Is there a universal kind of exercise, right for all ages, for children and women as well as for men, costing nothing, and capable of being performed in a short time, without accessories, at any moment, any where? There is, and it is called Surya Namaskar.
What is Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation?
The Meaning of Surya Namaskar
The oldest form of worship on this planet would have to be the worship of the core of natural existence, the Sun, the great star that centres the section of the solar system in which humans live. Ancient man was very close to nature in worshiping the sun. Modern man has lost his appreciation to some degree. He searches for a source of inexhaustible energy to supply the endless greed of consumer man. This need is now forcing science to look to the sun as a source of future power and energy. That the sun has at all times been the essence of the very energy that humans need inwardly and outwardly is now beginning to dawn upon even the so-called educated man.
Surya Namaskar – an Ancient Sun Ritual
‘Surya Namaskar’ literally translated ‘Sun obeisance’ or ‘sun prayers’ or Prostrations to Sun or Sun Salutation. They go back thousands of years. Then, as now, man looked to the sun for light, warmth, health, hygiene and food. The sun purified things that had accumulated disease germs in the dark. The sun caused the growth and ripening of grain, fruit, and other foods by which man strained life. To early men, sun was the life giver, and the thinkers and sages of India thousands of years ago showed their gratitude by making obeisance at the rising and the setting of the sun. They bowed to the sun as you would today to one who had bestowed so many priceless gifts on humanity.
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is anathema to many westerners because they do not rightly understand it. But the great German philosopher and scientist, Ernst Haeckel, knew the reality which lies behind Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation.
“The sun is the deity of light and warmth, on whose influence all organic life insensibly and directly depends, Sun worship or surya namaskar seems to the modern scientist to be the best of all forms of theism. Modern astrophysics have taught us that earth is a fragment detached from the sun, and that it will be eventually return to the bosom of its parent. Indeed the whole of our bodily and mental life depends, all other organic life, on the light and heat of the sun. As a matter of fact the sun worshippers attained thousands of years ago a higher intellectual and moral standard than most of the other theists. When I was in Bombay 1881 I watched with the greatest sympathy the elevating rites of the pious parses, who standing on the seashore, or kneeling on their prayer rugs, offered their devotion to the sun at its rise and setting”
The History of Sun Salutation
In Yuddha Kanda of the Ramayana, Lord Rama, after ceaseless battle with Ravana, is not able to kill him and is perplexed. At that time the Devas, who have assembled in the sky, advise Rama to approach Sage Agasthya for help. Agasthya teaches Lord Rama Adityahṛdayam and Rama is able to kill Ravana and rescue Sita.
The verses used in Aditya Prasna are taken from the first chapter of Yajur Veda, Taittiriya Aranyakam, which is also referred to as Surya Namaskara Chapter. The Aditya Hridayam is popularly chanted in South India. There are 132 Anuvakas in this chapter. Sun salutations with prostration are usually performed after recitation of every Anuvaka. The Surya Namaskara chapter is the first chapter in the Taittiriya Aranyaka of Krishna Yajur Veda.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar | Benefits of Sun Salutation
1. It is found that, Surya Namaskara, if regularly performed, render these 3 organs capable of resisting diseases.
- Digestive organs, including stomach, liver, intestines etc.
- Heart and lungs: cold, coughs, asthma, tuberculosis etc.
- The nervous system including the brain and spinal cod.
2. Normalization of the immune function as per the individual needs.
3. Improvement in cardio-respiratory function with prevention and control of respiratory and cardiac conditions.
4. Activation of a sluggish neuro-endocrine system with normalizing of metabolic function.
5. Improvement of general posture with creation of a strong and flexible spine.
6. Skeletal musculature function is enhanced in both the upper and lower limbs.
7. Improved circulation to the whole spinal and para spinal area.
8. Helps strengthen muscles and joints
9. Helps cope with insomnia: The Surya Namaskara asanas will help calm your mind, giving you a good sleep.
10. Strengthen muscles and joints.
11. Ensures regular menstrual cycle: Sun salutation can also be beneficial for women who are suffering from irregular menstrual cycles as it helps regulate it.
12. Lower blood sugar Level: Surya Namaskar also aid in bringing down your blood sugar levels
13. Sun salutation helps you to lose weight.
14. Strengthens the heart
12 Steps of Surya Namaskar with Pictures
How To Do Surya Namaskar Step By Step With Images | 12 Poses Of Surya Namaskar
Step 1: Pranamasana – Prayer pose
Mantra: Aum Mitraya Namah
Stand facing the direction of the sun with your feet together. Bring your palms together, palm to- palm, at the heart. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders.
Breathing: Inhale as you lift hands from the side and exhale when you bring your both palms together at chest
Step 2: Hastauttanasana – Raised arms pose
Mantra: Aum Ravaye Namah
Inhale and rise hands upward, slowly bend backward with the biceps close to your ears. Stretch the whole body from heels to the tip of fingers.
Step 3: Hasta Padasana – Hand to foot pose
Mantra: Aum Suryaya Namah Exhale, slowly bend forward from the waist, touch the earth with head touching the knees keep the spine erect.
