Salute to the Sun
Surya Namaskara is a series of twelve
physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending asanas
flex and stretch the spinal column and limbs through their maximum range.
The series gives such a profound stretch to the whole of the body that few
other forms of exercise can be compared with it.
Most beginners will discover stiffness in their bodies from muscular tensions,
tightness in the tendons, and toxic deposits in the joints. Stiffness, lack
of coordination, and the tendency to strain, can all be overcome through
practising very slowly, with emphasis on a awareness and relaxation in each
posture. Whatever little physical effort is applied, then appears effortless.
Regular practice of Surya Namaskara is one of the most rapid methods of
obtaining a supple body.
The practice should be mastered by first
becoming familiar with the postures individually and then as a whole.
Synchronizing the breath with the movements is the next step. When this
is achieved, it will be found that the breathing sequence complements
the postures, and to breathe in any other manner would be awkward and
difficult. The basic breathing principle followed is inhalation during
backward bending postures, due to expansion of the chest, and exhalation
with forward bending postures, due to compression of the chest and abdomen.
Before the practice
Before commencing the practice, stand with the feet together, or slightly
apart, arms relaxed by your side. Close your eyes and become aware of
the whole physical body.
Develop awareness of your body as you would
in the practice of yoga nidra. Starting at the top of the head work your
awareness down through the body, relaxing any tensions you find on the
way. The awareness is like a torchlight piercing into the darkness of
the body. Then develop whole body awareness again. Ask yourself, 'How
do I feel in relation to my body? Am I relaxed, comfortable with myself?
Then adjust your position so that you are more comfortable with yourself.
Feel that you are being pulled upwards by a rope attached to the top of
Now, take your awareness to the bottom of
your feet and feel the soles in contact with the floor. Feel that your
whole body is being pulled downwards by gravity and that all the tensions
from the top of your head are being pulled down through your feet and
into the ground. At the same time be aware of the vital force moving up
through your body, allowing you to maintain a relaxed and comfortable
upright position. Be aware of this for a few moments and then go on to
the practice of Surya Namaskara. Inhale deeply.
The Twelve Postures of Surya Namaskara