Ever wonder about oppositional energies within your body? Solar and lunar, yin and yang, feminine and masculine, the affect of the sun and moon, and the relationship all of this has on yourself as a whole? These countering parts play a role in our lives and as our body strives to maintain homeostasis, perhaps having an understanding of these polarities can assist.
The sun, solar energy, is the yang side of the yin and yang symbol. Represented by masculinity and a beautiful red light, the sun is the ruler of all things promoting heat. It inspires strength, enthusiasm, and motivation, brisk and upbeat flow. When we are feeling vigorous and intense, this is our solar energy coursing through us. We all know people who have personalities who are more solar, maybe it is even ourselves, and at times we can recognize patterns of solar behavior.
In relation to yoga, a solar practice would be an active and energetic one, like a Vinyasa flow class. The parts of class that maintain constant motion without pause. Multiple rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) are considered solar movements. So is arm balancing, and many standing postures and back-bends. When our heart rate is accelerating and the need to keep our breath steady and even is required, when the pace of the flow increases and our Agni (fire) is stimulated, that is when we know we are participating in a solar practice.
Contrastingly is the moon and lunar energy, or the yin side. This represents femininity and gentle white light. The moon promotes coolness and inspires calm, nurturing behavior, even sensuality. Lunar behavior is serene and soothing, restful and at peace.
In relation to yoga, a lunar practice (yin practice) is filled with many seated postures and emphasizes holding poses anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Yin practice attempts to increase flexibility of the connective tissue and fascia, while also quieting the mind and body. Deep awareness of self is necessary as one sustains a single posture for a longer length of time than a solar practice. While surrendering to self, emotions are more likely to rise; practitioners must learn to truly stay present and remain connected to the breath as the body is not in constant active motion. Restorative postures are also considered lunar as the body settles into this more tranquil practice.
We want to ensure we don’t ever have excessive solar or lunar energy: remaining in constant balance is key. Too much solar energy can leave us burned out, exhausting our natural resources. We need to take time for relaxation and self-care to ensure that doesn’t occur. But too much lunar can lend itself to lethargic, lazy behavior, or even depression. Just like anything, a harmony of the two is key to contentment; bring awareness and mindfulness to your behavior, your movements, and your energy for success.
Varied yoga practices or pranayama breathing techniques can assist with balancing. Closing off the left nostril and only breathing through the right will stimulate the Pingala Nadi (your solar energy channel). This will stimulate your masculine energy if you are feeling tired. In turn, if you need to cool or calm down, close off the right nostril to stimulate your Ida Nadi (your lunar energy channel).
While many teachers mix in both lunar and solar postures for a well-rounded class, others will predominately focus on one more than the other. Knowing the difference, as well as understanding what kind of day we have had, can help us customize our morning and / or evening practices to assist in harmonizing ourselves.
So next time you are wondering how to gear your home practice or deciding which class to take if there is a choice, ask yourself what kind of day you have had - more of a solar or lunar - and personalize from there. Balancing your energies is an important aspect of maintaining your emotional and physical well-being. If we can continue to assist the body’s natural tendencies we can continue on a positive path of growth.
Written By: Pamela Lyn