Surya Namaskar (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार IPA: [suːrjə nəməskaːrə]; IAST: Sūrya Namaskāra), Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, is a practice in modern yoga incorporating a sequence of gracefully linked asanas. The nomenclature refers to the symbolism of the sun as the soul and source of all life.
Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, (1868–1951; in office 1909-1947) was closely involved in popularizing the practice, and gave it the name Surya Namaskār. The yoga researcher Mark Singleton states that the Rajah may well have invented the practice, despite the Rajah's explicit claims that it was already a commonplace Marathi tradition, not his invention. Singleton adds that there is no explicit textual evidence that Sūrya Namaskār was practiced prior to the early 20th century. The Rajah of Aundh unquestionably helped to popularize Surya Namaskār as a simple physical exercise, introducing it into schools and encouraging ordinary men to be physically fit by performing it every day.
Norman Sjoman notes that a "very old" set of exercises based on postures called dands (Sanskrit: दण्ड daṇḍā, a staff) was used by Indian wrestlers and was "probably the core of indigenous Indian exercise." These dand exercises were described in the 1896 Vyayama Dipika, and they closely resemble Surya Namaskar along with asanas it commonly contains, namely Tadasana, Padahastasana, Caturangadandasana, and Bhujangasana. Sjoman states that Tirumalai Krishnamacharya seems to have used these as the basis for his yoga vinyasas.
Some scholars have attempt to attribute modern Surya Namaskar practice to a student of Krishnamacharya, the yoga teacher K. Pattabhi Jois, who created modern day Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which uses a flowing sun salutation, and has led to other styles of Vinyasa (flowing) yoga. However, Krishnamacharya was aware of Surya Namaskar, as regular classes, not considered to be yoga, were held in the hall adjacent to his Yogasala in the Rajah of Mysore's palace; he most likely derived the use of a flowing Vinyasa style from Surya Namaskar, passing that on to Jois and other teachers including B. K. S. Iyengar, whose yoga includes it in a more restrained form.
Early English publications record some ancient methods of sun salutation; however, they do not seem to be related to the modern Sūrya Namaskāra as seen in Yoga practice today. It is widely believed in the state of Maharashtra that Shivaji Maharaj, Sage Samarth Ramdas and the Marathas have performed Sūrya Namaskāra as a physical exercise to develop able bodies.
Aditya Hridayam is another ancient practice which involves saluting the sun, taught to Rama by Sage Agastya, before his fight with Ravana. It is described in the "Yuddha Kaanda" Canto 107 of the Ramayana.
The following lists a typical Surya Namaskar cycle, but many variations are possible.
|1||Pranamasana||exhale||Anahata||Heart||ॐ ह्रां||om hrāṁ|
|2||Hasta Uttanasana||inhale||Vishuddhi||Throat||ॐ ह्रीं||om hrīṁ|
|3||Uttanasana||exhale||Swadhisthana||Sacrum||ॐ ह्रूं||om hrūṁ|
|4||Ashwasanchalana (one foot back, lift head, hands often on earth )||inhale||Ajna||Third eye||ॐ ह्रैं||om hraiṁ|
|5||Adho Mukha Svanasana||exhale||Vishuddhi||Throat||ॐ ह्रौं||om hrauṁ|
|6||Ashtanga Namaskara||suspend||Manipura||Solar plexus||ॐ ह्रः||om hraḥ|
|7||Bhujangasana||inhale||Swadhisthana||Sacrum||ॐ ह्रां||om hrāṁ|
|8||Adho Mukha Svanasana||exhale||Vishuddhi||Throat||ॐ ह्रीं||om hrīṁ|
|9||Ashwa Sanchalanasana (opposite foot forward from 4, hands often on earth )||inhale||Ajna||Third eye||ॐ ह्रूं||om hrūṁ|
|10||Uttanasana||exhale||Swadhisthana||Sacrum||ॐ ह्रैं||om hraiṁ|
|11||Hasta Uttanasana||inhale||Vishuddhi||Throat||ॐ ह्रौं||om hrauṁ|
|12||Pranamasana||exhale||Anahata||Heart||ॐ ह्रः||om hraḥ|
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