The Sanskrit name Surya here refers to the sun and namaskar means ‘salutations. Surya namaskar has been handed down from the enlightened sages of the Vedic age and this can become a type of morning meditation for you. The sun symbolizes spiritual consciousness and in ancient times was worshipped on a daily basis. In yoga, the sun is represented by Pingala or Surya Nadi, the pranic channel which carries the vital, life-giving force.
This dynamic group of asanas is not a traditional part of hatha yoga practices as it was added to the original asana group at a later time. However, it is an effective way of loosening up, stretching, massaging, and toning all the joints, muscles, and internal organs of the body. Its versatility and application make it one of the most useful methods of inducing a healthy, vigorous, and active life, while at the same time preparing for spiritual awakening and turning into a morning meditation method as well.
Surya Namaskar is a complete sadhana, spiritual practice, in itself for it includes asana, pranayama, mantra, and meditation techniques. It is an excellent group of asanas with which to start your morning meditation.
Surya namaskar has a direct vitalizing effect on the solar energy of the body which flows through Pingala Nadi. Regular practice of Surya namaskara regulates Pingala Nadi, whether it is underactive or overactive. Regulation of Pingala Nadi leads to a balanced energy system at both mental and physical levels.
SUN SALUTATION BALANCES ZODIAC ENERGIES
Sun salutation becomes an effective morning routine as it generates prana, the subtle energy which activates the psychic body. Its performance, in a steady, rhythmic sequence, reflects the rhythms of the universe; the twenty-four hours of the day, the twelve zodiac phases of the year, and the biorhythms of the body. The application of this form and rhythm to the body-mind complex generates the transforming force which produces a fuller and more dynamic life.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR SUN SALUTATION
Before adding Surya namaskara to your morning meditation practice, carefully observe the contra-indications.
The practice of Surya namaskar should be immediately discontinued if a fever, acute inflammation, boils, or rashes occur due to excess toxins in the body.
When the toxins have been eliminated, the practice may be resumed.
Sun Salutation includes semi-inverted postures, so the cautions for inverted postures apply. It should not be practiced by people suffering from high blood pressure, or coronary artery diseases, or by those who have had a stroke, as it may overstimulate or damage a weak heart or blood vessel system.
It should also be avoided in cases of hernia or intestinal tuberculosis. People with back conditions should consult a medical expert before commencing this practice. Conditions such as slipped disc and sciatica will be better managed through an alternative asana program.
During the onset of menstruation, this practice should be avoided. If there are no adverse effects, the practice may be resumed towards the end of the period.
During pregnancy, it may be practiced with care until the beginning of the twelfth week. Following childbirth, it may be commenced approximately forty days after delivery for re-toning the uterine muscles.
THREE MAJOR BENEFITS OF SUN SALUTATION
It strengthens the back and helps balance the metabolism.
It stimulates and balances all the systems of the body, including the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems.
Its influence on the endocrine glands helps to balance the transition period between childhood and adolescence in growing children.
QUICK TIP TO TURN IT INTO A MORNING MEDIATION
Synchronizing the breath with the physical movements of Surya namaskara ensures that the practitioner, at least for a few minutes daily, breathes as deeply and rhythmically as possible, increasing mental clarity by bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain.
BEST TIME TO PRACTICE SUN SALUTATION
The ideal time to practice Surya namaskara is at sunrise, the most peaceful time of day, or sunset. Whenever possible, practice in the open air, facing the rising sun. Surya namaskara, however, may be practiced at any time provided the stomach is empty.
AWARENESS PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE TO MAKE IT A MORNING MEDITATION
Before commencing the practice, stand with the feet together or slightly apart, and the arms hanging loosely by the sides of the body. Close the eyes gently and become aware of the whole physical body as one homogeneous unit. Minimize swaying movements and balance the body weight equally on both feet. Take the awareness to the soles of the feet in contact with the floor.
Feel that the whole body is being pulled downwards by gravity and that any tension is being pulled down through the body and into the ground. At the same time, experience the vital force surging up from the earth and flooding the whole being.
Bring awareness inside the body and the mind begin to relax it. Starting from the top of the head, take the awareness systematically through all the parts, releasing any tension. Intensify, once more, the awareness of the whole physical body and feel in harmony with it.
Finally, take the awareness to the heart or eyebrow center and visualize a brilliant, red rising sun infusing the whole body and mind with its vitalizing and healing rays.
DURATION THAT HELPS IT MAKE A MORNING MEDITATION PRACTICE
For spiritual benefits, practice 3 to 12 rounds slowly.
For physical benefits, practice 3 to 12 rounds more quickly.
Beginners should start with 2 or 3 rounds and add one more round every few weeks to avoid fatigue. Advanced students may practice a larger number of rounds; however, strain should be avoided at all times.
In special cases, a daily practice of 108 rounds may be undertaken for purification, but only under the guidance of a competent teacher.
UNDERSTANDING OF BEEJ MANTRA FOR SUN SALUTATION
As an alternative to the twelve names of the sun, there is a series of bija mantras or seed syllables. Bija mantras do not have any literal meaning but set up powerful vibrations of energy within the mind and body. The six bija mantras are repeated consecutively in the following order, four times during a complete round of Surya namaskara:
- Om Hraam
- Om Hreem
- Om Hroom
- Om Hraim
- Om Hraum
- Om Hrah
Bija mantras are used when Surya namaskara is practiced too fast to repeat the sun mantras, or to deepen the practice.