Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

The Surya Namaskar is a superbly designed orchestration of movements using twelve yoga poses. It is one of the most widely loved yoga sequences and it is easy to see why; it provides us with so many benefits for a minimal investment of time and effort:

  • The whole front and back of our spine is opened up beautifully
  • All the key joints and muscles in our arms, shoulders, neck, chest, back, stomach, abdomen and legs are moved and stretched
  • Our whole body gets a great cardiovascular workout
  • Stimulates and strengthens our digestive, elimination and respiratory systems
  • Our mind learns to focus and to calm down as we practice with awareness – one technique for this is to focus on our breath as we flow through the poses
  • We connect spiritually with the sun and the universal energy that it provides, encouraging us to receive with gratitude and humility

 

A word of precaution for those who have not previously experienced Surya Namaskar before: It can be physically fairly demanding, requiring strength, stamina and suppleness.  As with all yoga practices, please remember to listen to and respect the body at all times. Work within your limits, at a pace that suits you.

 

The Chi Kri Sun Salutation Videos

 

Video 1:  Gentle Version on Right Side with Instructions

 

Video 2:  Stronger Version on Left Side with Instructions

 

Video 3:  One Round on Each Side at Faster Pace

 

Video 4:  Neil Patel Performing Sun Salutations on Beach

 

 

Alternative Version of Sun Salutation

The twelve poses of this alternative version are summarised below. There are some variations, depending upon who has introduced this sequence; here we offer our suggestion, but feel free to modify it to suit your needs.

  1. Mountain pose with hands in Namaste (on exhalation).
    Before beginning the movement for the very first time, close the eyes for a few moments and offer your gratitude to the Sun for everything that it provides.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the friend of all”.

  1. Standing Backward Bend with arms raised (on inhalation).
    Precaution: Do not go deep into the back bend as this position does place pressure on the lower back.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the source of illumination”.

  1. Standing Forward Bend (on exhalation)
    Ideally the palms should be flat on the mat with fingers in line with the toes,with the chin tucked in towards the chest and the head close to the knees.If this is not possible with straight legs then allow the knees to bend slightly and also consider placing the palms in front of the feet.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the Lord of the Heavens”.

  1. Lunge, which is a variation of the Equestrian (on inhalation)
    Two variations are shown here, one with the back knee on the floor, and the other with the back leg straight.In this example, the right leg is taken back. Again, there are different variations and you could elect to take the left leg back instead. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you make sure that both legs have gone back and come forward (see step 9) by the time you have completed a full round.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the remover of the darkness of my ignorance”.

  1. Plank (suspend the breath or on next inhalation)
    If holding plank is too difficult then allow the knees to come down onto the mat.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to that which helps me make progress”.

  1. Eight-Pointed Bow (on exhalation)
    The eight points in contact with the mat are: feet, knees, palms, chest and chin. Try to arch the spine with the tailbone raised up.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the source of my strength”.

7. Cobra (on inhalation)

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the creative force that gave rise to the universe”.

  1. Downward Facing Dog (on exhalation)

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to that which helps me to separate the false from the truth”.

  1. Lunge (on inhalation)
    See step 4. You can bring the same leg forward as the one you took back in step 4 (which would be the right leg in this case), or the opposite leg. It doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent and work with the opposite leg(s) in the next half of the round.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the son of the cosmic mother”.

10. Standing forward bend (on exhalation)
See step 3.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the vivifying power of the sun”.

11. Standing back bend (on inhalation)
See step 2.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to the source of energy”.

12. Mountain pose with hands in Namaste
(on exhalation to the sound of ‘om’)
See step 1.

Spiritual aspect: “I bow to that which will help to enlighten me”.

Closing Notes

This completes one half of the full round. Repeat the above twelve steps, but with the opposite leg for steps 4 and 9 so that both sides are worked equally.

 

The number of rounds and duration of practice depends upon your capacity and the time you have available. Start with a few rounds, eg 3 on each side, and build up from there.

 

Allow some time to relax in Savasana at the end, which is the ideal way to allow the energy flowing within you to settle.

(Note: Photographs taken at Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore: www.shreyasretreat.com)