By- Khushi Bisht
For millennia, many ancient civilizations around the world practiced sun worship, because the sun brings energy to all life forms on the earth and its rays are essential for life to survive. There would be no life on Earth without the sun. In Hinduism, ‘Surya’ is considered as the sun god. He is said to conquer the darkness by riding through the sky in his chariot drawn by seven horses. He is revered as the root of all creation and the ultimate spirit who fills the earth with warmth and light. As a result, he is regarded as the supreme source of life and energy.
Surya Namaskara, also known as Sun Salutation (‘Surya’- Sun and ‘Namaskara’- Greeting) is an ancient method of paying homage to and showing reverence to the sun, which is the root of all life on the earth.
The ancient Indian Rishis (Sages) claimed that various Devas (Divine Beings) regulate various parts of our bodies. Our body’s focal point is the ‘Solar Plexus’, which is centered behind the navel. It is linked to the sun and is also recognized as the body’s second brain. The rishis suggested the Surya Namaskara practice because it strengthens the solar plexus and improves one’s intellect and ingenuity.
Surya Namaskara is intended to help people find their core and link to cosmic intelligence as well as show reverence. This technique consists of twelve yoga asanas (poses) invented and passed down by ancient Vedic sages. These asanas work together to reconcile the body, brain, and breath and are done with one’s face towards to rising sun each morning as a way of expressing gratitude for the root of existence.
The 12 Surya Namaskara asanas are mentioned below, along with the order in which they should be performed.
1. Pranamasana: The Prayer Pose
Surya Namaskara, begin with Pranamasana, or the Prayer Pose. It is a praying posture in which the hands are clasped together. ‘Pranam’ is a Sanskrit term that means ‘respectful salutation,’ and asana is a yoga posture. As a result, the hands are pulled close, in front of the chest, when welcoming or bowing to others. Inhale as you raise your arms to the sides and exhale as you pull your hands down in front of your chest. “Om Mitraya Namaha” is the mantra chanted during the first pose.
2. Hasta Uttanasana: Raised Arms Pose
The raised arms posture, Hasta Uttanasana, is the second and eleventh asana in the Surya Namaskara sequence of asanas. This pose improves digestion by toning the abdominal organs. To perform this pose, stand straight and lift both arms. To build a gentle curve, bend the trunk and head backward. Inhale deeply when lifting your arms. The limbs are raised and the trunk is bent backward at the same time. The aim of this posture is to stretch your whole body up from your heels to your fingertips. You should recite the mantra “Om Ravaye Namah” when doing the second pose.
3. Padahastasana: Hand to Foot Pose
Padahastasana is the third step in Surya Namaskar. To do this pose, exhale, lean over and reach your fingertips to your toes while holding your spine straight. If you can’t reach your toes, bend your knees to reach them while keeping your back upright. It strengthens the thighs and knees while still promoting flexibility in the waist and spine. When doing this pose, chant “Om Suryaya Namaha.”
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Equestrian Pose
‘Ashwa’ means ‘horse’ and ‘Sanchalan’ means ‘movement’ in the Sanskrit Language. Inhale, step your right leg back. Bend the right knee and then slightly stretch it out as you lower it to the ground. The torso and hands are raised. Lengthen your neck by looking ahead. The leg muscles are strengthened, and the back and neck are made more flexible, in this posture. “Om Bhaanave Namaha,” recite this mantra while doing this pose.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana: Stick Pose
‘Chaturanga’ means ‘four limbs,’ and ‘Danda’ means ‘staff of support’ (referring to the spine) in Sanskrit. As a result, it’s also called the Four-Limbed Staff Pose. Take a deep breath and get the right leg back, then get into the plank position. Maintain perpendicularity of the shoulders, elbows, and wrists to the surface. Bring your whole body into a straight line by straightening your spine. This pose stretches the shoulders, spine, and chest while strengthening the arms and back. It relaxes the mind. Chant “Om Khagaya Namaha” when doing this pose.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara: Salute with Eight Parts Pose
‘Ashta’ means ‘eight’, ‘Anga’ means ‘part’, and ‘Namaskara’ means ‘salutation’ in Sanskrit. Surya Namaskara’s sixth step strengthens back flexibility and arm strength while also opening the chest. Low your knees to the floor from the plank posture. Maintain a steady breathing pattern during the pose. Lower your chest and chin to the ground, with your arms settling directly over your hands. Maintain a tight grip on your sides with your elbows. Your toes are tucked under and your buttocks remain high. Stay in the pose for one to five breaths. When doing this pose, chant “Om Pooshne Namaha.”
7. Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
You’ll be heading into this pose from knees, chest, and chin if you’re in the midst of a Sun Salutation. Lie flat on your stomach with your chin resting on the ground. Straighten your legs and keep your hands close to the body with your palms touching the surface. Breathe in, raise your chest off the floor, following your upper back, by slowly straightening your arms. Maintain a neutral neck position. Don’t turn it up all the way. Your eyes should be fixed on the ground. This posture increases stability and stretches the shoulders, chest, and spine. Chant “Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha” while doing this pose.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward-Facing Dog Pose
It improves circulation and strengthens the core. This rejuvenating posture helps to stretch the entire body. Maintain the position of your hands and feet. Exhale and softly raise your hips. Straighten your knees and elbows. Allow your head to hang freely, releasing any tension in your spine, and direct your eyes at your feet. When doing this pose, keep chanting “Om Marichaya Namah.”
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana: High Lunge Pose
To do this, inhale deeply and step your right foot forward between your hands, bringing your left knee back to the ground. Look up as you lower your hips. For more knowledge, see step 4 of the Sun Salutation. Chant “Om Aditya Namah” when doing this pose.
10. Padahastasana: Hand to Foot Pose
This pose requires you to breathe out slowly and lean down with your toes aligned. For more details, see step 3 of the Surya Namaskar. When doing this pose, chant “Om Savitre Namah.”
11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Take a deep breath and lift your entire body. Lift your arms above your head and join your hands. And, just as in step 2, bend backward. When doing this pose, chant “Om Arkaya Namah.”
12. Pranamasana: Prayer Pose
Surya Namaskara comes to an end with this pose. Take a deep breath out and stand up and calm. Lower your arms to your sides and place your hands in front of your chest. For more details, see Surya Namaskar step 1. Chant “Om Bhaskaraya Namah” while doing this pose.
Surya Namaskar contains asana, pranayama, chant, and meditation, making it a full spiritual activity in and of itself. The Surya Namaskara mantras can be chanted orally or mentally. What matters is that you chant them wholeheartedly. While Surya Namaskar can be performed at any moment of the day, the best and most effective time is at dawn, when the sunlight revitalizes your body and clear your head. Daily practice helps to regulate the body’s energy supply on both an emotional and physical basis, preparing the individual for higher consciousness.