Surya = Sun Namaskar = How you doin?
Yoga is spreading like wildfire not just in India but all across the globe. People are twisting their limbs, voluntarily, in ways that would make a contortionist blush. As you can see, it’s hard looking like the Letter T.
But you know how everybody says all the Beatles are equally nice but secretly like Lennon the most? Well, the same goes with Yoga. The Salute to the Sun, or the Suryanamaskar seems to have gained more popularity than other aspects of yoga. And not just with humans, there’s a Chihuahua who does a mean downward dog. A graceful bear in Finland with a regular morning routing. And a mildly disturbing horse.
For those of you who don’t exactly know what a Suryanamaskar entails, it is a complete Sadhana (practice), inclusive of Yogasana ( exercise ), Mantra ( sound longitudinal waves ), Pranayama (breathing) and Chakra meditation ( scalar energy vortex transceiver ). In effect, it’s going to touch you in places you’ve never been touched before. Each of these represents a layer of depth at which the 12 poses that constitute the sun salutation can be practiced—from mere physical movement to a complete healing meditation. The practice is also typically done 12 times per side—so 24 times in total—each round a tribute to the 12 names of the sun.
To go back to the very beginning, the suryanamaskar has its history in the Vedas, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures, which prescribed a morning tribute to the sun. Turns out there’s science behind the spirituality. At its core, and as its very name suggests, the suryanamaskar is about the Sun— which sustains life on the planet and is our primary source of warmth and light. It gives us the Vitamin D we need to build our bones, and the serotonin we need to stay happy and productive. It is what American astronomer Charles Young described: “…it alone, among the countless myriads, is near enough to affect terrestrial affairs in any sensible degree; and its influence upon them is such that it is hard to find the word to name it.”
“Surya is the Soul, both of the moving and unmoving beings” — The Rig Veda
Fast-forward a few hundred years and we find that Yoga has not only gained popularity all around the world, but the planet seems to be gravitating towards Suryanamaskar. Why is that? What’s so special about that particular asana?
Need a break from Yoga? Watch model-turned-YouTube Yogi Tara Stiles doing more yoga, but all slow and sexy and stuff.
It’s a great warm up and exercise routine, yes. But it’s also a lot more than that. It improves the circulation of blood throughout the body and helps in ensuring a disease-free body. It also offers benefits for the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory system. It is also said to have an effect on your solar-plexus which is the area above the navel. Solar – sun – Surya. See what’s happening here? We didn’t make this up. It supposedly helps to develop your gut feeling or your sixth sense.
Think About It
Why is surya namaskar (sun salutation) central to the practice of yoga? Why the sun and not the moon? What are its various physical and spiritual touch points? And is there a science to keeping the sun central to your yogic pratice?
About the Authors
Tanushri Shukla is a knitter of things and teller of stories. Also a Product Manager at RebelMouse and co-founder of Chindi.
Jonathan Dias freelances for magazines and papers like Maxim and the Herald, writing about women, food and gadgets. He is also attempting to write a cook book that involves a lot of bacon and beer.