Surya means sun and namaskara means salutations. Surya namaskara is a series of twelve physical postures which is practiced as an offering to sun, which symbolizes spiritual consciousness. The twelve postures are woven in a manner which gives complete movement to spinal column and other joints and limbs of body. All postures are practiced with breath rhythm which makes practice more complete and profound.
Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation has a special place in all yogic traditions. This is because yoga understands life processes as an intimate interconnection with the cosmos. The sun that we see in the distant sky is not a separate entity but forms a cohesive unit of total life that flourish on Earth. Without sun life will be impossible on Earth. This mutual dependence of life was clearly understood by the ancient yogis who developed this powerful system of Surya Namaskara.
There is ample evidence about the periodic changes on the surface of sun and its correlation with terrestrial phenomena. With this integrated practice of Surya Namaskara we become aware of the effects of the sun on our lives and can attune ourselves with the cosmic nature and revitalize our lives.
Surya Namaskara is a series of 12 physical postures which combines the effects of Yogasana and Pranayama. Surya Namaskara is practiced at sunrise facing the sun. It can also be practiced during sunset. Surya Namaskara flexes and stretches the spinal column and limbs through their maximum range. The series of asanas in Surya Namakara gives such a profound stretch to the whole of body that it becomes a complete form of exercise. In yoga the sun is represented by pingala or surya nadi, the pranic channel which carries the vital, life-giving force. Hence Surya namaskar is an excellent practice of activating prana (life force) in our system.
Surya Namaskara warms-up our body and brings about the general flexibility in the body preparing it for Asana and Pranayama. It helps to revitalize and refresh our body and mind at the dawn so that we can productively utilized the day till dusk. It can be practiced in three different phases. Each phase has its own distinct benefits.
1. Slow pace helps to make body flexible
2. Medium pace helps to tone the muscles
3. Fast pace is excellent cardiovascular workout and also helps in weight loss
Traditional Hatha Yoga Surya namaskara sequence:
Some of the benefits of Surya Namaskara are:
1. Improves blood circulation of the body
2. Promotes regular menstrual cycle
3. It has anti-anxiety and calming properties
4. Massages all the internal organs
5. Balances the autonomic nervous system
6. Generates abundant energy and enthusiasm