Surya namaskar is a salutation to Sun God who is a major source of prana. Yogi Ashwini explains each posture to help you perform it correctly.
Sun salutation, the ancient yoga technique is considered to be a complete workout for the body. Few of its benefits include improving blood circulation of the body, strengthening the skeletal system, making the body flexible, reducing anxiety, calming the mind, and maintaining health of your skin and hair.
History of Surya Namaskar
“Sun powers all life on earth.”
Our Rishis understood the importance of the phenomenal force of the Sun and thus gave us Surya Namaskar, part of Surya Yoga, which allows one to pay salutation to the sun god, one of the major sources of prana. Prana being “The Force” in the universe, which is responsible for creation, maintenance and transformation.
In Surya Namaskar one draws prana that is the sun’s energy through the five senses called the paanchindriyas. This is very useful in bringing about balance at the levels of the koshas —Annamaya (physical), Pranamaya (pranic), Manomaya (intellect), Vigyanmaya (intuitive) and Ananadmaya (complete bliss) — of an individual, thereby bringing about the sthirta and strength from the core to the periphery.
Surya Namaskar is a complete sadhna (spiritual practice), which comprises twelve asanas.
Starting with Surya Namaskar, the awareness should always be at the manipurak chakra (located at the navel), which is also the chakra of the sun’s energy. The ideal time for doing these asanas is only twice a day, one when the sun rises and second when it sets. The pranic frequency of the sun is most conducive to a human being’s state of balance at both these timings. Hence, if someone performs it during that time, the circulation of blood increases which helps the person to attain a glow like that of the rising or setting sun. To see the results it is best to stick to a particular sequence of the postures and do it regularly. With this let’s begin with the asanas:
Surya Naman or Pranamasana: The very first asana is to pay your salutation to the Sun God, folding both hands and joining the palms at the level of anahad, the heart chakra.
Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose): Inhaling, raise both your arms above the head, parallel to each other. Bend the head, arms and torso backward.
Padahastasana (hand to foot pose): Exhaling, bend forward, till your palms touch the floor on either side of the feet. Keeping the legs straight, try touching the knees with your forehead, but do not strain yourself.
Note: People with back problem should not over exert or should avoid this asana.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose): Bend the right knee lunging forward and inhaling stretch the left leg as far behind as possible. Simultaneously, place the palms flat on the ground beside the right foot. Keep the arms straight, such that the entire body weight is supported on both hands, right foot, left knee and toes of the left foot. Tilt your head backwards, arch your back and eyes in shambhavi mudra (both pupils looking at the centre point of your brows).
Parvatasana (mountain pose): From the Ashwa Sanchalanasana, gently take right foot behind beside the left foot while exhaling. Simultaneously, raise your hips placing both palms flat on the floor. Bring your head between the arms, so that the body forms a triangle. Keep both arms and leg straight in the final position, with your heels placed firmly on the ground and spine straight.
Ashtanga Namaskara (salute with eight parts or points): With your palms already placed flat on the floor, gently using your shoulders, bring the chest and chin to the floor, while keeping the buttocks, hips and abdomen raised on your toes. If this seems a bit difficult then first lower the knees, then the chest, and finally the chin. The buttocks, hips and abdomen should be raised a bit.
Bhujangasana (cobra pose): Place your elbows close to the waist, the palms on the floor, next to the chest. Inhale. Gently raise your forehead, followed by the neck, the shoulders, and the upper and middle back such that the navel rests on the ground. Gently tilt the head backward such that the chin is pointing forward. The elbows are raised slightly off the ground and held close to the waist. People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis or hyperthyroidism must not practice this without expert guidance.
From here onwards, we move backwards, from Bhujangasana to Parvatasana (mountain pose). The hands and feet are not moved, instead only the hips raised and heels lowered firmly on the floor. Moving then to Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose), followed by Padahastasana (hand to foot pose), Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose) and finally Pranamasana.
WORD OF CAUTION: Surya Namaskar should only be practiced by people who have gone through the basic steps of Yog under the guidance and supervision of a Guru. The practice is not suitable for beginners as it requires great degree of poise, flexibility and strength in the body.
Also absorbing the sun’s prana in this direct way has the effect of phenomenally increasing the absorption of pranic energy in a person’s body. And as our rishis believed that more is not always better and less is definitely not worse, if the capacity of the body to absorb prana is not enhanced it can cause damage. Yogic practices like the Sanatan Kriya and Ashtanga Yog increase the capacity of the body. This is essential because at the level you are, a state of balance is important.
Yogi Ashwini is a yoga guru. Follow him: www.dhyanfoundation.com