The Classic Surya Namaskara

The Classic Surya Namaskara

In Sanskrit, Surya means Sun and Namaskara means Salutation, so Surya Namaskara directly translates to Sun Salutation. These series of yogaasanas (poses) are some of the best known and most widely practiced poses in the world.

It is important to mention that the Surya Namaskara was not part of the original 12 Hatha Yogasana but was added later on based from the enlightened sages of the Vedic age. There are many theories about the origin of Surya Namaskara, but one thing that all can agree is on the benefits that the practice brings to the body and mind.

Additionally to creating physical strengthen the practice of Sun Salutation also brings the dynamic mediation with the mind focusing in just one point at the time and finally, the awareness of the expanding and circulating energy in the body. Both the Sun and the Moon are important components of the practice of Yoga. You find references to these astrological bodies in many manuscripts as they are directly related to the nadis (energy centers) which carry the vital, life-giving force, prana. This sequence of asanas can be considered a complete sadhana (spiritual practice) in itself because it leads to a balanced energy system at both mental and physical levels. It is a versatile practice that includes yogasanas, pranayama, mantras and meditation techniques.

For beginners, it is easy to grasp the sequence of poses and to see physical progress very quickly, making it an encouraging practice. The mental progress happens simultaneously on the pranic body, though it may take time to tap into the level of mindfulness necessary to be able to realize the positive mental and emotional effects.

In Hatha Yoga, the Surya Namaskara Classic sequence is not to be altered and consists of 12 poses in a rhythmic sequence reflecting 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.

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Classical Surya Namaskara Sequence:

1 – Pranamasana (prayer pose):

Stand on the top of the mat, palms together at heart center.

2 – Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose):

Raise arms above the head with a slight bend on the upper back, instigated by the shoulders pulling back and finger tips pulling up

3 – Padahastasana (hand to foot pose):

Bend forward bring the hands to the feet

4 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose):

Step right leg back, place right knee on the ground and raise the chest keeping the left knee at 90 degrees

5 – Plank:

Step the left leg backward and raise the hips towards the sky for plank pose

6 – Ashatanga Namaskara (salute with 8 limbs parts):

Lower the knee, chest and chin on the ground

7 – Bhujangasana (cobra):

Lift the chest up keeping the legs and hips on the ground, pulling toes to the back wall to encourage chest to lift

8 – Parvatasana (mountain pose):

Step the left leg backward and raise the hips towards the sky (Downward Facing Dog)

9 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose):

Step right leg to the front, place left knee on the ground and raise the chest keeping the right knee at 90 degrees

10 – Padahastasana (hand to foot pose):

Step the left leg forward and raise the hips up keeping the hands to the feet

11 – Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose):

Raise arms raised above the head with a slight bend on the back

12 – Pranamasana (prayer pose):

Stand on the top of the mat, palms together at heart center.

 

Along the years, many variations of Surya Namaskara have been introduced in order to give flow to the asanas. In the Ashatanga Vinyasa style alone, there are 2 versions of the practice and many others have been created to uniquely link different asanas together.

 

On this video, you can see a group of students practicing Surya Namaskara at sunrise in Pokhara, Nepal.

 

Join us on our next Yoga Teacher Training in Nepal Pokhara course to learn more about this practice.

 

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