Surya Namaskara for All

admin  -  May 27, 2014  -  , , , ,  -  No Comments


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Do not despair if you have insufficient time to practice different yoga asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing technique), japa (chanting) and dhyana (meditation) daily. Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation is the solution you need to incorporate asana, pranayama, japa and meditation into a single short routine.

Practicing Surya Namaskara helps you to be physically and mentally fit. Well, not only it is a healthy way to start the day but it is easy to do also!

  • Getting started

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    Before you start the sequence, stand straight up with your feet kept together and hands by the sides. Take a few deep breaths and relax the body. Be mindful of every part of the body and breath.

    There are twelve Vedic names in honour of the Sun and each mantra corresponds with the twelve positions in the sequence. The mantras mentioned here can be incorporated as a chant (mentally) while you enter each position. Alternatively you may also use ‘Om’ as your mantra. Although it is beautiful to practice this while standing in front of the rising sun, you may practice Surya Namaskara at any time convenient to you. You can create a meditative experience by maintaining your awareness on the breath movement and on the mantra as well (if you incorporate chanting).

  • Position 1 – Pranamasana (prayer pose)

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    Stand straight up with the feet together. Bring the hands together in front of the chest in namaskara mudra (prayer position). Mentally relax the whole body.

    Breathing: Exhale while bringing the hands in the namaskara mudra.

    Mantra: Om Mitraaya Namaha

  • Position 2 – Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose)

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    Stretch the arms over the head. Bend backward while keeping the arms separated.

    Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms.

    Mantra: Om Ravaaye Namah

  • Position 3 – Padhastasana (hand to foot pose)

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    Bend down at your hips until the fingers touch the floor. Try to bring your forehead close to your knees as much possible and place the palms of the hands on the floor on either side of the feet. Make sure that the fingers are in line with the toes.

    Breathing: Exhale while bending down.

    Mantra: Om Suryaaya Namah

  • Position 4 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)

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    Keep the palms of the hand on either side of the feet. Stretch the right leg back as far as possible. Bend the left knee while holding the left foot on the floor as it is. Expand your chest upwards and stretch the head upwards. The head should be tilted backward. The eyes should gaze toward the eyebrow centre.

    Breathing: Inhale while stretching the right leg back.

    Mantra: Om Bhaanave Namah


     

     

  • Position 5 – Santolanasana (inner equanimity pose)

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    Move left legs back. Raise the knees off the floor and place the feet together. The entire body is in a straight line from head to feet. You should be looking forward ahead.

    Breathing: Retain the breath

    Mantra: Om Khagaaya Namah

  • Position 6 – Ashtanga Namaskara (prostration with eight limbs)

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    Drop the knees to the floor first. Then lower the chest until it touches the floor. Finally rest your forehead on the floor (alternatively you can place the chin down instead). Eight portions of the body is in contact with the floor – two feet, two knees, two palms, chest and forehead. The buttocks and abdominal region should be kept raised.

    Breathing: Exhale as you lower the body.

    Mantra: Om Pushne Namah

  • Position 7 – Bhujangasana (cobra pose )

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    Arch the back and raise the body forward and upward as you straighten the elbows (the arms may be slightly bent unless the spine is very flexible). Curve the spine as much possible. Tilt the head back. The eyes should gaze toward the eyebrow centre. Leave the lower body (hips and thighs) to remain on the ground.

    Breathing: Inhale as you raise the body (Feel the spine while you raise)

    Mantra: Om Hiranyagarbhaaya Namah

  • Position 8 – Parvatasana (moutain pose)

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    Lift the buttocks and hips up while straightening your legs and arms. Keep the feet and palms of hands flat on the floor. Press the heels on the floor. Drop the head between the arms.

    Breathing: Exhale while raising the hips up.

    Mantra: Om Marichaaye Namah

  • Position 9 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)

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    This is same a position 4 (alternate leg position). Holding the palms of the hand on either side of the feet as they are, bring the right leg forward on the level of the hands. The left foot and knee remains touching the floor. Expand your chest upwards and stretch the head upwards. The head should be tilted backward. The eyes should gaze toward the eyebrow centre.

    Breathing: Inhale while bringing the right leg forward and raising the body.

    Mantra: Om Adityaaya Namah

  • Position 10 – Padahastasana (hand to foot pose)

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    This is same a position 3. Bring the left foot forward next to the right foot. Make sure that the toes and fingers are in one straight line. Straighten the knees. Try to bring your forehead close to your knees as much possible.

    Breathing: Exhale while bending down.

    Mantra:Om Savitre Namah

  • Position 11 – Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose)

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    This is same a position 2. Stretch the arms over the head. Bend backward while keeping the arms separated.

    Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms.

    Mantra:Om Arkaaya Namah

  • Position 12 – Pranamasana (prayer pose)

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    This is same a position 1. Lower the hands together and bring them in front of the chest in namaskara mudra (prayer position). This completes the position. You can relax the arms to the side of your body and observe your breath flow. You can rest awhile in this pose before starting the next cycle. For a more vigorous routine, you can proceed to start the next cycle immediately after the last position.

    Breathing: Exhale while bringing the hands in the namaskara mudra.

    Mantra: Om Bhaskaraaya Namah

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    A sequence of twelve positions makes one round. However one round only constitutes half a complete practice. Therefore the positions are to be repeated again to make another round. In the second half, alternate the leg movement in position 4 (left leg goes back) and in position 9 (right leg remains back). 12 rounds are recommended for daily practice.

    You can start with as many rounds (even number) you can and gradually scale up to 12 rounds. You can also do more than 12 rounds.

    End your Surya Namaskara practice by lying down on the floor for a shavasana practice (relaxation) a few minutes.

 

For thousands of years the spiritual practice of greeting the rising Sun with prayers and meditation has been a unique feature to the Hindu way of life. The famous chant of Gayatri Mantra is attached to this practice. The routine may sometimes include a sequence of mudras, yoga postures and pranayama (breathing technique). This eventually evolved into what is known today as the Surya Namaskara or Sun salutation. The practice of Surya Namaskara has been popular among spiritual practitioners and students since ancient times.

The sequence of Surya Namaskara allows our body and mind to synchronise with a rhythmic flow of higher energy and awareness. Surya Namaskara is also a wonderful way to show gratitude to the life-sustaining Sun and to hold on that feeling for a longer period of time. Contemplate on the Sun that enables life on earth – the Supreme Nourisher, the All-Pervading Light, the Source of Energy, the Centre of our life – the Atman (Self). The Sun is meditated upon by Vedantins as the representation of the Ultimate Reality – the Absolute Consciousness.

There are also many other variations of the Surya Namaskara. The sequence given here is perhaps the most well-known. Yoga practitioners will agree that Surya Namaskara is the best yoga asana sequence that anyone can do and gain various benefits. Mentally it prepares one for deep meditation and study. It improves blood and oxygen circulation and makes our body supple and mind clear. And health wise, the benefits are numerous!

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