Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation in Yoga

Significance of Sun and Sun Salutation

Sun is the source of life, lightens each and every single thing living or non-living. Even the moon gets light from Sun to shine. The jatharagani (fire inside the body), which is basis of all the transformation happening in the body, symbolises sun. Sun is said to be the soul. He is the father. If we look at the solar system it’s sun who is in the center and other planets are revolving around. Sun is maintaining other planets in order without getting collide with each other. Sun the most important in our life so we are grateful to the sun and in honour we salute Him by doing Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar. In yoga we performed it in the sequence of 12 asanas.

Pradakshina (Revolving around the Deity)

Surya (sun) is the guru of Lord Hanuman. In hindu culture we used to do salutation to every god while moving around the Deity in a circle. Like Ganesha did to Shiva and Paravati, like Hanuman did to Lord Suyra (sun) or many people do parikrama keeping the idol in the center.

If we understand the 12 asana for Salutations to sun, we will see that they will make a round. We end to the same position from where we start. It is a closed structure following with the mantras and breathing pattern accordingly. Many yoga practitioners or many yoga cults have the ritual of doing Surya namaskar (Sun Salutation) 108 times.

Sun is the Lord of solar system and cause of energy and life on earth. Saluting the sun, offering water to sun and surya upasana performed by the devotees to enhance their sun in the horoscope and to get the blessings of Lord Sun. In yoga Sun salutation is very popular as Sun is the source of light and life. Light is the master which brightens the way and guide the person throughout the journey. So to remain energised and healthy we bow to God Sun with grateful heart.

Namaskar or Salutation

Namaskar is a gesture of greeting someone with palms joined, fingers pointing upward and close to heart. It is formed from the word Nama means ‘I bow’ and te means ‘You’. So Namaste means ‘I bow to you’ joining my hands. Namaskar is the salutation that comes from heart.

Sun Salutation in Yoga

Sun salutation is a graceful and powerful combination of 12 asanas (postures) making a sequence. All the yoga practices generally includes surya namaskar in the routine. These 12 asanas (postures) are followed by the mantra of Lord Sun, before starting the asana practitioner chants the name and complete one asana; similar pattern is followed in all 12 asanas. Yoga now a days is done to keep oneself fit but the main purpose of yoga is to reach samadhi the self realization.

Here are the 12 postures, mantra and breathing pattern of sun salutation practiced by yoga practitioners:

1). Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

It is also called Hridya Mudra (Hridya means Heart). Touching the palms and pressing each other equally, fingers pointing upward in front of the chest, both thumbs touching the sternum. Keeping the weight equal on both feet. Open your Chest open, no slouching and relaxed shoulders. Body is neither tight nor loose. Stand tall & straight.

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Mitraaya Namah ॐ मित्राय नमः

2). Hasta Uttanasana (Raising Arm Pose)

While inhaling, bring your arms up and while exhaling, arch back keeping your head between your arms, arms near the ears. Stretch your body up and go back while exhaling. Legs Straight and neck relaxed.

Breathing: Inhale while stretching arms up and exhale if you bend back.

Mantra: Om Ravaye Namah ॐ रवये नमः

3). Paadhastasana (Standing Forward Bend)

While exhaling bend forward and keep your hands inline with your feet on your mat. Keep the spine erect and bend, if necessary bend the knees but don’t make it a habit. It is also known as Uttanasana.

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Suryaaya Namah ॐ सूर्याय नमः

4). Ashwa Sanchalan (Lunging Pose)

Inhale and put your left foot back and place your left knee on the mat. Try to lengthen your spine and look up. Bring your arms up straight keeping near the ears and while exhaling, arch back as much as you can. Keep your neck relaxed and in between the arms. Don’t drop the neck!

It is also known as Anjneyaaya Asana.

Breathing: Inhaling while placing the foot forward and exhale if you arch back.

