International Yoga Day and the Yoga of the Sun

By Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley)

There could be no more appropriate day for honoring Yoga throughout the world then on June 21, the day of the summer solstice. Yoga’s connection with light and with the Sun goes back to Yoga’s very origin thousands of years ago in India.

The system of Yoga philosophy or Yoga Darshana, on which the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is based, is said to originate from a teacher called “Hiranyagarbha.” Hiranyagarbha means the “golden embryo” or “golden seed” and is a name of the solar deity of the Vedas.

This same solar deity called Hiranyagarbha is known as “Savita,” which indicates the solar power of transformation. Savita is the deity of the famous Gayatri mantra, the most important of the longer Vedic and Yoga mantras, chanted by millions of Hindus everyday. Savita is worshipped at sunrise, noon and sunset, the main points of solar transformation throughout the day.

Yoga rests upon a recognition of the Divine Self or Purusha as the origin and goal of all life. That Divine Self is frequently lauded in Vedic and Yogic thought as the “deity within the Sun”, or Aditye Purusha.

The Vedic idea of the Sun is not merely of the Sun as a power of nature or as an external reality. Yogic teachings speak of the Divine light and energy within us as the “inner Sun”, the Sun that dwells within the spiritual heart, the enlightened awareness behind the universe as a whole. Many native and mystical traditions throughout the world share a similar spiritual aspiration when they worship the Sun on the summer solstice.

On International Yoga Day and the summer solstice we should all honor the Sun as the light of Yoga and the light of consciousness – reflecting the Divine Self and Divine light within us, within all creatures, and pervading the entire universe as a manifestation of its rays.

There are several practices we can do in this regard, not only on Yoga day but whenever we wish to connect to the Divine light of Yoga.

Sun Salutation

We can perform Sun salutations in honor of the Divine light, meditating upon the Sun as representing the supreme light of awareness.

Solar Pranayama

In Yogic thought the Sun is also identified with Prana, as the light of life, and our Prana is said to be our inner Sun, moving through the body like the Sun in the sky.

We can inhale drawing in the solar light with the mantra Om, and exhale with the solar mantra Hreem, expanding the light of the spiritual Sun to the entire universe

Mantra

The mantra Om is lauded in Vedic thought as the sound of the Sun, which it makes as it crosses the sky. We can chant Om to the Sun, recognizing the power of Om as the light of the Sun and the light of the Divine Self within us.

Or we can use a short mantra to the Sun:

Om Hreem Suryaya Yogeshwaraya Namah!

Om Hreem to the Sun, the Lord of Yoga, we give reverence!

Or for those who know it, we can chant the famous Vedic Gayatri mantra to the solar Self:

Tat Savitur Vvrenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat!

We meditate upon the supreme effulgence of the Divine solar awareness that he may enlighten our minds!

The universal light of truth and love shines upon all beings like the Sun. May that Sun of bliss shine upon all of us on Yoga day and every other day of the year!