Do you know the significance of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)?
Today, Surya Namaskar is sometimes reduced to just a set of preparatory warm-up exercise in a yoga practice. The original understanding of this practice and benefits had been lost because many teachers are not interested in the sacred sentiments of this beautiful practice. I had the fortune of meeting a living enlightened master who revived the body language of yoga according to Patanjali, the father of Yoga. My own practice of Surya Namaskar had been completely transformed when it was practiced with bija mantra, slow breathing, chakra awareness and above all, in deep gratitude and devotion. Let me share it with my readers.
Surya Namaskar is sometimes translated as the eternal salutations to the Sun. Surya means ‘sun’ and Namaskar means ‘salutations’. The practice of Surya Namakar is to awaken our body intelligence to directly create energy from the sun. In the Vedic Tradition, the Sun is symbolic of consciousness and therefore has been worshipped daily in this culture. Our body is equipped with the innate intelligence to produce energy from the sun directly. The premise of this understanding comes from the belief that human body is the ultimate bio-organism on planet earth because it is the most evolved storehouse of the enormous intelligence of all the other bodies on earth. The wisdom of the ages is stored in each and every cell. Every cell in our body actively responds to the internal and external stimuli. If the plants can produce energy directly from the Sun, why can’t man? After all, every human being is made up of the same 5 elements as the Universe.
The Sun Salutation is designed to access the etheric energy all around us. Every morning at dawn, when the sun bursts on the horizon, the air is filled with prana shakti, life energy. When performed facing the East in the first rays of the morning sun along with the appropriate breathing technique and mantra (vibration), the effect on the individual mind, body and spirit is phenomenal.
It is said that a daily practice of Surya Namaskar comprising a complete set of 12 repetitions is enough to reap enormous spiritual benefits. The practice of Sun Salutation is designed to work on all body parts, every organ, every system and every chakra (energy center). It is a moving set of postures (vinyasa) done dynamically with the appropriate breathing. Of all the asana practice, the Surya Namaskar is well known for being the most effective way to limber up, to tone and stretch as well as strengthen the entire body and the spine. It is also the quickest way of touching base with our core inner strength.
- Surya Namaskar Mantra. A mantra is a composition of syllables, words, phrases that when repeated with awareness has a very powerful and penetrating influence on the mind. When done with bija (seed) mantra chanting, it is transformed into a deep cleansing process that ‘unclutches’ our mind from our personal identity. Each mantra ends with “namaha” which refers to surrendering the identity. Whenever we perform Surya Namaskar, our awareness, inner sun throws light on our true identity which is Divinity. Here are the 12 mantra with its meaning.
Om Hram mitraya namaha (Salutations to the Friend of all)
Om Hrim ravaye namaha (Salutations to the Shining One)
Om hroom suryaya namaha (Salutations to One who induces activity)
Om hraim bhanave namaha (Salutations to the One who illumines)
Om hraum khagaya namaha (Salutations to the One who moves swiftly)
Om hraha pushne namaha (Salutations to the Giver of Strength)
Om Hram hiranya garbhaya namaha (Salutations to the Golden Cosmic Self)
Om Hrim mareechaya namaha (Salutations to the Lord of Dawn)
Om hroom adityaya namaha (Salutations to Son of Aditi, the Infinite Cosmic Mother)
Om hraim savitre namaha (Salutations to the Benevolent Mother)
Om hraum arkaya namaha (Salutations to the One who is Praiseworthy)
Om hraha bhaskaraya namaha (Salutations to the One who leads to Enlightenment)
- Seven Charkas. Each asana (posture) in each step of the sequence relates to one of the 7 energy centers (chakras). When performing each asana, the practitioner can put their awareness on the chakra that the posture corresponds to. The cleansing of the chakra happens simply by our awareness which is energy. When the different chakras are blocked by negative thoughts and emotions, it can in turn affect the functioning of the corresponding organs and gland resulting in diseases and physical ailments. When you practice the movements very slowly while bringing the awareness to each chakra, each movement becomes a spiritual practice when you flood each chakra with the positive emotion. Modern day science has proven that the 7 chakras correspond to certain major organs and endocrine glands in the physical body. By flooding awareness to each chakra, we start to enjoy and experience optimum health, well being and freedom from depression and illnesses.
Here are the positive emotions that can help awaken each chakra:
Muladhara chakra (root center at the base of the spine) – Welcome reality
Swadisthana chakra (2 inches below the navel) – Focus on continuity & flow of life
Manipuraka chakra (navel center) – Bring Clarity
Anahata chakra (heart center) – Radiate unconditional love and compassion
Vishuddi chakra (throat center) – Remember your uniqueness
Ajna chakra (between the eyebrows) – Get back to innocence and simplicity
Sahasrara chakra (crown center) – Give gratitude to everything
- A Complete Spiritual Practice. In Sun Salutation, if the poses (asanas), correct breathing and mantra are combined together, it becomes a complete dynamic meditation technique in itself. Surya Namaskar is a complete spiritual practice (sadhana) on its own.
- Health Benefits. A regular practice of Surya Namaskar will allow tremendous healing to happen in us. The heat generated by this practice helps to increase the metabolic rate, boost the immune system and breakdown the energy clots and engraved memories. They also expel toxins from our system to allow a deep cleansing and energising of our inner space to happen.
- Awaken Your Consciousness. By expressing deep gratitude toward the outer sun for the energy it provides to planet earth, one experiences the highest spiritual quality. We also recognize our inner sun – the inner light or consciousness. The inner sun begins to awaken and express its innate intelligence.
So now you have a better understanding of Surya Namaskar, the next time you can try this practice by chanting the bija mantra, and then slow down your movements so that you can bring awareness to your breathing and the specific chakra visualisation with its respective emotion in each posture. You will experience a flowering of a totally new consciousness within you. Namaste.