Surya Namaskar, which is known as “Sun Salutation” in English. Surya Namaskar, an age-old yogic practice, is a comprehensive exercise, which contributes to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Surya namaskara is a series of twelve physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending postures flex and stretch the spinal column through their maximum range giving a profound stretch to the whole body. The namaskar is an obeisance to the Sun God or Surya. Surya namaskar is normally performed early in the morning, at daybreak, or in the evening, when the sun is setting. It is accompanied by a specific breathing pattern and chanting of mantras.
The human being can be thought of consisting of ‘pancha kosas’ (or five sheaths) consisting of the Annamaya (or Body), Pranamaya (or Breath), Manomaya (or Mind), Vijnanamaya (or Intellect) and Anandamaya (or Bliss) sheaths. These same five kosas can be further grouped into Gross (or Sthula), the Annamaya or body sheath, Subtle (or Sukshma) consisting of the pranic, mental and intellectual sheaths and the Causal (or Karana), the Bliss sheath. Properly performed Surya Namaskar impacts and influences all five sheaths – the body, the breath, the mind, the intellect and the bliss – thus providing to the performers of these exercises the benefits for the Sthula (Gross), Sukshma (subtle) and Kaarana (Causal) bodies. Whereas conventional exercises of all forms including aerobic, weight lifting, walking, jogging and running are designed to provide benefits to the physical body and its various component organs including joints and muscles, Surya Namaskar provides benefits of a holistic nature by working on the physical body, praana (breathing), mind, intellect and the bliss components (or kosas) of the entire human personality. In that sense, Surya Namaskar can be considered to be a personality development tool and must be included as part of one’s wellness program.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
- Warms up and prepares the body for asana practice.
- Tones up the digestive system by the alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs.
- It activates digestion and gets rid of constipation and dyspepsia.
- Strengthens abdominal muscles.
- Stimulates pingala/surya nadi which increases energy and stimulates digestion.
- Thoroughly ventilates the lungs, and oxygenates the blood.Helps to detoxify the body.
- Acts as detoxifying agent, by getting rid of enormous quantity of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.
- Promotes sleep and calms anxiety.
- It increases concentration, memory, learning and focusing ability and vigilance.
Increases the prana in the body and helps to remove energy blockages.
Beeja mantras strengthen the heart. The particular breathing sequence strengthens the lungs.
- Lubricates and increases the blood supply to the joints.
- Helps reduce fat.
- In women, stimulates the breasts to help firmness normally. Restores any lost elasticity, through stimulation of glands and the strengthening of pectoral muscles.
- Makes the spine and waist flexible.
Helps to balance the endocrine system.
Useful for weight loss when practiced as an exercise.
- Produces health, strength, efficiency and longevity.
Who should and should not practice Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar Yajna is appropriate for every age group with certain limitations and subject to medical conditions. Pregnant women should not practice after first 3 months. People with high blood pressure or heart disease should consult their physician before practicing Surya Namaskar. People with back pain should also consult physician before practicing Surya Namaskar.