Introduction to Surya Namaskar
Today, many researchers spend time on observing the various benefits of the age old practice of yoga. Ancient India gurus handed over the legacy of Yoga to the modern day researchers to quantify and find answers to numerous questions, thus making sense of each movement and technique. Surya Namaskar being one of those popularly discussed techniques is used as an opening routine to begin the yoga session by many masters because of its many health benefits.
Mostly referred to as Sun Satulation, the Surya Namaskar originated in India thousands of years ago. ‘Surya’ means the sun and ‘namaskar’ means bow down in respect. Sages of the Vedic Age handed over the ultimate and beneficial yoga exercise routine in the form of a alternating cycle of asanas. Sun has been worshipped since times immemorial by one and all, all over the world as the symbol of Spiritual Consciousness. It is also considered as the life force or the pranic channel, or the ‘pingala’ or surya nadi which carries the vital life force. Thus, Surya Namaskar is a dynamic group of asanas, which are effective way of loosening up, stretching, massaging and toning all joints, muscles and internal organs of the body. Surya Namaskar is versatile and practice of Surya Namaskar induces a healthy, vigorous and active life, calms the mind and prepares us for spiritual journey, expansion of mind and awareness. Surya Namaskar revitalizes the pingala nadi, and has direct effect on the solar energy of the body. An excellent group of asanas which if done early in the morning, is actually a complete group in itself, for it includes, asanas, pranayama, mantra and meditation techniques. Regular practice of surya namaskar channelizes and balances the body at both physical and mental levels.
Form, rhythm and energy are the elements that make up Surya namaskar. There are twelve asanas which when done in a rhythmic fashion, depict not only the universal rhythm but also the biorhythm of the body and channelize the energy-‘prana’ bringing in an energetic body and a balance in the body and mind. Sunrise is the ideal time to practice Surya Namaskar. It is the best time to practice yoga in an open area preferably empty stomach to achieve the ideal results
Surya Namaskar is a practice of twelve asanas to be done in a sequence with concentration and awareness. Keep the body relaxed, feet together slightly apart, arms hanging along the side, eyes closed and being aware of the flow of breathing. Being aware of the breathing is important-Inhale when stretching and exhale when bending. Concentrating not only on the pineal gland or the third eye but on all the chakras one after the other energizes and channelizes these chakras. Feel the alignment in every part of your body.
The sequence of asanas their focus and benefits of the asanas of Surya Namaskar are:
Pranamasana or prayer pose is the starting position. Redirect your awareness to the chest area or the anahata chakra. This position is important as it brings calmness.
Hasta Utthanasana: This position stretches the abdomen, and expands the chest, with awareness on the visuddhi chakra. This stretch opens up the lungs and abdominal region, improving the digestion.
Padahastasana: Direct your awareness on the pelvic region, and channelize the Swadhisthana chakra.It is beneficial for treating abdominal afflictions, improving blood circulation and increasing vertebral flexibility.
Ashwa Sanchalasana: Be aware of your thighs, chest and concentrate between the brows or the ajna chakra. This pose strengthens the hamstrings and improves abdominal organs.
Parvatasana: This pose helps in strengthening the muscles and nerves of legs, and arms. It tones the back by directing the awareness on the hips and opening the visuddhi chakra.
Ashtanga Namaskara: This position strengthens the curvature of the spine by focusing on the manipura chakra.
Bhujangasana: A very dynamic asana which massages the spine making it supple, improves the blood circulation to the lower body and tones the muscles of the reproductive system. Remember to correctly stretch the neck and being aware of the point between your eyes. The stretch on the neck also stretches the thyroid gland.
Repeat the entire cycle with the other leg.
Many yogis advise beginners to try every asana individually before stringing them all together and performing the entire routine. Every pose in the Surya Namaskar is designed to focus on a specific body portion thus affecting the same Surya namaskar has great benefits by not only making the body supple, flexible but helps in maintaining the toning and helps in weight loss. It helps to balance the systems especially the endocrine system. It is helpful in channelizing the pineal and the hypothalamus. Doing the shavasana after the practice of Surya Namaskar asanas brings good health and makes one disease free.