Sun Salutations – A Complete Sadhana

As we head into winter, months of endless grey spells, I feel like Persephone banished to the Underworld. Not a happy bunny. Already, I am dreaming of a time when I will walk into the golden light once again and feel the warmth on my face. When I shall want to skip down the street just because the sun is shining.

So, imagine my joy this morning when I stepped onto my yoga mat and into a band of bright sunlight streaming in from the window. My sun salutations took on a whole new meaning. I was one with the ancient yogis worshiping, honouring and surrendering to the awesome power without which nothing would exist. How grateful I was for its shinning presence in our lives.

                                                “Surya is the soul of all moving and unmoving things” – Rig Veda

Sun Salutations are an integral part of yoga routines, often used as a warm-up exercise. But go deeper and the set of twelve postures become a complete yoga practice condensed into a tiny capsule.

Although
not part of the traditional Hatha Yoga system, the practice of Surya Namaskar
has been handed down by enlightened sages since Vedic times. The sun symbolises
spiritual consciousness and in yoga it represents the Pingala or Surya
nadi,
the energy channel which carries the vital life-giving force. The
practice of Surya Namaskar generates prana, the subtle energy that activates the
psychic body. The more prana we have the healthier we are.

On
a physiological level
,
this dynamic set of 12 asanas (think of it as a carefully designed micro
vinyasa) is a highly effective way of stretching, toning, and strengthening all
the muscles, joints and internal organs of the body. It improves oxygen levels in
the blood and helps strengthen our heart.

It
stimulates and balances all the systems of the body including respiratory, circulatory,
digestive, reproductive, endocrine, and nervous systems.

Scientific
studies have shown regular practice of Surya Namaskar lowers blood pressure,
regulates blood sugar, regulates the menstrual cycle, and resolves symptoms of
PCOS. Improves the condition of skin and hair.

On a psychological level, the practice is both deeply grounding and uplifting and helps relieve both anxiety and depression. It is great for boosting self- awareness and confidence. For building emotional strength.

On
a spiritual level
,
Surya Namaskar can become a complete sadhana or spiritual practice in itself.
As we progress on our yoga journey, the same set of postures can move beyond pure
asana to include pranayama, mantras, and meditation practice. Each of the 12
postures have corresponding mantras which when chanted with breath awareness
lead to a meditative state. Bringing us closer to the essence of being alive
and one with nature.

Contra-Indications

Surya Namaskar should not be practiced by those having very high blood pressure that is not regulated by medicines and by persons with severe heart disease.

Twelve Poses – Twelve Mantras

1. Aum
Mitraya Namah
 
– Pranamasana/Prayer Pose: I salute the one who
is a friend to all.

2. Aum Ravayre Namah -Utthana
Hasthasana/Upward Salute: The shining one, the radiant one.

3. Aum Suryaya Namah 
Padahastanasana or Utthanasana/ Hand to feet pose: Who is the dispeller of
darkness and responsible for all activity.

4. Aum Bhanave Namah – Ashva
Sanchalan asana /Equestrian Pose: One who illumines, the bright one.

5. Aum Khagaya Namah –
Mountain Pose: The all-pervading one who moves through the sky.

6Aum Pushne Namah
-Ashtanga Namaskara/ Eight Limbed pose: The giver of nourishment and fulfilment.

7. Aum Hiranyagarbhaya Namah 
Bhujangasana/Cobra Pose: Who has golden coloured brilliance.

8. Aum Marichaye Namah – Adho Mukha Savasana/Mountain Pose: The
giver of light with infinite number of rays

9. Aum Adityaya Namah – Ashva
Sanchalan Asana/Equestrian Pose: The son of Aditi, the cosmic divine Mother

10. Aum Savitre Namah in
Padahastanasana or Utthanasana/ Hand to feet pose: One who is responsible for
life.

11. Aum Arkaya Namah –
Utthana Hasthasana/Upward Salute: Worthy of praise and glory.

12. Aum Bhaskaraya Namah 
Pranamasana/Prayer Pose: Giver of wisdom and cosmic illumination.