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Surya Namaskar Yoga- 12 Yoga poses that can change your Life

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Surya Namaskar is a word of Sanskrit origin that roughly translates to ‘Sun-salutation’ or ‘connecting yourself to the sun’. According to ancient texts,  Namaskar is a way of saying that the divine power inside myself bows down in respect of the divinity inside you. Surya namaskar yoga is not just about the physical exercises performed while doing it. The Yoga of Surya Namaskar is more and more about the acknowledgment of life-force, showing gratitude towards it & connecting yourself directly to the source of Life.

When done correctly with a clear consciousness & an appreciation mindset, the 12-yoga poses of Surya-Namaskar have the power to change your Life and fill it with health & prosperity. That being said, it is very crucial that you completely understand the significance of doing this form of Yoga beforehand and know the ‘why?’ of Sun Salutation Yoga.

So, let’s go through the complete Vedic, scientific, physiological, health & historical aspects of Surya Namaskar Yoga.

Vedic connections of Surya namaskar

Although there is no explicit mention of these Yoga poses in Vedas and yogic literature, but the significance and benefits of the Sun are very much discussed in the ancient texts. The 1st Mandala, 9th anuvak 50th Sookta in Rigveda talks about the power of the Sun in curing various physical & mental ailments.

Moreover, in the ancient epic of Valmiki Ramayana, the salutations to Sun are mentioned in the “107th  sarg of Yuddh-kand”. The collection of these 31 verses is most popularly known as “AadityaHridayam”, roughly translating to ‘The Heart of Sun’. In these verses, the Sun is described as the progenitor of the human race, bestower of victory, auspiciousness, and prosperity & the remover of darkness.

Except for Rigveda & Ramayana, the Sun’s significance is also described in “SuryaSatakam”, written by a 7th-century Sanskrit poet and scholar named Mayurbhatta. Legend says that he was suffering from leprosy when he started living under a sacred fig tree. He believed in his heart that the Sun god can only get rid of the disease. So, he began creating one verse daily in the prise of the Sun and decided not to stop until he was cured. But by the grace of the Sun, he is cured very soon.

But by the time, he had already created 100 verses which later got famous in the name of “SuryaSatakam”.

Here, it is worth noting that modern science also advocates the use of sunlight or UV rays in treating aliments like vitiligo & leprosy. So, as mentioned earlier, the legend indirectly points out the disease curing capability of the Sun.

The story about the origin of Surya Namaskar

There is a very popular story inside India about Lord Hanuman – The god of wisdom, strength, courage & self-discipline. This story mentions how Lord hanuman once tried to eat the Sun during his childhood and succeeded. Although Sun is released after the interference of other Gods, the story doesn’t end there.

The story about the origin of Surya Namaskar

Once lord Hanuman entered adulthood, his mother Anjana asked him to again go to Surya dev, i.e., Sun, to learn all the wisdom he gathered roaming every day around the cosmos. Till now, Surya Dev has forgiven Hanuman for his mischief as a kid, but he still told him that he won’t be able to coach him due to his hectic schedule. But, Lord Hanuman insisted. So, Surya Dev said to him that he will teach him, but only if he kept pace with him. As Lord Hanuman was already blessed by Gods with supreme powers of speed & strength, he agreed without any hesitation.

But the problem was that, according to Vedic culture, the disciple was not allowed to show back to his Guru. As a result, lord hanuman had to move in the backward direction facing Surya Dev’s chariot. However, he did this with ease and assimilated all the universe’s knowledge in just 7 days.

As per tradition, lord Hanuman asked Surya Dev about the offering he wants in lieu of his teachings. Then already overwhelmed by the learning capacity & devotion of Hanuman, he denied receiving any. Blessed by his Guru, lord hanuman again & again offered his Namaskar to Suraya Dev and promised to carry out the legacy to earth.

So, that’s the story of Surya namaskar. It is being said that the backward movement of Hanuman facing the Sun is the actual starting point of “Surya Namaskar”. Initially, it contained a large number of yoga postures. Still, over time, it got modified into the 12-Yoga poses that is known today to mankind.

You may have realized that whenever you do Surya Namaskar Yoga, you will find yourself at the end of the Yoga mat after completing every set. And you may require to move again in the forward direction to start again. The same way it might have happened with Lord hanuman.

 Interesting! Isn’t it?

Next, we will discuss how the Surya Namaskar yoga got famous & what are the initial links of this Yoga in the modern world.

The history of Surya Namaskar

The-history-of-Surya-Namaskar

The 17th-century spiritual master & saint Samarth Ramdas believed to have started the practice of Surya Namaskar Yoga. But he doesn’t define the movement involved in doing it.

Later in 1920, Bhawanrao Shriniwasrao Pant Pratinidhi, the king of Aundh, popularized and named the practice, describing it in his 1928 book about the same. Although in his book, he clearly mentioned that he didn’t invent it. He just penned that down, which was already there for centuries.

