BIBLIYOGA PRACTICE: 28 Sun salutations
BODY BENEFIT: Increase strength, powerful legs and arms, luminescent skin
SOUL SOLUTION: Draw down Light into the world, healing yourself and others.
KOSHER SUTRA: “What real profit has a human in all the work he does beneath the sun? a generation comes and a generation goes, and the world stands forever. And the sun rises and the sun sets, and it returns back to its place” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-6)
The words of King Solomon ring out loud and clear; human life is short but the world lasts for a long time. The theory is that he wrote Ecclesiastes towards the end of his days, reflecting on how he’d misspent much of it. It took him years to find meaning and fulfilment, and that only came at his final sundown. What are we to do when all of our efforts will eventually fade? What is the point of everything we do on earth?
‘Beneath the sun’ is a challenging phrase. If our lives are merely focused on material pursuits, pleasures of the flesh and transient pursuits, then life can appear a little meaningless as it will all fade. But if the question is rephrased, to read; ‘What real profit has a human in all the work he/she does ABOVE the sun’, then it’s a whole new ballpark. What is Above the sun? The realm of the spirit. The realm of God.
The festival of Pesach is a festival of liberation. When we remember that we are not slaves to our physical body. We are free people. We look towards a metaphorical Mount Sinai and remember there is something beyond, and strive towards our notion of God. Yes, we might argue about the nature God; that’s part of being Human. But in recognising that there is something beyond, we begin to free ourselves.
The cornerstone of physical Hatha yoga practices is a sun salutation; a piece of choreography that is traditionally done at sunrise whilst facing the sun. There are many variations on Surya Namaskar and there is no ‘right’ version as different styles suit different needs. The essence of facing the sun is to recognise what is beyond it. The sun is a source of energy to our planet but on a spiritual level it is merely representative of the greater source of energy behind it; the Source who made the sun on Day 4 of creation.
The Kabbalah connects the sun with Moses**, and explains how the phrase ‘the sun rises’ (Ecclesiastes, above) refers to when Moses led the people out of Egypt, which began a new dawn. The Zohar, the Kabbalistic ‘Book of Splendour’ (again, another play on spreading Light), also says that “the sun is the body”.
Try some Sun Salutations before you Seder. The sun is a glorious part of creation but we can look above and beyond it, and use it as an opportunity to begin the process of liberation as we commemorate leaving Egypt. Freedom begins right here.
Marcus J Freed
*Babylonian Talmud, 59b. **Zohar, Parshat Hukkat, 38.
Marcus J Freed is a studio-trained yogi, yeshiva-trained educator, published author and classically-trained actor. Check out more Kosher Sutras at www.bibliyoga.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free weekly Kosher Sutra. Discover more about his general programs at www.marcusjfreed.com.
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