Step 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana – Equestrian pose
Mantra: Aum Bhanave Namah
Breathing in and move your right leg back in a wide backward step, raise the head and look towards the sun.
Step 5: Dandasana – Stick pose
Mantra: Aum Khagaya Namah
As you inhale, take your left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line.
Step 6: Ashtanga Namaskara – Salute with eight parts or points
Mantra: Aum Pushne Namah
Slowly bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. In Ashtanga Namaskara Yoga Pose feet, knees, thighs, chest, forehead touch the ground with the hands stretched out. Take the hips back slightly.
Step 7: Bhujangasana – Cobra pose
Mantra: Aum Hiranyagarbhaya Namah
Breathing in and slowly raise your head and bend backward as much as possible, keep your shoulders away from the ears. Look up.
Step 8: Adho Mukha Svanasana – Mountain pose
Mantra: Aum Marichaye Namah
While exhaling, raise your hips and tail bone up and align the head with the arms. Keep your knees and hands straight.
Step 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana – Equestrian pose
Mantra: Aum Adityaya Namah
Inhale and bring the right leg forward in between the two hands. Raise your head.
Step 10: Hasta Padasana – Hand to foot pose
Mantra: Aum Savitre Namah
Exhale, bring the left foot forward. Touch touch the earth with head touching the knees keep the spine erect. . You may bend the knees, if necessary.
Step 11: Hastauttanasana Raised arms pose
Mantra: Aum Arkaya Namah
Breathing in and raise the arms upward, slowly bend backward with the biceps close to your ears. Stretch the whole body from heels to the tip of fingers.
Step 12: Tadasana
Mantra: Aum Bhaskaraya Namah
While breathing out, first straighten your body, then bring the arms down.
The above 12 steps of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation routine are to be completed for both side of the body. That is one for right side and one for left side. This is then known as 1 complete round of surya namaskar.
*Image Courtesy: Artofliving.org
How Many Surya Namaskar a Day
- Children from 8-12, with normal health, should be do form 25 – 50 surya namaskar daily.
- Boys and girls from 12 -16 should do generally from 50-100.
- Persons above 16 should gradually increase the number of sun salutations according to their capacity.
- After 65 or 70, however one should do till death as many one’s bodily condition will allow.
Why practice 108 Surya Namaskar?
Importance of 108:
- The number 108 has been considered as a sacred number in Hinduism. Traditionally a Jaba mala come as a string of 108 beads plus one guru bead.
- The Jaba mala is used for counting prayers, mantras and chants.
- The number 108 connects Earth, Moon and the Sun, the average distance of Earth to Moon and Sun is 108 times their respective diameters.
- There are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to and from Anahata chakra (heart).
- There are 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points in the body.
- There are 54 letters in Sanskrit. Each alphabet has a masculine and a feminine part, that is Shiva and Shakti. 54 X 2 = 108.
- There are 108 Divya Kshetras of Lord Vishnu
- According to Hinduism, there are 108 sacred sites in India.
- Also in Mathematics 1 X 2 X 2 X 3 X 3 X 3 = 108
- 108 is divisible by the total number of its divisors (12)
108 Sun Salutation Challenge For Weight Loss
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|Week 1||4 sets||8 sets||12 sets||16 sets||20 sets||24 sets||Rest|
To gain the desired changes, Surya Namaskar must be done systematically. They are not a rope-dancer’s antics. They must be so performed to develop and strengthen every part of the body alike. The reward which awaits those who perform ‘Surya Namaskar’ according to our instructions will be consistent joy in life which God intended for all his creations.
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Sun Salutation for Weight Loss
A 30-minute workout calorie meter – How many Calories are you burning in a 30 minute workout?
- Weight lifting = 199 calories
- Tennis = 232 calories
- Basketball = 265 calories
- Beach volleyball = 265 calories
- Football = 298 calories
- Bicycling (14 – 15.9 mph) = 331 calories
- Rock climbing = 364 calories
- Running (7.5mph) = 414 calories
- Surya Namaskar > 417 calories
Sun Salutation Calorie Calculation
It is found that one round of Sun Salutation burns up to 13.90 calories for an average weighing person. That is 12 sets X 2 rounds X 13.90 = 333.6 calories within 15 minutes
288 yoga poses within 15 minutes!
One round of Surya Namaskar consists of 12 Yoga Poses. One set consists of 2 rounds of surya namaskar. That is 1 for right side and then the other for the left side o your body. So when you do 12 sets of surya namaskar, you are completing 12 sets X 12 poses X 2 rounds = 288 Yoga Poses within 15 minutes!
Science behind Sun Salutation – Studies and Researches on Sun Salutation
- Research on the effects of Surya Namaskar on cardio-respiratory parameters by Madan Mohan:
Madan Mohan in his research showed that, in yoga group was 85.32 beats/min before the yoga training program was implemented. After 6 months of surya namaskar training it decreased to 82.42 beats. This research showed that the cardio respiratory parameters significantly changed after the practice of Surya namaskar.
