Many cultures worship the sun and pay their obeisance in different ways. In the yogic tradition, the sun is offered salutations, in the form of a choreographed sequence of 12 asanas called the Surya Namaskar. The number 12 is significant as it corresponds with the solar cycle which is approximately 12 years.
By this, Surya namaskars are a gateway to express our gratitude and reverence to the Sun — without whom life does not sustain.
With regular practice of Surya namaskars, our natural cycles begin to align with that of the solar cycle. Each posture activates an energy vortex or chakra: for example, the Ashtanga asana works on the Manipuraka chakra while the Bhujangasana activates the Vishuddhi chakra (throat centre). These chakras absorb the solar energy enabling optimum working of the organs. Ideally, Surya namaskars should be performed in the open, at sunrise turning eastward; the imbued energy gives vitality, health and enhanced abilities.
To further enhance the experience, mantras are recited along with asanas and visualising the sun mentally. The chants help to tune in to the vibrational harmonic of the chakras, adding a different dimension to the practice. The mantras are different ways of addressing the qualities of the sun: ‘dispeller of darkness (Om Suryaya Namaha), one who brings light (Om Bhaanave Namaha), friend to all (Om Mitraya Namaha) and so on.
For those on the spiritual quest, too, diligent practice of Surya namaskars promise opportunity of a mystical dimension. Speaking on this, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says that Surya namaskars and Surya Kriya help in kneading the system so that all barriers and frictions from the physical are machined away, enabling us to be receptive to higher possibilities.
Flexing The Muscles
On the physical plane, Surya namaskars are the best workout, and an ideal means to achieve fitness goals as a large group of muscles are exercised. Here is the math behind it:
There are 12 postures in the namaskars which together make one round. Each round is performed with the right leg and then the left leg to complete a cycle, with 12 such cycles making one set.
In half an hour and at a comfortable pace, one can perform 12x2x12 or 12 sets of namaskars. Research shows that in this duration we can burn about 500 calories, which is higher than rigorous activity like running or rock climbing.
It is not uncommon for aspirants to go up to 108 sun salutations during significant days like the International yoga day. To build the stamina for this, gradually increase the sets.
Whatever may be the approach, Surya namaskars pack a punch, instilling confidence, willpower and vitality to the aspirant.
Dos And Don’ts
- Light warm-up routines before performing to rid stiffness
- Turn eastward in the morning and westward in the evening
- As you change from one position to the other, let the movements be graceful and fluid, letting go of all rigidities — physically and mentally
- Follow the inhale-exhale instructions to harmonise the breath with the posture. A rule of thumb that works is to inhale when you stretch or exert force, and exhale when you are contracting muscles or letting go
- When holding a posture for longer durations, breathe normally and deeply
- Don’t approach the asanas with a competitive spirit, or be in a hurry to finish them
- Perform them slowly at your pace, with awareness and gratitude. It is all about syncing your speed with the rhythm of the cosmic power
So, take the first opportunity to learn and master the Surya namaskars. Stay happy and energetic!
|A Long List Of Benefits:
· Helps fight obesity
· Helps in the synthesis of Vitamin D, in turn, healthy bones
· The combination of asana and pranayama acts as a general tonic
· Cures hypertension and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
· It tones the thighs, arms and abdomen. Improves cardio-vascular capacity and calms the mind
· Stimulates the nervous system and induces body heat
· The improved circulation brings a sparkle to the eye and a glow on the face
· Improves gut health and removes toxins from the body
· Cures ailments of the throat, chest, and alimentary canal
· Restores virility
· Regulates menstrual cycles
· Balances the doshas (as per Ayurveda) or energies that control the body functions