The Amarna period is considered by many to be a golden age of art and culture within Egypt’s lustrous history. Between 1351 and 1334 BCE a subtle break from polytheism came about when King Ahkenaten decreed that the sun disc Aten was dominant over the other gods. After Ahkenaten’s death, his heir Tutankhamun put an end to the supposed Aten cult. The traditional sun god Ra was reinstated, and as a result, most of the artifacts depicting observance to Aten were defaced or destroyed. Despite these loses, a few special ruins remain. The relief fragment depicted below shows several human forms prostrating to the sun.
(On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan)
Upon closing the 6-day Brooklyn workshop, Sharath Jois reminded each of us that Ashtanga Vinyasa serves to enhance not only physical, but also, spiritual well-being. Beginning with Surya Namaskara, our practice could be a 90 minute expression of gratitude. Yet similarly to the solar gratitude which Amarna Egyptians undoubtedly felt, it is important to acknowledge that yoga practices everywhere are transforming. Throughout modernity, fitness culture has left an indelible impression on the evolution of postural yoga, and commercialism significantly accelerates the process. It is no small endeavor to maintain a moving and breathing tradition just as we found it. The simple act of facing the morning sun to practice serves as a quaint reminder to honor the mysterious cultural origins yoga.
Examples of existing Amarna artwork are available via the links below: