“The sun is a symbol of the Supreme primordial life energy—the ‘Vaisvanaara’—which pervades all objects, protects all objects, and gives life to everything on Earth. The Rishi, also known as the Kavi or the poet, praises that Supreme Being!”-Sri M
Surya Namaskara: A complete practice
Why Salutations to the Sun ?
Sun’s energy provides Prana (life force) to all that exists on this planet. In practices like Sun salutations, the aim of the practitioner is to align this energy flow in his/her own body with the Sun. This alignment allows the practitioner to experience the same source of energy as that which emanates from the Sun. In Hatha Yoga, this is significant, as the foundation of this discipline of yoga lies in balancing the energies of Sun and Moon.
Surya Namaskar or Sun salutations is a specific sequence of twelve different physical movements or asanas. It is a set of alternate backward and forward bending of the spine that increases the strength and flexibility of the spine and the limbs. It massages, stretches, tones and stimulates the various muscles and organs in the body. Its main effects are seen not only on the circulatory and respiratory systems, but helps the optimal functioning of our other systems as well. In addition to this it also stimulates the different chakras and helps in cultivating concentration and stillness of the mind. Surya Namaskar is a technique of vitalizing oneself through solar energy, and is also a form of worship, an offering of gratitude to the powerful symbol of life energy.
Breath plays a crucial role in Surya Namaskar, like any other yogic practice. The transition from one asana/ posture to another is accompanied by an inhalation and an exhalation, facilitating the means to connect to one’s breath.
A very interesting difference which one observes with practice is the sectional breathing that happens in each posture. Certain postures you experience are diaphragmatic, in others, abdominal, and few clavicle breathing. Since our breathing patterns vary , we leave it for you to experience it. This will make you more observant of the changes taking place in your body after the Surya Namaskar practice. It is also interesting to note that if your normal breathing pattern is correct then as you attempt the asanas your breath will naturally flow in the sequence it should be.
The chanting of the Beeja mantras along with the twelve different names of the Sun aloud or mentally, helps in increasing the dharana shakti or the contemplative power. The repetitive nature of this practice fosters a meditative practice. Thus, in total Surya Namaskara is a complete practice in itself.
How to practice
Setting the Intention for the Practice
Satyasyaa pihitam mukham
Tattvam pushan apaavrunu
O Sun, the Controller! Remove the dazzling golden disc from your face so that I, the righteous seeker looking for the Truth, may see you face to face.
– Ishavasaya Upanishad
All practitioners at BYVK begin their practice by chanting this Mantra.
Each cycle of Surya Namaskara consists of two half cycle of 12-steps each.
These steps are listed below• Pranamasana- Ajna Chakra
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Ashtanga Namanasana
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
The above sequence of Asanas make one half cycle of the practice, the same steps should be repeated twice, first by engaging the right leg during the Ashwa Sanchalanasana in the first half cycle and then by engaging the left in the other half cycle. This makes one complete cycle consisting of 24 Asanas in total. This is also a representative of the 24 hours that make up our day.
Benefits of Surya Namaskara:
Surya Namaskar is practised early in the morning, as a salutation to the life-giving source of energy. It can be done as either a stand-alone practice or a warm up for the different muscles and joints and the spine before the practice of Asanas.
- If done in a slow pace, with integration of breath and awareness, it has a meditative effect.
- Medium pace of doing Surya Namaskara will increase muscular endurance and power.
- At a faster pace it serves as a cardiovascular workout, also helps to reduce or burn excess body fat.
Surya Namaskara is an integral part of the teachings at BYVK; all our courses, both residential and online, cover this practice in complete depth.
“Matter which is non-living, inanimate matter and the anima – the life which animates it – Prana has produced all that you see on Earth! The Sun indeed is life. Why? Because it is the Sun that causes photosynthesis, it is the Sun that creates life. If the sun stops working for some days, there will be no agriculture, no growth, nothing! It is the Sun that gives light and heat. The Prana or life energy, in the form of the light of the Sun, bathes the entire Universe in its four directions, with life.”
– Sri M