SURYA NAMASKARA THE SUN SALUTE AN ESSENTIAL DAILY PRACTICE

SURYA NAMASKARA THE SUN SALUTE

AN ESSENTIAL DAILY PRACTICE

A wonderful sequence, but one that often causes problems and confusion for new practitioners. In my classes I see people glancing right and left to see how to proceed, despite the detailed and precise guidance given.

The sequence of the twelve positions of Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salute, begins with Namaskara Mudra, a gesture of greeting. Exchanging greetings in India is much more than a simple salutation, you connect, you perceive and share consciousness, you enter into a kind of communion with each other.

Surya is the Sun, seen as the heart of life and knowledge; the Sun Salute sequence becomes the possibility that we all have to celebrate communion with Knowledge.

The practice of this sequence, that reproduces the solar parabola from sunrise to sunset is an ancient ritual of unknown origin, practiced by many different peoples with some postural differences.

Body, mind and spirit receive a high energy input from this practice, a reawakening and sense of wellbeing that can be immediately perceived, as if the sun’s energy comes to consciously nourish every cell in the body.

It’s best practiced outdoors (which, however, is often not possible) facing towards the sun, at sunrise and sunset, although it can actually be practiced at any time of the day, provided it’s done on an empty stomach.

The number of sequences, to be executed without interruption, varies from one to three or more, as long as the body does not become fatigued.

It’s a complete practice that makes use of asana (Hatha Yoga positions) pranayama (conscious breathing) and mantra (repetitive sounds that lead to meditation).

Among the many physical benefits there is a lengthening of the spinal vertebrae and muscles, all muscles are strengthened, the lungs are filled with oxygen, the rib cage expands, a significant amount of carbon dioxide and toxins are eliminated and the nervous systems tone and the memory are improved. It promotes sleep and reduces anxiety, normalizes the activity of the endocrine glands, prevents skin imperfections, makes women’s breasts more beautiful and improves pectoral muscles in men, helps menstrual regularity, facilitates childbirth, reduces body fat, improves bowel and kidney functions and, finally, promotes longevity.

HOW TO DO IT:

Namaskaramudra1) In a standing position with the feet together (for those with spinal problems or back pain, keep your feet slightly apart) the hands are joined at the chest in the position of prayer (Anjali-mudra), the head bows slightly toward the sternum in a sign of dignified humility.
Try to keep the back in a straight line, with the pubis towards the navel to lengthen the lower back and the head in line with the torso. Take a deep breath, and exhaling chant the bija-mantra Khram or OM Khram MITRAYA NAMAHA

(Salutations to the friend of all)

 

suryanam_converted2) Inhaling raise the arms above the head by stretching the whole body up towards the sky and then arch the back keeping the muscles of the buttocks slightly contracted in order to protect the lower back, opening ourselves up to the sky, to the sun and to life itself.
On an esoteric level, bringing the arms high above the head and opening up to the sky, symbolizes saying YES to life

 

suryanamaskara 33) Exhaling bend down with your back straight, the hands approaching or resting on the floor next to the feet (in the case of back problems you should bend the knees). The back should form a straight continuous line with the head.
During the forward bend we can chant the bija-mantra KHRIM or
OM KHRIM RAVAYE NAMAHA
(Salutations to the shining one)

 

4. suryanamaskara4) Inhaling take a long step backwards with the left foot, placing the knee on the ground, the back arches and the gaze is directed upwards towards the sky (if you suffer from neck problems leave the head in its natural straight position).

 

5. Suryanamaskara5) Holding the breath take the right foot back to join the left foot bringing the whole body into a straight line from the shoulders to the heels. To achieve this straight line tighten the muscles in the buttocks and activate the abdominal muscles. The head forms a continuous line with the torso.

 

6. suryanamaskara6) Exhaling lower the knees to the ground followed by the chest and lastly the chin. In this position eight points touch the ground: the feet, knees, hands, chest and chin. As we go down, with the exhalation, we can chant the bija-mantra KHRUM or

OM KHRUM SURYAYA NAMAHA
(Salutations to the one who induces activity)

 

suryanamaskara 77) With an inhalation slide gracefully forward and raise the head and torso arching the back, with the muscles of the buttocks strongly contracted to protect the lower back. The gaze is directed towards the sky (if you suffer from neck problems keep the head straight with the cervical vertebrae extended).

 

8. suryanamaskara8) Exhaling raise your pelvis pushing it as high as possible, with the abdominal muscles active as if you want to bring the navel towards the spine, stretching and lengthening the back and bringing it in line with the arms, so that the head and neck areas remain relaxed. As we enter the position we can chant the bija-mantra KHRAIM or
OM KHRAIM SAVITRE NAMAHA                                                 (Salutations to the benevolent mother)

 

4. suryanamaskara9) Inhaling bring the left foot
forwards between the hands arching the back
and looking up towards the sky. Another
variant is to bring the arms above the
head. (Always consider that with neck
problems its better to keep looking straight ahead)suryanamaskara 8 variante

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

suryanamaskara 1010) Exhaling join the feet between the hands, raising the pelvis as high as possible. Creating space in the abdomen bring the head towards the knees (with back problems bend the knees).
During the forward bend we can chant the bija-mantra KHRAUM or
OM KHRAUM Arkaya NAMAHA
(Salutations to the one who is praiseworthy)

 

 

11. suryanamaskara11) Inhaling raise the whole torso and bring the arms above the head in the gesture of greeting (Anjali-mudra) arching the back.
Tighten the muscles of the buttocks to protect the lower back. The gaze is directed upwards towards the sky (with neck problems the head remains in line with the torso).

 

 

 

Namaskaramudra12) Exhaling bring the hands back into Anjali-mudra in front of the chest, the back straightens, always keeping the vertebrae in a straight line. During the exhalation we can chant the bija-mantra KHRAH or

OM KHRAH BHASKARAYA NAMAHA
(salutations to the one who leads to enlightenment)

 

 

Remain in this position until the breath and the heartbeat get back to normal, and then repeat the whole sequence on the opposite side by bringing the right leg back etc.

Remember that home practice is important, but one should always refer to a qualified teacher to avoid making mistakes during the practice of the sequence

Wishing you a good practice then,
with thanks, as always,
Sabine

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