Surya Namaskar is an integrated and complete Bharatiya exercise. It not only encompasses the fitness of limbs, muscles and internal organs of the body but also promotes mental and spiritual development. The original significance behind Surya Namaskar is obeisance to the Sun God, the giver of light and warmth and on whose radiant presence is dependant all life on earth. This physical exercise is becoming increasingly popular in Bharat. It is easy to perform and can be carried out anywhere and by both men and women of any age.It is generally practised in early morning on empty stomach facing the sun, after abulation.
Wear loose and light clothes and practice on a clean and firm surface. Follow the correct technique and exercise within the limits of your strength, stamina and suppleness. Cultivate the habit of accuracy and regularity. For optimum bebefit mantra should be repeated either verbally or mentally before the start of each round of the exercise. Each round comprises of ten (or twelve) positions, each of which is a separate Asana itself.
Starting position (Sthiti) Namaskarasana: This is the normal standing position. Face the sun standing upright, legs together and palms joined together in the traditional Hindu way of greeting-Namaste.
Inhale deeply (Poorak) and raise the hands above the head as far as you can bending backwards. After practice this position should resemble a semi circle. Keep the feet firm on ground without bending the knees.
Exhale (Rechak) and bend forward. Try to touch the floor ear the feet. Bring the forehead near the knees. Do not bend the legs at the knees.
Eka (Varna) Pada Prasaranasana:
Inhale (Poorak) and move the left leg away from the body in a long backward step resting it on the toes and the knee. Keep the hands and the right foot firm on the ground in one straight line. Bend the head backward try to look up towards the ceiling.
After inhaling the previous position, hold the breath (Kumbhak). Move the right leg from the body are keeping both feet together and knees off the floor, re on the hands. Keep the body and the arms straight.
Exhale (Rechak) and lower the body on the ground so that the toes, knees, chest, hands and the forehead, touch the ground. Try to lift the abdomen and hips as high off the floor as possible.
Inhale (Poorak) and bend backward, Try to straighten the arms. Stretch the neck to its fullest extent.
Exhale (Rechak) and raise the body. Bend the head and try to look at the knees. The body should form and inverted “V”. Keep the feet and heels flat on the ground.
Eka (Dakshina) Pada Prasaranasana:
Inhale (Poorak) and bring the left foot forward along the level of the hands. Rest is same as position No 3.
Same as position 2. Exhale (Rechak) and bring forward the right leg. the heels and the big toes touching.
Same as the starting position. Hold the breath (Kumbhale. Raise the body in the vertical position and relax.
This finishes one complete Suryanamaskara. In another system a complete Suryanamaskara comprises of 12 positions. There are two additional positions in between the above 4 & 5 and 7 & 8 positions. Knees are bent and rested in the floor without altering the positions of the palms and toes. Forehead is rested on the ground. Inhale while moving backwards and then exhale completely.
Nomenclature of the Asana positions varies in some schools. In position No 3 of the second round of the Suryanamaskara, right-leg should first be moved backward (Dakshina Pada Prasaranasana) and the same be brought forward in position 9, (Vama Pada Prasaranasana). Alternatively, left and right legs be moved first in the subsequent Suryanamaskaras.
Suryanamaskara are dynamic postures which make the body warm. They quicken the blood circulation, tighten the skin and muscles, strengthen the lungs and stimulate the digestive functions. Depression and anxiety can be lifted in just a few minutes by stretching away the tensions which built up in the solar plexus and chest.
This is a set of exercise for one and all, be he a sportsman, a student, a businessman or a housewife. Children also enjoy the easy flowing movements which enhance a general sense of rhythm and natural flexibility.
Meditation or contemplation with the prolonged pronunciation of the Omkar before the Mantras influences and stimulated the nerve centres in the brain corresponding to the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems, makes them more active, efficient and healthy. Excretory, Reproductive, Nervous and Endrenine systems are also strengthened and stimulated in the Suryanamaskara. The different names of the Sun God according to their meanings instil in the person such qualities as he identifies with the supreme and meditates on those
One routine cycle of Suryanamaskaras consists of 13 Mantras, the thirteenth being, AUM SHRI SAVITRU-SURYANARAYANAYA NAMAH
AUM MITRAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the friend of all
AUM RAVAYE NAMAH
Salutations to the Shining one
AUM SURYAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the one who induces activity
AUM BHANAVE NAMAH
Salutations to the one who illumines
AUM KHAGAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the one who moves quickly in the sky
AUM PUSNE NAMAH
Salutations to the giver of strength
AUM HIRANYAGARBHAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the Golden cosmic self
AUM MAREECHAYE NAMAH
Salutations to the Lord of dawn
AUM ADITYAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the son of Aditi
AUM SAVITRE NAMAH
Salutations to the benevolent mother
AUM ARKAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the one who is praiseworthy
AUM BHASKARAYA NAMAH
Salutations to the one who leads to enlightenment
A number of such cycles depending on the strength and stamina of the person may be performed.There are few persons in Bharat who have completed as many as 10 million for suryanamaskars in their lifetime.
The sequential pronunciation of Bijamantras such as Jram, Hrim, Hrum, Hraim, Hroum and Hrah in between OMKAR and the twelve names of the Sun God has further beneficial effects.
Author : Kanu Gohil
This article was previously published in the souvenir to the Bradford Centenary Hindu Marathon. Bradford, UK. 1997