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Surya Namaskar – Spiritual & Scientific Aspects of Sun Worship

By on January 6, 2019 in Spiritual Awakening
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by Susan Doerr,
Contributing Writer,

I’d like to talk a little bit about the scientific / spiritual aspects of sun-worship as I understand it. In yoga, we salute the sun. Why?


Begin with the science. In astronomy, there is a term, “albedo,” which pertains to how bright an object (a planet, a moon) is. Albedo designates the reflectivity of an object: high albedo indicates a light or white surface, and low albedo a dark one. The darkest objects in the Universe, black holes, can be said to have 0% albedo.

On these kinds of celestial bodies: moons, planets … the light doesn’t belong to the object. It is merely reflected.

However, suns are particularly curious when considering the property of albedo! When the light from nearby stars reaches our sun, do we say it is reflected? Absorbed? How does one even go about measuring albedo on an object that’s so blindingly hot it defies human vision from millions of miles away; so large it could consume a hundred Earths?

Stars are, beautifully, rather solitary creatures, and a wonderful spiritual metaphor. They emit their light steadily, with little of what we might consider “feeling” for the drama of the creatures on countless alien worlds who depend on them, daily, for their energy of life; furthermore, they’re dependent on no external source of radiance, though they don’t turn away the light of nearby stars. Their light falls on hills and valleys, the evil and the good, with no judgment of one or the other being “more worthy” or less. They have no concept of that. They have no discrimination, nurturing without any conscious attempt.

They shine.

Surya Namaskar - Sun Salutation

I find this interesting, because in yoga, we are called to be suns. First we salute the Sun: then, as we progress, we burn.

Some people try to metaphorically reflect, rather than generate, light. Increasing ones “albedo” is a good way to simulate the True Light. We can reflect source – this is well and good, and it does bring light into our dark little world. It feeds us a little. But we can become hungry for Light in this unmerged state. We’re still lost in separation. Our light is not our own; we’re still “borrowing” it.

Ultimately, however, yoga calls for us to engage in an unsimulated process. We are not to take others’ light and reproject it: we are, rather, to be that Light that silently speaks thus …

“Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.”


© Susan Doerr 2015

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