then the same old symptoms would return again. Talk therapy was good, but it didn’t help me with my digestion. Even Yoga, the way I practiced it (with 70+ asanas per class) was unable to help me beyond a point, as it didn’t teach me what kind of lifestyle I needed to support my practice.
Since learning Ayurveda, years of seemingly intractable health problems subsided. I was finally able to overcome my eating disorders, a problem no one could help me with, despite how many places I searched.
Ayurveda also gave me tools to overcome years of digestive disturbances, insomnia, inexplicable pain, anxiety, and recurring acne. Some problems vanished quickly, within a couple weeks. Others took a little more time. But it has all been way more than worth it.
Health and knowledge are two of the powers of the Sun. It is thanks to following Ayurveda’s beautiful, Sun-filled path of health in my daily life that I’ve been able to transform my health.
Now, nothing gives me more satisfaction than sharing the wealth of health that Ayurveda offers with those of you who, like me, have searched everywhere for lasting health results. My students report 47% less pain, 46% better sleep, and 80% felt less stressed, among other powerful health outcomes.
Here are a couple ways you, too, can say yes to better health while embracing your soul power.
1. Gaze at the rising sun.
There is something deeply soothing to the soul about waking up early to watch the sun as it rises in the sky each morning. Before I started doing this, my mind used to be filled with painful memories, which caused my mental and subsequent physical suffering.
Watching the sun rise each morning is a powerful reminder to my soul about the power I have to rise above the darker situations I’ve experienced in my life, to identify only with the light I see in the sky. The sun is always there, even if we can’t see it. Our soul is like that, too. We can’t see it, but we have this incredible power deep inside our being that is always there to guide us and help us see the light in each and every situation.
Our mind can be our best friend or worst enemy. Welcome the sun’s presence into your life and allow the Sun, symbolizing your own soul, to inspire each of your actions for the coming day, so you can be guided by the light of your own highest consciousness to make choices that bring you abiding health and happiness.
2. Develop a relationship with the sun as you practice Sun Salutations.
You probably already know how Sun Salutations (known as Surya Namaskar in Yoga) have incredible health benefits. Did you know there are ways you can deepen those benefits?
You can mindfully cultivate a relationship with the sun as you practice your Sun Salutations in the morning. Even if you don’t currently have a Sun Salutation practice, you can stand tall, with your hands pressed in front of your heart, with your thumbs connected to your sternum. Connect your feet with the earth beneath you. Focus on your heart.
In the Vedic spiritual tradition, we revere the sun, first and foremost, as a friend of all. As you stand in the first pose of the Sun Salutation practice (described above), invite the Sun into your heart, so that you, too, can become a friend of all.
Did you have a difficult childhood? Ever feel betrayed by those who call themselves your “friends”? Or perhaps you’ve had a falling out with your beloved partner? I think we can all think of at least one time when we felt less loved that we would have liked.
What’s so powerful about this practice of invoking the sun in your heart is that you can actually start to embody the love, friendship, and support you seek from outside. No more begging and chasing outer circumstances to complete you. By practicing this super simple exercise (that does not depend on your flexibility or ability to fit into special “yoga pants”), you start to stand firmly in your own power, guided by wisdom and compassion.
3. Pour water to the sun.
Another beautiful sun worship ritual you can try is filling a copper vessel (called Kalash) with water. Pour this water to the sun in the eastern direction as the sun rises. You can literally pour the water into a tree or plant outside (or inside, if you live in a place that’s very cold). As you pour the water, you strengthen the sun’s qualities of illumination, wisdom, health, wealth, and power within yourself.
I love starting my day with these practices and send you blessings as you start to embrace your own soul power. Would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Learn more about Ayurveda in my bestselling book, The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More.