- Research on the effects of Surya Namaskar on cardio-respiratory parameters in school students by Sasi Kumar, Sivapriya and Shyamala Thirumeni:
In this research heart rate decreased from 83.63 to 80.31 which is statistically significant. Scientific research has shown that yogic techniques produce consistent and beneficial physiological changes. A few weeks of disciplined yoga practice can lead to improvement in many physical and psychological functions. It is claimed that surya namaskar practice improves general health and fitness. It improves pulmonary, cardiovascular function.
- Influence of Surya Namaskar on Human Body by Siddappa Nandar and Sundar Raj- Their observations are given below:
1. Promotes balance, stimulates the respiratory system, exercises shoulder, back and neck muscles
2. Promotes balance, promotes digestion, exercises arms and shoulder muscles, tones the spine, promotes flexibility in back and hips
3. Sun salutation stimulates blood circulation, strengthens the heart, strengthens wrist and arm muscles, relieves shoulder and neck tension
4. Promotes blood circulation, tones abdominal tracts, stretches back and leg muscles, stimulates spinal nerves, stimulates lymphatic system
5. Surya Namaskar helps in strengthening your leg and arm muscles, increases flexibility in neck and shoulders, stretches arms, shoulder, neck and back muscles, exercises back muscles, releases tension in neck and shoulder.
6. Sun Salutation stimulates blood circulation to abdominal organs, tones digestive tract, also it stretches the upper and lower body, promotes flexibility in the back, stimulates nerves in spine.
Surya Namaskar Mantra | Sun Salutation Mantra
॥ ॐ ध्येयः सदा सवित्र मण्डल मध्यवर्ती नारायण सरसिजा सनसन्नि विष्टः
केयूरवान मकरकुण्डलवान किरीटी हारी हिरण्मय वपुर धृतशंख चक्रः ॥
– ॥ Aum dhyeyah sada savitra mandala madhyavartee naaraayana sarasija sanasanni vishtah
keyooravaana makarakundalavaana kireetee haaree hiranmaya vapura dhrtashankha chakrah ॥
(Always worship the Sun sitting at the centre of the solar system on Lotus, wearing Keyoor, Makarkundal, crown and holding conch, chakra and having glittering golden body.)
- ॐ मित्राय नमः। – Aum Mitraya Namah (friend by all, I bow to thee)
- ॐ रवये नमः। – Aum Ravaye Namah (Praised by all, I bow to thee)
- ॐ सूर्याय नमः। – Aum Suryaya Namah (Guide of all, I bow to thee)
- ॐ भानवे नमः। – Aum Bhanave Namah (Bestower of beauty, I bow to thee)
- ॐ खगाय नमः। – Aum Khagaya Namah (Stimulator of senses, I bow to thee)
- ॐ पुषणे नमः। – Aum Pushne Namah (Nourisher of life, I bow to thee)
- ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः। – Aum Hiranyagarbhaya Namah (Promoter of virility, I bow to thee)
- ॐ मरीचये नमः। – Aum Marichaye Namah (Destroyer of diseases, I bow to thee)
- ॐ आदित्याय नमः। – Aum Adityaya Namah (Inspirer of love, I bow to thee)
- ॐ सवित्रे नमः। – Aum Savitre Namah (Begetter of life, I bow to thee)
- ॐ अर्काय नमः। – Aum Arkaya Namah (Inspirer of awe, I bow to thee)
- ॐ भास्कराय नमः। – Aum Bhaskaraya Namah (Refulgent one, I bow to thee)
॥ आदित्यस्य नमस्कारन् ये कुर्वन्ति दिने दिने
आयुः प्रज्ञा बलम् वीर्यम् तेजस्तेशान् च जायते ॥
-॥ Adityasya namaskaran ye kurvanti dine dine
ayuḥ prajna balam viryam tejastesan cha jayate ॥
(Those who perform Soorya Namaskars daily, do not face poverty in life (health), one does not face early death or suffer from diseases.)
Surya Namaskar – Yoga Chakra and Asana
Listed below are the 12 poses and their corresponding chakra and Asanas
Pose – Chakra (Position) – Asana
- Anahata (Heart) – Ata Pranamasana
- Vishuddhi (Throat) – Hasta Uttanasana
- Swadhisthana (Sacrum) – Hastapaadasana
- Ajna (Third eye) – Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Vishuddhi (Throat) – Dandasana
- Manipura (Solar plexus) – Ashtanga Namaskara
- Swadhisthana (Sacrum) – Bhujangasana
- Vishuddhi (Throat) – Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Ajna (Third eye) – Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Swadhisthana (Sacrum )- Uttanasana
- Vishuddhi (Throat) – Hasta Uttanasana
- Anahata (Heart) – Pranamasana
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- wikipedia.org – Yoga Poses – Yajur Veda
- www.artofliving.org – Surya Namaskar
- Yoga Journal: Ashtanga Yoga by John Robben
- The Ten Point Way To Health – written by Shrimant Balasahib Pandit Pratinidhi, The Rajah of Aundh
- Influence of Surya Namaskar on Human Body by Siddappa Nandar and Sundar Raj- Research scholar , University College of physical education , Bangalore University, Bangalore. Professor , University College of physical education , Bangalore University, Bangalore.
- Surya Namaskara an expression of our gratitude to life- Revised by dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
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