Surya Namaskara

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Sculpture depicting the 12 asanas of Surya Namaskara A in Terminal T3 at IGIA Airport, New Delhi, India, created by Nikhil Bhandari.[1]
Sun Salutation practised at a public yoga event.

Surya Namaskara (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार, IPA: [suːrjɐ nəməskɐːrɐ]; IAST: Sūrya Namaskāra), or Sun Salutation, is a Yoga warm up routine based on a sequence of gracefully linked asanas.[2][3] The nomenclature refers to the symbolism of Sun as the soul and the source of all life.[4] It is relatively a modern practice that developed in the 20th century.[5]

Sūrya Namaskāra may also refer to other styles of "Sun Salutations". A yogi may develop a personalized yoga warm up routine as surya-namaskar to precede his or her asana practice.[6]



Some scholars attribute modern Surya namaskar practice to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya teachings. It includes modern day Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and the Visesha Vinyasa Sun Salutation subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Yoga,[7] as well as a host of other popular forms of yoga.[8]

Raja of Aundh[edit]

In his work The Yoga Body, Mark Singleton states Sūryanamaskāra may have been invented by Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh.[9] He adds that there is no evidence that the Sūryanamaskāra sequence was practiced prior to the early 20th century.[10] According to Alter, while Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh called the warm up routine as surya namaskar,[11] how exactly Sūrya Namaskāra came to be included in the yogic practices of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga in India remains unclear.[12]

His Holiness Meherban Shrimant Raja BHAVAN RAO SHRINIVAS 'BALA SAHIB', Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh (1868–1951; Raja of Aundh 1909-1947)[13] occupies an important position in the history of surya namaskar. He helped to popularize surya namaskar as a simple physical exercise, introducing it into schools and encouraged ordinary men to be physically fit by performing surya namaskar every day.[14] Some Western scholars classify surya namaskar as a modern physical exercise invented by Raja of Aundh.[15][16] The Raja of Aundh himself never claimed to have invented Surya Namaskar, but rather stressed an ancient origin for this procedure.[14]

Other references[edit]

Indian Navy personnel perform Surya Namaskar on board INS Sunayna on International Yoga Day 2015.

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.[17]

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms pose)

Aditya Hridayam[18][19][20] is another ancient practice which involves a verbal variation of Sūrya Namaskāra. It is a procedure of saluting The Sun, taught to Rama by Sage Agastya, before his fight with Ravana. It is described in the "Yuddha Kaanda" Canto 107 of Ramayana.


Any warm-up routine prior to a dedicated asana practice can constitute a Surya Namaskar.[6] The following lists one warm up routine for Surya Namasakar.[3] Other variations such as Surya Namasakar exist.[3]

Step Asana Breath Images Chakra Position Bīja
Sanskrit Transliteration
1 Pranamasana exhale 1Pranamasana.JPG Anahata Heart ॐ ह्रां om hrāṁ
2 Hasta Uttanasana inhale 2Urdva Hastasana.JPG Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रीं om hrīṁ
3 Hastapaadasana exhale 3Uttanasana.JPG Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रूं om hrūṁ
4 Aekpaadprasarnaasana (one foot back, lift head, hands often on earth ) inhale 4godhapitham (l‘iguane).JPG Ajna Third eye ॐ ह्रैं om hraiṁ
5 Adho Mukha Svanasana / parvatasana exhale 5adho mukha shvanasana.JPG Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रौं om hrauṁ
6 Ashtanga Namaskara suspend 6Ashtanga Namaskara.JPG Manipura Solar plexus ॐ ह्रः om hraḥ
7 Bhujangasana inhale 7urdhva mukha shvanasana.JPG Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रां om hrāṁ
8 Adho Mukha Svanasana exhale 5adho mukha shvanasana.JPG Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रीं om hrīṁ
9 Ashwa Sanchalanasana (opposite foot forward from 4, hands often on earth ) inhale 4godhapitham (l‘iguane).JPG Ajna Third eye ॐ ह्रूं om hrūṁ
10 Uttanasana exhale 3Uttanasana.JPG Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रैं om hraiṁ
11 Hasta Uttanasana inhale 2Urdva Hastasana.JPG Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रौं om hrauṁ
12 Pranamasana exhale 1Pranamasana.JPG Anahata Heart ॐ ह्रः om hraḥ


12 Surya Namaskaras are practised per cycle.[citation needed][clarification needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Indian Express (4 September 2010). Destination Delhi.
  2. ^ Carol Mitchell (2003). Yoga on the Ball. Inner Traditions. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-89281-999-7. 
  3. ^ a b c Jane MacMullen (1988). Yoga Journal: Ashtanga Yoga. September/October. Active Interest. pp. 68–70. 
  4. ^ Krishan Kumar Suman (2006). Yoga for Health and Relaxation. Lotus. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-81-8382-049-3. 
  5. ^ Mark Singleton (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 180–181, 205–206. ISBN 978-0-19-974598-2. 
  6. ^ a b Donna Schuster (1990). Yoga Journal. October-November. Active Interest. p. 57. 
  7. ^ Ramaswami 2005, p. 213-219.
  8. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 176.
  9. ^ Mark Singleton (2010), Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1, page 124
  10. ^ Mark Singleton (2010), Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1, pages 180-181, 205-206
  11. ^ Alter 2000, p. 99.
  12. ^ Alter 2004, p. 23.
  13. ^ S.P.Sen, Dictionary of National Biography; Institute of Historical Studies, Calcutta 1972 Vols.1-4; Institute of Historical Studies, vol 3, p.307
  14. ^ a b Royal India: A Descriptive and Historical Study of India's Fifteen Principal States and Their Rulers By Katherine H. Diver, Maud Diver, (year 1942)
  15. ^ Joseph S. Alter, Yoga in Modern India: the body between science and philosophy, Princeton University Press (year 2004)
  16. ^ Joseph S. Alter, Gandhi's Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism, (year 2000)
  17. ^ (Editor) Mujumdar 1950.
  18. ^ Master Murugan, Chillayah (20 October 2012). "Surya Namaskara -Puranic origins of Valmiki Ramayana". Silambam. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  19. ^, Aditya Hrudayam with English translation
  20. ^ Translation of Ramayana by Griffith


External links[edit]