Mantra: Om Bhaanve Namah ॐ भानवे नमः

5). Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog Pose)

If you are in low lunge and hands on ground then to come into this posture put your right foot back in line with left foot; lift hips & tailbone up bringing body in inverted ‘V’ shape.

If you were in back bend lunge pose and your arms were up then first bring your arms back and keep your hands on the ground and then come into this posture as mentioned above.

Try to keep heels on ground. Try not to bend knees and elbows.

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Khagaaya Namah ॐ खगाय नमः

6). Ashtanga Namaskar (Eight Limb Pose)

In this posture eight limbs touch the ground and they are:

feet (2) + knees (2) + chest (1) + chin (1) + Hands (2).

or

feet (2) + knees (2) + chest (1) + forehead (1) + Hands (2).

Bend your knees down, come on the toes and place knees on floor, lift your hips, keep chest on the floor, hands inline with chest with bended elbows and place either chin or forehead on the ground.

Breathing: Retain

Mantra: Om Pushane Namah ॐ पूष्णे नमः

7). Urdhva Mukha Shvaanasana (Upward facing dog)

While inhaling be in the posture. Keep your toes relaxed on the ground little apart pointing outward, legs stretched out, hips up from the ground and shoulder down. Weight supported on hands, arms straight, arch back and look up.

The other version is Bhujanga Asana (Corbra pose). While inhaling come in to the posture. Keep toes together, pointing outward, knees and legs on the ground and lift up with the support of hands, make arch, shoulders down. Don’t Force. Listen to your body.

Breathing: Inhale

Mantra: Om Hiranya Garbhaaya Namah ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः

8). Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog Pose)

Come into this posture while exhaling. Keep toes and feet on the ground lift hips up & tailbone up bringing the body in inverted ‘V’ shape.

Try to keep heels on ground. Try not to bend knees and elbows.

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Marichaye Namah ॐ मरीचये नमः

9). Ashwa Sanchalan (Lunging Pose)

Inhale and put your left foot in front in between your hands keeping right leg back and place your right knee on the mat. Try to lengthen your spine and look up. Bring your arms up straight keeping near the ears and while exhaling, arch back as much as you can, keeping the neck relaxed and in between the arms. Don’t drop the neck!

Breathing: Inhale

Mantra: Om Adityaaya Namah ॐ आदित्याय नमः

10). Paadhastasana (standing forward bend)

While exhaling place your right foot (which is at back) to front in line with left foot. Bend forward. Take care of your hands that they are inline with your feet. Straighten your the spine erect in forward bend, if necessary bend the knees but don’t make it a habit.

It is also known as Uttanasana.

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Savitre Namah ॐ सवित्रे नमः

11). Hasta Uttanasana (Raising arm Pose)

While inhaling, bring your arms up, spine straight and head between the arms. Arch back keeping arms near the ears, Stretch your body up and go back while exhaling. Legs Straight and neck relaxed.

Breathing: Inhale while stretching arms up and exhale if you bend back.

Mantra: Om Arkaaya Namah ॐ अर्काय नमः

12). Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Bring your arms and hands back in front of the chest. Touch and press palms equally, fingers pointing upward in front of the chest, both thumbs touching the sternum. Keeping the weight equal on both feet. Open your Chest open, no slouching and relaxed shoulders. Body is neither tight nor loose. Stand tall, straight and be in the feeling to bow to Lord Sun (Suryadev).

Breathing: Exhale

Mantra: Om Bhaskaraaya Namah ॐ भास्कराय नमः

These 12 asanas (postures) complete one surya namaskar.  Repeat the steps and now in ashwa sanchala bring right foot back and do other asanas respectively.

There are other variations of surya namaskar also. Here we have given beginner level and traditional surya namaskar.

While doing the posture feel the gratitude towards the Lord Sun and feel the blessings you are receiving. Feel you are getting strong and healthy, filled with light and energy and Lord Sun is guiding you in your life.

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