Surya Namaskar: The Sacred Salutation in Yoga

“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind & the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life,” reads BKS Iyengar’s quote on Yoga, the founder of Iyengar Yoga and recognised as one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.

Yoga is a profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul
Yoga is more than 5000 year old profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul

Yoga, an ancient Indian spiritual science for more than 5000 years, has been known to nourish and heal the mind, body and spirit. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word yoga is ‘to add’, ‘to join’, ‘to unite’, or ‘to attach,’ and that union is of one’s consciousness with the higher forces or universal consciousness.

I choose to learn yoga to help deal with the chaos of city life, something to calm me down and clear the cluttered mind – the mind that was functioning at the rate of the fast-paced city life. For me Yoga was the answer that triggered a slow healing process of the inner self, apart from rendering mental clarity.

There are several branches of Yoga – like Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Most of them are more or less based on specific postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation techniques (pratyahara and dharana) and meditation (dhyana).

Surya Namaskar: Salutations to the Sun

One of the most important sequence of asanas would be Surya Namaskar, which means salutations to the Sun, a way of expressing gratitude to the sun for sustaining life on this planet. Surya Namaskar includes a set of 12 fixed, cyclic postures synchronized with ones breath, which detoxifies and stimulates almost every organ of the human body.

Surya Namaskar or sun salutation poses asanas and breathing chart
Surya Namaskar includes a set of 12 fixed, cyclic postures synchronized with the breath, which detoxifies and stimulates almost all the organs of the human body

So even if you practice only these 12 asanas, its enough to benefit from Yoga, and if done early morning is even better as the morning rays have therapeutic properties.

Sun is the divine source of energy and has been worshiped around the world – The Greeks called the Sun god Helius, the Romans referred to him as Titan and Hyperoin, the Egyptians called him Ra. In Mexican culture, he is Kikich Ahau, the Germans call the Sun Sol, in Chinese culture, the Sun represents Yang (Pingala) and the Moon represents Yin (Ida).

Each of the 12 Surya Namaskar poses have 12 corresponding mantras chanted (verbally or in your mind) before each posture. Mantra chanting must be done with intent, to have a powerful and penetrating effect on the mind and body.

Surya namaskar and corresponding mantras and chakras to focus on
Surya Namaskar is best done with mantra chanting and focusing on a chakra with each pose

The significance of these mantras is that each sound like ‘Aum’, ‘Hreem’ awaken the blocked energy, and activate the chakras in the human body. This practice can also be performed with special concentration on each Chakra. Take a look at the video to see the mantras for each pose.

The Surya Namaskar is best done early morning on an empty stomach.

Surya Namaskar 12 steps and corresponding chakra to focus on
The 12 asanas in Surya Namaskar and the corresponding chakra to focus on for each step

Using sacred tree oil in your practice

At the break of dawn when the birds start to sing, I start warming up first with stretching poses, and then move on to Surya Namaskar.

I also apply little bit of the Sacred Tree Oil on the third eye region – its a blend made from different trees like Neroli, Mimosa, Frangipani, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Cedarwood, Copal, Fir and Pine. The tree oil instantly opens and activates the vibratory core, clearing all the blockages in the nadis.

This combined with Surya Namaskar and the morning rays unfolds into a very rejuvenating experience. I can feel the radiating energy of the sun instantly energising and it takes me in a state of bliss and calmness – this experience makes me aware of my shortcomings and helps bring clarity to my mind.

Benefits of Surya Namaskar:

  • It benefits joints, ligaments and the skeletal system by improving posture, flexibility and balance
  • Boosts blood circulation
  • Benefits the Endocrine system and enables the various endocrinal glands to function properly. These include the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary glands as well as the adrenal gland, testes and ovaries
  • Helps people suffering from insomnia
  • It is good for the heart and stimulates the cardiovascular system
  • Tones up the digestive system by the alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs. It activates digestion and gets rid of constipation and dyspepsia
  • It stimulates the lymphatic system and supports respiratory system health, as well
  • Influences the pineal gland and hypothalamus to prevent pineal degeneration and calcification
  • One of the best techniques to keep your sugar under control in Diabetes
  • It gives vitality and strength. It also reduces the feeling of restlessness and anxiety
  • Surya Namaskar relieves stress, improves concentration and gives inner peace

The results are never immediate; it always comes with practice over a long period of time. It’s much more than just an exercise, although people have been coming up with their own versions of Yoga, packaging it as the means to stay in shape.

But the fact is that Yoga makes one spiritually aware of the interconnectedness between your body, mind and spirit, and in the process awakening the dormant Kundalini energy! Yoga is the way of life…

I would like to end with a beautiful quote by Paramahansa Yogananda, “Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.”

References & image source:

Yoga and the art of living
Surya namaskar

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