Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sun-gazing to Recharge the Soul

What did you think about my article 6 Highly Effective Habits for More Energy ? Did you find it helpful? How many are you already practicing? 

Now, some of you did read my previous article and told me "But Supriya, those practices are too easy- tell me more" so here it is... 

Surya aka the sun is our benevolent and very powerful friend that gives life and light to all beings on Earth. One of his functions are photosynthesis, which helps plants grow, which in turn keeps us and our animal kingdom alive. We receive vitamin D, warmth and solar energy for power in many of our electronic utilities. The sun is one of the most magnificent, abundant sources of natural energy for our life here. 

In the Vedic system there is a daily routine, called Sun Gazing that devoted students of any age can practice (with caution).  The practice of sun gazing has some truly amazing benefits, not only for the physical health, but also for mental and spiritual development. 

Some of the benefits of sun gazing include:

  1. Increased energy
  2. Boosts production of the feel good hormones serotonin and melatonin
  3. Improved eyesight
  4. Reduces hunger pains –body is completely nourished by the sun 
  5. Stimulation and growth of the Pineal gland
  6. Release of internal emotional blocks
  7. Increase personal potential

Okay while the practice again is very simple there is CAUTION
1) Practice only during the first hour of the sunrise, or the last hour before the sun sets.  

The specific steps are listed further down in this article but let's get into a little bit of research and study.

The Man Who Brought Sun Gazing to the West
Hira Ratan Manek gave this practice the name and brought it to our Western world. He is more commonly known as HRM and is the founder of the Solar Healing center. He is famous for his ability to live off of solar energy and water. That is it. Sometimes he claims to have tea, coffee or buttermilk for social purposes however states in his own words that the sun can be used to heal the mind, body and spirit and claims that as a result of sun gazing we can have better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. HRM has gone through three strict long term fasts and during those he was under the supervision and observation of various medical and scientific teams to provide statistical evidence of the benefits to this practice.
  • The first fast went for 211 days in 1995 and 1996 in India. Dr. C.K. Ramachandran, a medical expert on Ayurvedic medicine, directed the study. 
  • The second fast went for an impressive 411 days, right after the last one. That is an astounding time to go with no food at all. 
  • The same study was also directed by an international team of 21 doctors and scientists; lead by Dr. Sudhir Shah in India. 
  • The last and third observed fast went for 130 days, which took place in the United States at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Philadelphia. 
The Studies

A scientist by the name of Vinny Pinto conducted a survey on 56 participants and outlined their experiences in what he called “The First Sungazing List Group Sungazers Survey.” His major findings from the study were:

  1. Health improvements especially among women
  2. People who practiced sun gazing for more than five years and who gazed mid-day (instead of the insisted hour after sunrise and hour before sunset) were more likely to report adverse effects.
  3. 35 out of the 51 participants reported to have “increased or greatly increased energy” while only 1 participant reported reduced energy
  4. The number of people who reported a “decreased need for solid food” was approximately equal to the number of people who reported “no significant change in the need for food.” Only 1 person in the study reported an increased need for food.
  5. People who had sun gazed for at least a year for at least 4 times per week were far more likely to report a decreased need for solid food.
  6. The most common physical/mental/spiritual experiences reported from sun gazing were bliss, joy, peace and calmness.
  7. No one from the study reported a decrease in physical health, everyone reported that his or her health was the same or had improved.
While there are many methods The HRM method is safe and popular: 

If you are going to modify this method please do your research and do not attempt to stare at the sun during the times with UV radiation present, and also do not stare at the sun for longer than the recommended times. 

You can adjust this method with how often you practice it and for your intentions behind it, but aside from that you should try to aim to stick to the general guidelines so that you don’t injure your eyesight or cause permanent retinal damage, this is very serious.

The Practice
It is an important part of the practice that you stand barefoot on bare earth. This helps to keep you grounded and enhances the benefits of sun gazing.
As you are staring at the sun visualize the energy from the sun coming into your body and filling your body and cells with rejuvenating light.

Here is the method that HRM recommends:
Day 1
Begin by spending a maximum of 10 seconds on the first day by looking directly at the sun during the safe hours.   

