Many of us have done some form of Sun Salutation in a yoga class, but not all of us know the Eastern name… Surya Namaskar! I bring this up because in many power flow classes it tends to be the part that we all want to rush through to get to “the good stuff” like arm balances. This sequence of twelve poses, however, is the foundation upon which modern yoga is built on, and should be respected as such. It can be used as a warm-up, a stretch, a cardiovascular workout in and of itself, and a way to quiet the mind. Follow along in the video below to get started!
As you get more familiar with the moves, try to link each breath to one movement. For example, inhale as you raise your hands into high prayer, and exhale as you fold into a forward-fold. Maintain this breathing rhythm throughout the twelve poses. Here’s a cheat sheet you can print out at home to help you remember the postures.
Surya Namaskar is a part of something much bigger than just a physical workout. Each movement corresponds to a chant that literally “salutes” the sun in gratitude. If you’re already feeling pretty good about that whole “one breathe, one movement” thing, try your hand at implementing the chants below! You can say them to yourself or out loud as you flow.
- Om mitraya namaha – I bow to the friend of all
- Om ravaye namaha – I bow to the shining one
- Om suryaya namaha – I bow to the one that induces activity
- Om bhanave namaha – I bow to the one who illuminates
- Om khagaya namaha – I bow to the one who moves freely in the sky
- Om pushne namaha – I bow to the giver of strength
- Om hiranya garbhaya namaha – I bow to the cosmic creator
- Om marichaye namaha – I bow to the lord of dawn
- Om adityaya namaha – I bow to the cosmic mother
- Om savitre namaha – I bow to the lord of creation
- Om arkaya namaha – I bow to he who should be praised
- Om bhaskaraya namaha – I bow to he who leads to enlightenment
There are many translations of the chants above, but this is how I learned it and internalized it.
A few notes before you go
- The ancient texts preach that one should perform 12 sets of Surya Namaskar daily
- The time before dawn is the most auspicious time of the day and hence is the best time to do this.
- Maintain a rhythm of one breath to one movement. Remember that you generally inhale as you expand your front body and exhale as you fold into yourself.
- It takes people literally a LIFETIME to master Surya Namaskar. I’ve been steadily practicing yoga for almost six years and I still learn something new everytime I practice. To my newbies: don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to catch on. To my advanced people: don’t think you’re too G to skip out on this one.
- …It was laundry day when I filmed this, so I don’t match. 😦 Don’t judge too hard, kthxbye…