It is also believed that the saints from south India use to practice Surya Namaskar for a long time. It is an essential part of their daily routine. So, when these sains go elsewhere in India, they use to perform Surya Namskar Yoga at the bank of rivers. When the local people saw them and understood the health benefits, Surya Namaskar got popular.

Scientific & physiological aspects of Surya Namaskar

Although there might be several theories & controversies about Surya Namaskar Yoga, no one can deny the health benefits of this practice. Below are some scientific & phycological facts that will change up your perspective towards this fantastic form of exercise :

  1. Surya Namaskar is cardio like no other. It burns the maximum amount of calories when compared to other regular cardiovascular exercises.
  2. It is mainly performed in the morning sunlight, which is the primary source of Vitamin D for humans.
  3. It is being proven that a bit of sunlight plays a vital role in elevating mental health & getting rid of depression.
  4. The Yoga poses of Surya namaskar are ideal stretching exercises that improve the health of the spine & muscles.
  5. A World Health Organization (WHO) report published in 2006 noted that a markedly more considerable annual disease burden of 3.3 billion DALYs worldwide might result from very low UVR exposure levels.
  6. This article on NCBI talks about the Benefits of Sunlight as a Bright Spot for Human Health.
  7. Performing Surya Namaskar in the morning, when the pollution level is minium, elevates respiratory health.
  8. Morning daylight exposure is tied to a good night’s sleep, says an article published on Reuters.
  9. To practice the Yoga of Surya namaskar, you need to wake up before sunrise. And, I don’t need to tell you that there are dozens of books written on the benefits of waking up early.

Surya namaskar poses variations in different Yogic Systems

Various yogic systems went popular in India in the post-Vedic era. These systems comprehended the Surya Namaskar Yoga in their own way, formulating their own sequence of yoga poses.

Let’s understand some of the different variations of Surya Namaskar Yoga poses that have become most popular. For the convenience of understanding, we have arranged the sequence of poses in the same sequence they need to be performed.

Surya namaskar poses in Iyengar Yoga

The basic sequence of Surya namaskar in Iyengar Yoga is as follows :

  1. Tadasana,
  2. Urdhva Hastasana,
  3. Uttanasana,
  4. Uttanasana with head up,
  5. Adho Mukha Svanasana,
  6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana,
  7. Chaturanga Dandasana,

Now. Reverse the sequence to return to Tadasana.

Surya namaskar in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

There are two ways to perform Surya namaskar in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system :

Type A

  1. Pranamasana,
  2. Urdhva Hastasana,
  3. Uttanasana,
  4. Phalakasana (high plank),
  5. Chaturanga Dandasana,
  6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana,
  7. Adho Mukha Svanasana,
  8. Uttanasana
  9. Back to Pranamasana

Type B

  1. Pranamasana,
  2. Utkatasana,
  3. Uttanasana,
  4. Ardha Uttanasana,
  5. Phalakasana,
  6. Chaturanga Dandasana,
  7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana,
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana,
  9. Virabhadrasana I,
  10. Repeat from Phalakasana onwards with Virabhadrasana I on the other side,
  11. Repeat Phalakasana through to Adho Mukha Svanasana (a third time),
  12. Ardha Uttanasana,
  13. Uttanasana,
  14. Utkatasana, and
  15. back to Pranamasana.
How-to-do-Surya-Namaskar-steps-1

How to do Surya Namaskar

Although there are many Surya Namaskar Yoga variations, the most common practice of Surya Namaskar contains the following 12-steps:

The 12 steps of Yoga to do Surya namaskar

  1. Tadasana (Prayer Pose)
  2. Urdhva Hastasana  (Raised Arms pose)
  3. Padahastasana   (Hand to Foot pose)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana   (Equestrian pose)
  5. Parvatasana (Stick pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Saluting with eight points or parts)
  7. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
  8. Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana   (Equestrian pose)
  10. Padahastasana   (Hand to foot pose)
  11. Urdhva Hastasana  (Raised Arms pose)
  12. Tadasana (Prayer Pose)

Best time to do surya namaskar

Best time to do surya namaskar

The ideal time to practice Surya Namaskar Yoga is within 1 hour of sunrise. So, you need to wake up early and freshen-up before performing Sun Salutation. You need to be on an empty stomach and facing the rising Sun while doing this yoga practice.

If you miss the morning window, you can also practice Surya Namaskar during the sunset. But make sure that you haven’t eaten anything for 3 hours before the practice. Here, you also need to remember that you shouldn’t perform Surya Namaskar after the sunset.

So, that’s all about this Amazing practice of Surya Namaskar. It’s indeed a form of Yoga that should be a part of your daily routine to live a healthy holistic life.

If You like this article you might also want to read these other very informative and interesting articles on Surya Namaskar :


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