Rising light awakens, but the falling rays induce sleep and relaxation. Light guides our circadian rhythm, sets our body’s natural alarm clock and tells us when to get up and go. Or when to rest. Sleep and wakefulness guide our 24 hours.
The sun and its life-giving light are integral in yoga. In “Suryanamskara,” Sri K. Pattabhi Jois stated: “… let me repeat that no asana practice is complete without sun worship. Without its focusing of mental energies, yoga practice amounts to little more than gymnastics and, as such, loses meaning and proves fruitless.”
Light in Yoga Practice
The natural meaningful movements of yoga are infused and heightened by the light. Sunrise yoga awakens the body with the rising of the sun’s light and energy. And candlelight yoga prepares the body to fall into the depths of sleep and relaxation and let go of toxic stresses and events.
Candlelight yoga classes are often held in studios for professional instruction and guided classes that integrate postures ideal for relaxation. However, this relaxing before-bedtime yoga practice also may be honored at home.
While the practice is “candlelight” yoga, the only real requirement is dim and relaxing light. If you don’t feel comfortable with a bunch of lit candles, flameless candles are fine. Or, in the winter, opt for a firelight yoga session. The key is the mood and adjusting the light to speak to the body for calm and tranquility. Think about sunrise…and the dimming light. This vision should be your inspiration.
Many candlelight yoga classes incorporate Vinyasa yoga postures into the sequence. However, if you’re an avid practitioner, feel free to create your own flows and sequence. Just remember, relaxation is the key. Be sure to dress comfortably. You might wish to opt for loose fitting yoga pants. When practicing at home, keep feet bare (for good grip) and use a yoga mat.
Oils and Fragrance
You may also set the mood to complement the light. Burn fragrant incense or place a few drops of essential oils on a towel for a soothing scent. Lavender oil helps calm and relax the body.
Oils also may be used during meditation after yoga practice. According to The Aroma Blog, essential oils and fragrances have a rich history in religious practices and ceremonies. Oils help calm the nervous system to allow the body to relax and they help “improve mental clarity and focus.” The blog recommends using Frankincense, Rosemary, Cedarwood, Lavender, Rose Maroc, Vetiver and Palo Santo during meditative practices.
After practice and meditation, soothe the body with a warm shower or a hot cup of green tea…or chamomile (which also helps calm). Keep the lights dim to create an atmosphere for relaxation. After practicing yoga and meditating in low light, additional light will amp up the body and disturb the calming effects of the practice.
For practitioners who wish to be truly focused on natural light—especially the sun—sunset yoga may also be introduced. Sunset yoga is especially popular in beach locales—especially in Hawaii and Florida. The practice is relaxing and truly breathtaking.
Light is meaningful in yoga and adopting candlelight yoga into habit helps calm the body and prepare for rest. Light harnesses energy, and our bodies are naturally attuned to the rising and falling rays of the sun. Capture the energy of the light, and prepare the body for true relaxation by sending it to sleep as you blow out the candles.
About the Author
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and beauty related topics on the web and for www.brilliance.com