Surya Namaskara

Surya Namaskara or the Sun Salute is not a formal part of traditional hatha yoga. It is composed of a series of twelve yoga asanas performed in sequence. However, it is of so much value that it has now accepted as a part of Hatha Yoga. Many people use it as a warm-up before the asana practice. If short on time, people do Surya Namaskar instead of the actual asana practice and still derive substantial benefit.

 

It is typically performed in the open air, facing the sun, at sunrise.

 

Surya Namaskar is not just a physical exercise. For each of the postures, there is a particular breathing pattern -  inhalation for the backward bends and exhalation for the forward bends. Further, the concentration has to be focussed on a specific chakra for each posture, and a particular mantra- (name of the sun) has to be chanted for each pose

 

1. Pranamasana  - (Namaste Pose)

Normal Breath -

Om Mitraaya Namaha  (Salutations to the Friend of All)

Anahata Chakra

 

2. Hasta Uttanasana  (Arch your back)

Inhale-

Om Ravaye Namaha  (Salutations to the Shining One)

Vishuddhi Chakra

 

3. Pada Hastasana  (Toe touch)

Exhale

Om Suryaaya Namaha  (Salutations to he who induces activity )

Swadishtana Chakra

 

4. Ashwa-sanchalan-asana  (Horse pose)

Inhale

Om Bhaanve Namaha  (Salutations to he who illumines)

Ajna Chakra

 

5. Parvatasanaa- (Downward facing dog pose or Mountain pose)

Exhale

Om khagaaya Namaha - Salutations to one who moves through the sky

Vishuddhi Chakra

 

6. Ashtanga Namaskar (Push-up pose)

Hold breath -

Om Pooshney Namaha - Salutations to the giver of strength and nourishment 

Manipura Chakra

 

7. Bhujangasanaa  (Cobra pose)

Inhale

Om Hiranayagarbhaaya Namah - Salutations to the Golden Cosmic Self 

Swadishtana Chakra

 

8. Parvatasanaa

Exhale

Om Mareechibhyoh Namaha - Salutations to the Rays of the Sun

Vishuddhi Chakra

 

9. Ashwa-sanchalan-asana

Inhale- 

Om Adityaaya Namaha - Salutations to Sun of Aditi (the Cosmic Mother) 

Ajna Chakra

 

10. Pada Hastana 

Exhale

Om Savitre Namaha - Salutations to the Stimulating power of the Sun

Swadishtana Chakra

 

11. Hasta Uttanasana

Inhale

Om Arkaaya Namaha - Salutations to he who is fit to be praised (arka= energy)

Vishuddhi Chakra

 

12. Pranamasanaa 

Exhale

Om Bhaaskaraaya Namah - Salutations to the one who leads to enlightenment 

Anahata Chakra

 

Surya Namaskar can be done slowly for spiritual benefits and quickly for physical benefits. If doing it quickly, you might find it easier to chant these "bija" or seed mantras for the first six poses

 

1. Om Hram

2. Om Hrim

3. Om Hroom

4. Om Hraim

5. Om Hraum

6. Om Hrah

And then repeat the six mantras for the next six poses.

 

The full cycle of 12 poses leading with the left foot and 12 with the right foot, make one round. You can start with as many rounds as you can do, without getting out of breath. Try to work your way up to twelve rounds

 

Some persons chant one mantra per round, and then, at the end of twelve rounds, chant

Shree Chhaya Suvaryalaamba samet Shree Surya narayan Swaminey namah. Om namoh Narayanaay

 

There are many sources of information about the actual exercises, so I will not cover them here!