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Surya Namaskar- What’s the fuss all about?

Surya Namaskar is a sequence of 12 different postures and it can get a beginner like me huffing and panting in no time. But then, 20 minutes on a treadmill or 10 minutes of aerobics would do the same. So what’s all this fuss about Surya Namaskar. That is the first thought that comes to mind when you look at the videos of Surya Namaskar on the internet. But it’s only when you dig deeper that you realize what it actually does to your body and mind. Read on to find out the amazing things I found out about Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation.

Our Earth revolves around the Sun and it is the biggest source of energy for all living beings on the Planet. It is also one of the reasons why we have life on Earth. The ancient Indian principles revolved around being grateful to the sources of energy and environment around you. Surya- Namaskar or the Sun Salutation, as the name aptly describes, is a way to show gratitude towards the benevolent Sun. 

There are 12 different Sanskrit shlokas also that praise the Sun and are chanted during Surya-Namaskar.

1) Om Maitreya namaha (The friend of all)
2) Om Ravaye namaha (The Shining One, Praised by all)
3) Om Suryaya namaha (The eternal guide of all)
4) Om Bhanave namaha (The bestower of brightness and beauty)
5) Om Khagaya namaha (Who moves through the Sky, Stimulator of the senses)
6) Om Pushne namaha (One who nourishes and fulfills)
7) Om Hiranyagarbhaya namaha (The creator)
8) Om Marichaye namaha (Light Giver and Destroyer of disease)
9) Om Adityaya namaha (Son of Divine Mother-Aditi , The inspirer)
10) Om Savitre namaha (One who gives life, The purifier)
11) Om Arkaya namaha (The radiant one)
12) Om Bhaskaraya namaha (One who gives wisdom, The illuminator)
Now let’s look at the physical aspects of this popular asana. Basically the asana consists of 12 different postures which are performed sequentially. The figure below depicts these 12 positions.

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The combination of these poses in Surya-Namaskar is known to have many physical benefits. For instance, it improved digestion, stimulates the respiratory system and blood circulation, improves flexibility of muscles, tones the body, increases overall physical wellness. It also keeps the body energized throughout the day.  The fact that it also helps to shed the extra kilos is just an added advantage. If you take a closer look at the various postures of this Asana, you would realize that it includes almost every part of the body and thus has an impact on all of them. However, it is not all about odd-looking poses. The secret lies in synchronizing the physical actions with your breathing. In fact, Yoga lays a lot of emphasis on breathing and has asanas (exercises) that focus only on breathing. As a ground rule, one should inhale when the body stretches or expands and exhale when it compresses.

But that’s just the first level of this profound phenomenon. If you delve deeper into the subject, you would realize that Surya-Namaskar connects your second-brain which is supposed to be located in your navel to the Sun thereby enhancing your intellect. Incorporating Surya-Namaskar in daily exercise scheme is known to help gain immense mental and spiritual wellness. 

Surya-Namaskar and Yoga Novice

Having discussed the various physical and not so physical aspects of Surya-Namaskar, it has been sufficiently established that it is the epitome of physical exercise and also has hidden spiritual benefits. But it comes with some inherent terms and conditions and can be very daunting for a beginner. It would also be very tempting to quit in the first few days and move to other forms of exercise that give instant results. So here are some helpful tips for Yoga Novices like me to stick to the routine and benefit in the long run.

Though there is plethora of videos available on the internet, it’s good to practice it with an experienced Guru. That applies for Yoga as a whole. Being with a Guru will help you do the asanas the exact right way.

  • Surya-Namaskar is not skin-deep. It has some very profound effects and it takes time to show results. Patience is the key word here.
  • One step at a time. Your body which might not be used to any physical exertion will repel at first. It will hurt and ache and the temptation to quit will surface quite often.
  • But No short-cuts. If the left leg has to be stretched out till it feels completely taut, do it that way even if it hurts a little. Train the body.
  • Challenge yourself and enjoy. The pleasure and contentment of doing something for the first time is very rewarding.

I do not claim to be an expert of the subject. But I have a genuine interest in Yoga and believe that it can touch your lives in more than one way. Surya-Namaskar has always been one of my favourite asanas and it gives me immense satisfaction. When my friends ask me “what’s the fuss about Surya-Namaskar”, I just smile. Because it is not something which can be explained in words. It is not just an act but an experience.

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