Surya Namaskar - Sun Salutation

Surya Namaskar - Sun Salutation

by Chandra Om

Surya Namaskar
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Click to view the entire Suryanamaskara series

In the system of “Suryanamaskara” are combined several Yoga postures with rhythmic breathing, rapid movement, sunbathing and prayerful contemplation of the divine power that the sun represents. We are asked to practice this Suryanamaskara facing the morning sun, bathing our whole body in the life-giving rays of the sun, the giver of lights, life, joy and warmth to the whole world.

Suryanamaskara consists of twelve postures or stages. One posture smoothly and gracefully flows into the next. There is a fairly vigorous movement which builds up the muscles too, yet it conforms to the vitally important rule in Yoga that there should be no undue strain or violence to the practice. Hence, the extraordinary and unique result: after the practice, one does not feel tired and exhausted as it often happens in mere physical culture, but one feels thoroughly refreshed. Of still greater importance is the inner mood with which Suryanamaskara is done. Inwardly watch every little movement, becoming aware of every change that takes place in the body, especially the spine. The mind must be quiet and observant to do this, and after a few months of practice, this awareness will grow.

Technique

1. Stand upright. Fold the palms in front of the chest, in prayer position. Exhale.

2. Inhaling all the way, bring the arms up above the head, bending the trunk from the base gradually up the vertebrae as far back as you can.

3. Extend upwards and then forward, stretching the spine and breathing out. Without bending the knees, place the palms of the hands squarely on the ground, fingers pointing straight in front, parallel to the feet. Bury the face between the knees, trying to get the forehead between the shins.

4. Bring the right leg back, while inhaling. Flex the left leg at the knee and let the thigh be in close contact with the torso. Look up. Inhale.

5. Bring the left leg also back. Straighten the back and the arms. Breathe out.

6. As you breathe out, flex at the elbows. Dip the whole body and touch the ground with the chin, chest, palms, knees, and toes. The other parts of the body should not touch the ground. Keep the ‘tail’ up, giving a pelvic tilt.

7. Bring the head up and backwards, straighten the arms and bend the spine backwards as much as possible. Inhale.

8. As you breathe out, swing the hip up and back and assume inverted V position, the feet and palms resting on the floor.

9. Bring the right leg forward, foot flat on floor between the hands (as 4 above). Inhale.

10. Bring the left leg forward, straightening the knees, head down (as 3 above). Exhale.

11. Inhale, straighten the body, and bring the arms up above your head, bending back as far as possible (as 2 above).

12. Stand upright (as 1 above), coming into Prayer Position. Repeat this at least twelve times every morning, alternating legs.

After completing twelve Namaskaras, lie down flat on the ground on the back and relax each and every limb one by one—from the toes to the crown of the head. This is called Savasana (Corpse Pose). To begin with, if one feels tired after three or four Namaskaras, you may stop after a few rounds. Gradually increase the number of Salutations (one everyday or every two days) all the time taking care that too much strain is not caused on any account, on any part of the body. The number should be increased according to your capacity.

Meaning

I always adore Surya, the sun, the beautiful Lord of the world, the immortal, the quintessence of the Vedanta, the auspicious, the absolute knowledge, of the form of Brahman, the Lord of the Gods, ever-pure, the one true consciousness of the world itself, the Lord of Indra, the Gods and men, the preceptor of the Gods, the crest-jewel of the three worlds, the very heart of the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the giver of light. The sun being the most effulgent and life-giving force for this planet, it forms the visible representation of the invisible Almighty Lord. The vast majority of men cannot think of the translucent Supreme Absolute without the help of some concrete object or idea. To them the Sun forms the best object for worship and meditation. Thus, Surya-Namaskara provides the foundation for the magnificent all-round culture of body, mind and spirit, which is essential for every human being.

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