Surya Namaskar (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार IAST: Sūrya Namaskār), Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, is a practice in modern yoga incorporating a sequence of some twelve gracefully linked asanas. The asana sequence is first recorded in the early 20th century. The basic sequence involved moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, but many variations are possible.
Etymology and origins
The asana sequence is first recorded in the early 20th century. Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, (1868–1951; in office 1909-1947) popularized and named the practice, and may well have invented it, despite his claim that it was already a commonplace Marathi tradition. Norman Sjoman suggested that Krishnamacharya used the traditional Indian wrestlers' exercises called dands (Sanskrit: दण्ड daṇḍ, a staff), described in the 1896 Vyayama Dipika, as the basis for the sequence and for his yoga vinyasas. Different dands closely resemble the Surya Namaskar asanas Tadasana, Padahastasana, Caturanga Dandasana, and Bhujangasana. Krishnamacharya was aware of Surya Namaskar, as regular classes, not then considered to be yoga, were held in the hall adjacent to his Yogasala in the Rajah of Mysore's palace. His students K. Pattabhi Jois, who created modern day Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and B. K. S. Iyengar, who created Iyengar Yoga, both learnt Surya Namaskar and flowing vinyasa movements between asanas from Krishnamacharya and used them in their styles of yoga.
Surya Namaskar is a sequence of around twelve asanas connected by jumping or stretching movements, varying somewhat between schools. In Iyengar Yoga, the basic sequence is Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Uttanasana with head up, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Caturanga Dandasana, and then reversing the sequence to return to Tadasana; other poses can be inserted into the sequence. In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, the type 1 sequence is Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Anjaneyasana, Dandasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Virabhadrasana I.
A typical Surya Namaskar cycle is:
2: Hasta Uttanasana
12: back to 1
11. Hasta Uttanasana
5. Adho Mukha Svanasana
6. Ashtanga Namaskara
8. Adho Mukha
Many variations are possible. For example, In Iyengar Yoga the sequence may run Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Lolasana, Janusirsasana (one side, then the other), and reversing the sequence from Adho Mukha Svanasana to return to Tadasana. Other asanas that may be inserted into the sequence include Navasana (or Ardha Navasana), Paschimottanasana and its variations, and Marichyasana I.
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