About Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar , an age-old yogic practice, is a comprehensive exercise, which contributes to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. The namaskar is an obeisance to the Sun God or Surya. Surya namaskar is normally performed early in the morning, at daybreak, or in the evening, when the sun is setting. It is accompanied by a specific breathing pattern and chanting of mantras.
• There are 3 forms of surya namaskar. Surya namaskar A and B are fast-paced and part of Ashtanga yoga.
• Surya namaskar A – This form of yoga comprises 11 steps, to be performed with each leg.
• Surya namaskar B – This form of yoga comprises 19 steps, to be performed with each leg. This form of exercise is characterized by a warrior pose.
• Surya namaskar C – This traditional form of yoga comprises of 12 steps, which is performed with each leg.
There are 12 basic steps of surya namaskar. These steps vary with different types of surya namaskars. The following steps, specific to type C, are performed at a slow pace.
Step 1: Pranamasan
Stand in an erect position, facing the sun, with palms folded near the chest in namaskar. Keep the feet together and breathe normally.
Step 2: Hasta uttanasana
Breathe in, raise the arms upward, and bend backwards with the face pointing upwards and towards the sky. The back should be arched while bending backwards.
Step 3: Pada hastasana
Exhale and keeping knees,straight, bend down till the head touches the knees. The hands should touch the floor on either side of the feet with the palms flush against the ground.
Step 4: Ashwa-sanchalan-asana
Inhale and stretch the left leg backwards, and balance the leg on the toes with the heel raised upwards. The right leg is bent at the knee and the head is lifted upwards to face the sky, while the hands remain stretched with the palms flush against the floor.
Step 5: Parvatasana
Exhale and keeping the palms flush against the ground, the right leg is pushed back to stay parallel with the left leg. The hip is raised with the head bent downwards to face the navel.
Step 6: Ashtanga namaskar
Inhale and lower the hips. The toes, knees, chest, and face touch the floor while the hips are slightly raised.
Step 7: Bhujangasana
Exhale and stretch arms. Lift the chest so the back arches and the head is bent backwards to face the sky.
Step 8: Parvatasana
Exhale and perform as in step 5
Step 9: Ashwa-sanchalan-asana
Inhale and perform as in step 4
Step 10: Pada hastasana
Exhale and perform as in step 3
Step 11: Hasta Uttanasana
Inhale and perform as in step 2.
Step 12: Pranamasan
Bring back the hands in a folded namaskar to the chest, and breathe normally as in step 1.
The steps are repeated once again, using the opposite leg in steps 4 to 9. One round of surya namaskar thus consists of 24 steps. The ideal regimen requires an individual to perform 12 rounds.
Sure, sounds good, you say. But what are Sun Salutation mantras?
Mantras refer to a combination of syllables, sounds, or phrases, which can be chanted or sung. In case of Sun Salutation, they are sung in praise of the Sun. Chanting mantras extends Sun Salutation Benefits; it has subtle yet penetrating effects on both mind and body. There are 12 mantras which praise different qualities of Sun and add a profound spiritual touch to the entire practice.
How to chant the Sun Salutation mantras?
The only rule to remember is to chant them with gratefulness. Each sun salutation mantra has a specific meaning, but it is not important to delve into what each mantra means.
For instance, Om Bhaanve Namaha means ‘one who brings light’. When you recite this mantra, feel a sense of deep gratitude to the Sun for giving us light and making life possible on Earth. Similarly, addressing the Sun as a friend with the chant, Om Mitraaya Namaha, where we look at this glowing ball as our friend.
How to include mantras in Surya Namaskar?
You can either chant the sun salutation mantras verbally or in your mind.
Now let’s see how you can chant the mantras while doing the Sun Salutation sequence. One set of Sun Salutation comprises two rounds – one with the right leg, one with the other. It is ideally recommended to practice 12 sets of Sun Salutation. But you can choose your own number, according to what seems comfortable. If you choose to do 6 sets or more, chant one mantra each at the start of every new sequence. Recite the first mantra as you start one set, finish the two rounds in that set and then start the next set with the second mantra and so on. This way, you would have chanted 12 mantras with 12 sets of Sun Salutation.
If you practice less than 12 rounds of Sun Salutation – 2 or 4 – you can recite one mantra each with every posture in the sequence. This would make it 12 mantras corresponding to 12 poses of Surya Namaskar.
|Sun Salutation Pose||Sun Salutation Mantra||Meaning|
|Pranamasana (Prayer pose)||Om Mitraaya Namaha||Who is friendly to all|
|Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)||Om Ravaye Namaha||The shining one, the radiant one|
|Hasta Padasana (Hand to foot pose)||Om Suryaya Namaha||Who is the dispeller of darkness and responsible for bringing activity|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)||Om Bhaanave Namaha||One who illumines, the bright one|
|Dandasana (Stick pose)||Om Khagaya Namaha||Who is all-pervading, one who moves through the sky|
|Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)||Om Pooshne Namaha||Giver of nourishment and fulfillment|
|Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)||Om Hiranyagarbhaaya Namaha||Who has golden color brilliance|
|Parvatasana (Mountain pose)||Om Mareechaye Namaha||The giver of light with infinite number of rays|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)||Om Aadityaaya Namaha||The son of Aditi – the cosmic divine Mother|
|Hasta Padasana (Hand to foot pose)||Om Savitre Namaha||One who is responsible for life|
|Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)||Om Aarkaaya Namaha||Worthy of praise and glory|
|Tadasana||Om Bhaaskaraya Namaha||Giver of wisdom and cosmic illumination|
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Hatha Yoga is about creating a body that will not be a hurdle in your but a stepping stone towards blossoming into your ultimate possibility. One simple thing you can do to prepare your body before you start your practice is to take a shower or a bath using water that is a little cooler than room temperature. If a certain volume of water flows over your body, or your body is immersed in water that is cooler than room temperature, the epithelial cells will contract and the intercellular spaces will expand. If you use warm or hot water, the pores of the cells will open up and absorb water – that is not what we want. For the practice of yoga, it is important that the cells contract and the intercellular spaces open up, because we want the cellular structure of the body to be charged with a different dimension of energy. If the cells contract and allow space in between, practicing yoga will charge the cellular structure.
Why some people seem to be far more alive than others is essentially because their cellular structure is more charged. When it is charged with energy, it will remain youthful for a very long time. Hata yoga is a way to do that. In South India, tap water is generally just a little cooler than room temperature. If you are in a temperate climate, the regular tap water may be too cold. Three to five degrees centigrade below room temperature would be ideal. A maximum of ten degrees centigrade below room temperature would be acceptable – the water should not be colder than that.S