Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation

The Sanskrit name Surya here refers to’ The Sun’. Namaskara means ‘Salutations’. The Sun symbolises spiritual consciousness and in Asian times was worshipped on a daily basis. In Yoga, Solar energy  is represented by surya Nadi or pingala nadi, the Pranic channel which carries the vital life giving force.

Surya Namaskar is a complete Sadhana, a spiritual practice in itself for it includes asana, pranayama and meditation techniques. It is an excellent group of Asanas with which to start morning practice. Surya Namaskar has a direct vitalising effect on the solar energy of the body. Regular practice regulates the solar power of the body whether it is under or over active. Regulation of solar energy of the body leads to a balanced energy system at both mental and physical level.

Surya namaskara is composed of 3 elements:

  1. Form
  2. Energy
  3. Rhythm

The 12 asanas are the physical Matrix around which the form of practice is woven. Their performance in rhythmic sequence reflects the rhythm of the universe, 24 hours of the day and 12 zodiac phases of the year.

At what time we should practice Sun Salutation

The ideal time to practice Sun salutation is at sunrise, the most peaceful time of the day. Practice in open air, facing the Rising Sun.

Practice at sunset stimulate the digestive fire, therefore, it is also good time.

If we exclude the best time to do, it can be performed anytime provided stomach is empty.

Mantras of sun salutation or Surya Namaskar

Each of the 12 postures of Surya Namaskar or sun salutation has a mantra which can be chanted either audibly or mentally while performing. But, the important thing is to chant them with gratitude.

When Surya Namaskara is performed with mantra, then it is done at a slow pace with awareness of the mantra chanting.

Note:  Do chant the mantras with correct pronunciation, for this, you may refer to this video.

Performing all 12 postures with mantras definitely raises the efficacy and spirituality of sun salutation making it a complete holistic practice balancing one’s body, mind and soul.

How to do Sun Salutation

Stand erect, close your eyes gently and become aware of the whole physical body as one homologous unit. Bring the awareness inside the body and mentally begin to relax it. Take the awareness to the soles of the feet in contact with the floor/mat. Feel that tensions are being pulled down into the ground. Take the awareness to the eyebrow centre and visualise a brilliant rising sun infusing the whole body and mind with its vitalizing and healing rays. Imagine you are facing the early morning sunrise, to practice Surya Namaskar or Sun salutation with smooth synchronised movements, going into one another like a dance.

POSITION 1

Yoga Asana: Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Mitraaya Namaha

Meaning: One who is friendly to all.

Posture: Stand erect, eyes closed, in namaskara mudra (palms joined in front of chest). Relax whole body.

breathing: normal

Awareness:

physical - on chest area.

Spiritual- on eyebrow centre (anahata chakra).

Benefits:

  • Pranamasana helps maintain the balance of the body.
  • Relaxes the nervous system.
  • Establishes concentration and calmness.

POSITION 2

Yoga Asana: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Ravaye Namaha

Meaning: The shining and the radiant one.

Posture: Raise and stretch both the arms, bend the head, arms and upper trunk backwards.

Breathing: Inhale while raising arms.

Awareness:

Physical - on the stretch of the abdomen and expansion of the lungs.

Benefits:

  • Stretches abdominal organs and improves digestion.
  • Tones up arms, shoulders and spinal nerves.
  • Expands the chest resulting in full intake of oxygen.
  • Opens the lungs and removes excess weight.

POSITION 3

Yoga Asana: Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Suryaya Namaha

Meaning: The one who removes darkness and generates energy and movement.

Posture: Bend forward, touch the palms on the ground, try to touch the knees with the forehead. Do not strain. Keep the knees straight.

Breathing: Exhale while bending.

Awareness:

Physical- on the pelvic region.

Spiritual- on swadhisthana chakra

Contraindications: People with back problems should not bend forward fully.

Benefits:

  • Eliminates and prevents stomach ailments.
  • Reduces excess weight on abdomen.
  • Aids in digestion, constipation and blood circulation.
  • Makes spine supple and tones the spinal nerves.
  • Stretches the hamstrings.
  • Opens the hips, shoulders and arms

POSITION 4

Yoga Asana: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Mantra: Om Bhaanave Namaha

Meaning: One who illuminates or the bright one.

Posture: Place the palms of hands flat on the floor beside the feet. Stretch right leg back as far as possible. The left knee keeping left foot on the floor in the same position. Keep the arms straight. Head tilted backward, the back arched, and looks upward to the eyebrow centre.

Breathing: Inhale while stretching right leg.

Awareness:

Physical- from thigh to chest to brow centre.

Spiritual- on Ajna Chakra

Benefits:

  • Improve functioning of abdominal organs.
  • Strengthens the leg muscles.
  • Induce balance in The Nervous System.
  • Makes the spine and neck flexible.
  • Good for indigestion, constipation and sciatica.

