Ratha Saptami – World Sun Salutations Day

Every year on the day of Ratha Saptami, my students and I practice 108 Surya Namaskaras. We get up early in the morning and practice just when the Sun is about to rise. It is believed that the exposure to the early morning sun, especially on this day rejuvenates, energizes and purifies the mind and body.

The preparations start about 3-4 weeks before the final day. This is done in order to prepare your body and mind for 108 Surya Namaskaras. It is amazing to see how the energy, strength, stamina, will power and excitement builds up in this course of time.

This year, 2017, Ratha Saptami is on the 3rd February.

What is Ratha Saptami?

Ratha Saptami festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the lunar month ‘Magha’. It marks the seventh day (Saptami) of the Sun’s northerly movement. It is symbolically represented in the form of Lord Surya turning his chariot (ratha), drawn by seven horses, towards the northern hemisphere, in the direction of north-east.

This Northernly movement, Uttarayana, is “brahma marga”- the direction towards the Divine.  The ‘ratha’ is symbolic of our mind.  There are innumerable thoughts arising in our mind. These thoughts are represented by the horses, which pull you in different directions. The mind needs to be enabled to progress towards the Divine.

Ratha Saptami is symbolic of the change of season to spring and the start of the harvesting season. On this day, we worship the Sun God and pray for our better health and well-being.

Surya Namaskara

Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutations are a set of 12 postures that energize the body. It is a complete head to toe exercise and has an immense positive effect on the mind and body. Doing 108 Sun salutations can be challenging and requires stamina, physical fitness, discipline, commitment and will power. Hence, we start preparing well in advance in order to reach our target of 108 on the actual day. After you’ve practised 108 surya namaskaras, you’ll experience increased energy throughout the day with sharpness and focus. Practising it in a rhythm proves to be meditative. Trust me, it is not as hard as it sounds. Once you develop a routine, you’ll love it so much that you’ll practice it quite often in the year 🙂

Once you finish your practice, ensure you cool-down and relax properly. Yoga Nidra is a great way to restore the body and mind.

 

Sun salutations

 

Why 108?

The number 108 has a great spiritual significance and is believed to be sacred. There are many theories/reasons for it, some of them are:

  • This number 108, connects the sun, moon and the earth. The average distance of the sun and the moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
  • There are 108 pithas or sacred sites, throughout India. There are 108 upanishads or sacred texts. There are also 108 marma points or sacred points in the body.
  • The Sanskrit alphabets have 54 letters. Each has masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti), part to it. 54 times 2 is 108.
  • The Japa mala (prayer beads) also have 108 in it.

 

Have a wonderful Ratha Saptami. Sun salutations open and energize the entire body. When done with total awareness it brings more prana (life force energy) into the system.

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