Continue this daily until you have reached 44 minutes. This should take between 9-10 months depending on the weather. 

DAY 2 - DAY 10+On the second day aim for 20 seconds, each day after that continue adding 10 seconds to the previous day. So at 10 days you will be looking at the sun for 100 seconds, or 1 minute and 40 seconds.
According to HRM this is all you need to gain the benefits described above from sun gazing.
After this you will need to walk for 45 minutes each day for the 6 days following the completion of the 9-10 months of sun gazing.
From there on out, make a conscious effort to continue to walk barefoot on the earth, preferably in the sun whenever you feel like it or get the time.
During this time it is important to stay centered and see what comes up for you. 

It is also a good idea to keep a journal to track your progress and keeping note of how you are physically and mentally feeling. 

There are many resources for sun gazing on the internet for the spiritual effects of sun-gazing as well the physical benefits. You might consider watching this documentary called “Eat The Sun.” This documentary follows a man's journey through the HRM practice of sun gazing. 

The best part about the whole journey (should you choose to embark upon it) is that you are making sure you are spending time doing something energizing every day and in nature. This is a highly effective habit builder as well and can transform your health and well being in a very short amount of time! 

There you have it Yogis... and let me know how you find this practice for you.

There are many other Yogic practices you can study with me next year. If you are keen to study yoga and actually follow a methodical personalized practice, registrations are now open for 2 very specialised training programs I have written starting in January 2019. 

They both speak directly to an individual's personal well being, health and practice goals utilising Ayurveda and Yoga as the frameworks. 

One of the programs are accredited and the other is for strictly to develop and advance in health & energy. 

If you are intrigued, send me an email here.

Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

Monday, August 13, 2018

5 Signs You're No Longer a Yoga Newbie

There are tell-tale signs that you’re ready to come off the yoga newbies bench and some of them are quite obvious but we think it’s worth noting for the wins:

Always on Time
You might still remember coming to class late and not worrying about what others thought, since no one knew you back then. Now though, you’re one of the first ones in, ready on your mat, with an ease and greet your fellow yogis as they arrive. You even have a lie down on your bolster and set yourself up in the front row so you didn’t miss a cue. Yes, these are great signs.

Stop the Clock Watch
Back up to last quarter, the 60 minute classes used to feel like an eternity, especially when in Tree pose hold, you would smile wide eyed, feet burning with your eyes wandering over your shoulder to check the clock. Oh and much to your surprise we were only 20 minutes into the start of class. But now you’ve learned to breathe slower, move your body intelligently and can hear the finer instructions that help you relax every step of the way. Eg: SMILEASANA and SIGH like you need it. But also know that they work.

You Won’t Miss Restorative / Yin
Restorative and Yin yoga have always been challenging for the Urban Yogis to take up in the beginning of their yoga journey. Do you remember how hard it was having to hear your mind yap away while you’re being told to relax and find the pleasure in being physically still? It was so hard, because you had never laid down without falling asleep before. It was like being sent to the naughty corner as a big kid. But now you can’t wait to find yourself on your mat just BEING, LAYING STILL, and following your inner bliss for an hour. It’s your weekly staple and are finding this a treat at the end of your week.

It’s about Quality Time
On your first month you were focused on getting on the mat at least 4 times a week. Life was still a little out of control and your schedule was never too planned. So you made it to the studio 4 times but at varying times of the week to realise that a regular practice is essential. Gradually you’ve been scheduling yourself to finish work on time, and be on time for yoga. You realised that the time on your mat is about quality not the number of times you got on it. Your schedule looks a lot more intentional and you’re living life more vibrantly.

The New You Is Reflecting
You’re on a new year, and you are at a cross road between the old you and a possible other you. You learned a lot about your past self in the last year/s of your practice. Truth be told, you haven’t been tracking anything specifically but you were passionately regular.  You’ve fulfilled your aim of being regular and that says a lot. It must be working for you. It’s a new year now though and you are feeling a little intrigued about what else you could learn about yourself? Could you be more self-aware? Physically Stronger and Flexible? Take deeper practices to access more energy?

How do you feel you're tracking on this list?

Supriya Roy