POSITION 5

Yoga Asana: Parvatasana (mountain pose/downward facing dog pose)

Mantra: Om Khagaya Namaha

Meaning: One who is all pervading and who moves through the sky.

Posture: Take the left foot back. Raise the buttocks and lower the head. And arms should be straight. Keep the Heels on the floor. Do not strain.

Breathing: Exhale

Awareness:

Physical- on relaxing the hips or on throat.

Spiritual- on vishuddhi chakra

Benefits:

  • Strengthen arms and legs.
  • Improves posture.
  • Stretches the shoulders, chest and spine.
  • Calms the mind.

POSITION 6

Yoga Asana: Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts Pose)

Mantra: Om Pushne Namaha

Meaning: the one who provides nourishment and contentment.

Posture: Lower the knees, chest and chin to the floor. Do not touch pelvic region on the floor. Hip portion should be elevated.

Breathing: Hold the breath out

Awareness:

Physical- on the abdominal region

Spiritual- hold manipura Chakra

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • develops the chest, tones up Spine and Shoulder blades.
  • enhances flexibility of the back and spine.
  • Reduces tension and anxiety.

POSITION 7

Yoga Asana: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha

Meaning: One who has a golden colored brilliance.

Posture: Lower the buttocks on the floor, straightening the elbow,arch the back and push the chest forward into the cobra pose. Head tilted back in between the Brows.

Breathing : inhale while raising

Awareness:

Physical- on relaxation of spine.

Benefits:

  • Keeps the spine supple.
  • Improves blood circulation of back and spine.
  • Tones reproductive organs, stimulates digestion and the Kidneys.
  • stretches the shoulders, chest and back.
  • Increases flexibility.
  • Uplifts mood.
  • Revitalizes the heart.

POSITION 8

Yoga Asana: Parvatasana (mountain pose/ downward facing dog pose)

Mantra: Om Mareechaye Namaha

Meaning: Giver of light with infinite rays.

Posture: Take the left foot back. Raise the buttocks and lower the head. And arms should be straight. Keep the Heels on the floor. Do not strain.

Breathing: Exhale

Awareness:

Physical- on relaxing the hips or on throat.

Spiritual- on vishuddhi chakra

Benefits:

  • Strengthen arms and legs.
  • Improves posture.
  • Stretches the shoulders, chest and spine.
  • Calms the mind.

POSITION 9

Yoga Asana: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Mantra: Om Aadityaaya Namaha

Meaning: The son of Aditi, the cosmic divine mother.

Posture: same as position 4 but this time, with right leg in front.

Breathing: Inhale while stretching right leg.

Awareness:

Physical- from thigh to chest to brow centre.

Spiritual- on Ajna Chakra

Benefits:

  • Improve functioning of abdominal organs.
  • Strengthens the leg muscles.
  • Induce balance in The Nervous System.
  • Makes the spine and neck flexible.
  • Good for indigestion, constipation and sciatica.

POSITION 10

Yoga Asana: Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Savitre Namaha

Meaning: One who is responsible for life.

Posture: same as position 3

Breathing: Exhale while bending.

Awareness:

Physical- on the pelvic region.

Spiritual- on swadhisthana chakra

Contraindications: People with back problems should not bend forward fully.

Benefits:

  • Eliminates and prevents stomach ailments.
  • Reduces excess weight on abdomen.

POSITION 11

Yoga Asana: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

 

Mantra: Om Arkaaya Namaha

Meaning:One who is worthy of praise and glory.

Posture: same as position 2

Breathing: Inhale while raising arms.

Awareness:

Physical - on the stretch of the abdomen and expansion of the lungs.

Benefits:

  • Stretches abdominal organs and improves digestion.
  • Tones up arms, shoulders and spinal nerves.
  • Expands the chest resulting in full intake of oxygen.
  • Opens the lungs and removes excess weight.

POSITION 12

Yoga Asana: Pranamasana (prayer pose)

Mantra: Om Bhaskaraya Namaha

Meaning: Giver of wisdom and cosmic illumination.

Posture: same as position 1.

breathing: normal

Awareness:

physical - on chest area.

Spiritual- on eyebrow centre (anahata chakra).

Benefits:

  • Pranamasanahelps maintain the balance of the body.
  • Relaxes the nervous system.
  • Establishes concentration and calmness.

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How to chant the Sun Salutation Mantras   

  • You can either chant the Sun Salutation Mantras verbally or in your mind.The important thing is to chant them with gratitude.
  • The breath is normal and easy. Be aware of your breathing while chanting the Mantras. This will help regulate the mind.
  • Do chant the mantras with proper intonations. For the correct pronunciation, you may refer to this video.
  • In the Sun Salutation sequence, one set comprises two rounds. One round with the right leg, one with the left. It is ideal to practice twelve sets of Sun Salutation daily. But you can choose whatever number suits you. You can chant a mantra at every step of the twelve step exercise. Alternatively, you can chant one mantra for the whole exercise and perform the exercise 12 times.