The Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskar
The ‘sun salutation’, known in Sanskrit as surya namaskar, is one of the most popular and well-known practices of hatha yoga today. …
This practice has sprung forth out of one of the oldest forms of worship known to man – the adoration and homage paid to that core of our natural existence that is the sun.
Cultures and civilization throughout antiquity have always recognized and revered this central life-giving figure in our solar system — and forms of solar veneration can been seen in nearly every ancient culture and civilization on earth.
“Whether he can look beyond the voluminous effulgent orb of the sun, to a far more subtle source of its being, or whether he worships the more obvious forms of life which have sprung up because of the existence of our life-giving solar orb, any man is wise who worships the source of his existence, whether he be ancient or modern.”
— Swami Gitananda Giri
Variations of the Sun Salutation
Many variations of the sun salutaion exist. There are some 17 or more varieties, which derive from the ancient ritualistic vedic worship of the sun, actions that can still can be observed in the daily morning ablutions (rituals) of the Hindu Brahmin.
The practice of surya namaskar contains much of the movements in these early morning pujas (ceremonies), such as the raising of the arms together in anjali mudra (a salutation of the highest gesture to the sun) and the contrary reverential bowing forward and touching of the earth.
The many versions of the surya namaskar kriya can encompassing anywhere from 11 to 14 different positions. The video on this page demostrates a simple version known as Aruna Surya Namaskar. Aruna means ‘red’, here signifying that brilliant luminescent warmth and energy of the sun.
The Benefits of Surya Namaskara
The yogis were very cognisant of the healing capacities of the sun’s early morning rays, particularly its beneficial effects on the exocrine and endocrine glands. Therefore, the surya namaskar is an excellent health bath for the exposed body.
Traditionally, it is performed without clothing. Whenever possible then, one should expose as much of the body as possible to the light of the early morning sun. If one is unable to (privately) practice outdoors, in direct presence of the sun’s rays, then one should make every effort to at least maintain the practice at sunrise, still facing toward the east.
If done indoors, it is also good to have a symbol in place of the sun, such as a large orb or circle, or a diagram of the symbol OM, or even a brilliant image of the sun in other artistic form.
Yoga is much more than a group of physical exercises.
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