Why are we talking about Surya Namaskar today?

Surya is the Soul of both Moving and Unmoving Things” – The Rig Veda. 

It has an interesting anecdote that I recently experienced. Since Covid struck, life became Online. I must have attended innumerable webinars, talk shows, aerobic classes, music classes, piano classes, corporate presentations, and what to say about countless online sales of dresses, sarees, and jewellery. So, life became online and continues to date. Last month I saw an alert for yoga and Surya Namaskar from a regular post. Aerobics, Zumba, workouts, etc. have been my scene, not yoga or power yoga.

My daughter who is a Yoga enthusiast insisted that I attend it for Surya Namaskar, now I had no choice, so I went ahead. The Instructor and Practitioner –  Ms Anita De Rakshit, conducting the program was quite charming and warm in her demeanour which generated my interest in her talks. She taught Surya Namaskar the traditional way, which was quite a task, as it is quite multi-layered and difficult to grasp in one session. I realized, not my cup of tea. What followed was amazing when she taught us to do Surya Namaskar sitting on the chair with many simple steps. I followed her instructions and loved it. Once, the session was over, I knew how to do it and love doing it now.

“Even after all this time the sun never says to the Earth “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” – Hafiz.

Let me tell you, it is magical. Your mornings become special if you do Surya namaskar and days are full of joy. Could you ask for more?

So, what is Surya Namaskar in short answer?

Surya Namaskar, also called Sun Salutation is an ancient yogic practice of paying respects to the sun. Seven different postures or Asana are done cyclically into a specific 12 steps pattern in a Surya Namaskar.

Why should you practice Surya Namaskar?

The Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation is best practiced early in the morning before sunrise. You will experience many benefits such as physical and mental strength, better command over your body, calmness of the mind, balanced energies, and inner peace. Surya Namaskar is a powerful technique to make you more mindful. Surya Namaskar can be easily done daily with 4-5 sets. You can increase it gradually, with time. If you have any pain in any part of the body, discontinue and consult with a doctor before resuming. Mind you, you need to relax your body after each set.

Besides, many internal benefits, the Surya Namaskar tones the entire body, helps with weight loss, and strengthens muscles and joints. Practice this flow if you want to improve your complexion as it ensures a better functioning digestive system. Improve your sleep as it helps combat insomnia and reduces stress levels.

It allows for the “opening” of the body as it stretches, strengthens, and lengthens all muscle groups. Surya Namaskar stimulates prana, life force energy through the body helping to regulate our mental and physical faculties.

Now, that I have told you in detail about Surya Namaskar, let me tell you the mythology and tradition behind it. As you must be aware in the Vedas, everything in the universe has a male and female side. The female side of the sun is nourishing and life-giving and in Hindu mythology depicted as Gayatri. The male side of the sun is invigorating, energy-giving, and activating, and in Hindu mythology depicted as Surya.

Gayatri can be likened to yin energy and Surya to yang energy. In Sun Salutations our purpose is to warm-up and invigorate the body for the following asana practice.

Opposite to common belief, Surya Namaskara Kriya is practised facing away from the rising sun. The purpose is to receive the stimulating and heating sun on your spine, as you warm up the body with Sun Salutations. Traditionally, one would greet the rising sun with a deep bow and prayer and then turn away from the rising sun to receive energy on the backside of the body.

As Surya gave life to the world through his powerful energy; heat energy energizes the body through the practice of Surya Namaskar.

Various studies are emerging on the investigations of Surya Namaskar and yoga as having physical and mental health benefits. As Western and Eastern medical systems merge, the energetic benefits of Surya Namaskara also emerge.

The practice has mental health benefits too. The consistent practice of Surya Namaskar sharpens one’s ability to focus, improves self-confidence, and helps to develop self-discipline. It calms the nervous system and its consistent practice can contribute to managing anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our light.” – S. Ajna