Surya Namaskar (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार IAST: Sūrya Namaskār), Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, is a practice in yoga as exercise incorporating a sequence of some twelve gracefully linked asanas. The asana sequence was first recorded as yoga in the early 20th century, though similar exercises were in use in India before that, for example among wrestlers. The basic sequence involves moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, but many variations are possible. The set of 12 asanas is dedicated to the Hindu God Surya. In some Indian traditions, the positions are each associated with a different mantra.
Etymology and origins
Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, (1868–1951; in office 1909-1947) popularized and named the practice, and it has been asserted that he invented it, but Pant stated that it was already a commonplace Marathi tradition.
The yoga scholar-practitioner Norman Sjoman suggested that Krishnamacharya used the traditional and "very old" 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, since 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.
The historian of modern yoga Elliott Goldberg writes that Vishnudevananda's 1960 book Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga "proclaimed in print" a "new utilitarian conception of Surya Namaskar" which his guru Sivananda had originally promoted as a health cure through sunlight. Goldberg notes that Vishnudevananda modelled the positions of Surya Namaskar for photographs in the book, and that he recognised the sequence "for what it mainly is: not treatment for a host of diseases but fitness exercise."
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, Chaturanga 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[b] Surya Namaskar cycle is:
2: Hasta Uttanasana
12: back to 1
11. Hasta Uttanasana
5. Adho Mukha Svanasana
6. Ashtanga Namaskara
8. Adho Mukha
In some yoga traditions, each step of the sequence is associated with a mantra.
|Step (Asana)||Mantra (name of Surya)||Translation|
|Tadasana||Om mitraye namah||(affectionate to all)|
|Urdhva Hastasana||Om ravaye namah||(cause of all changes)|
|Padahastasana||Om suryaye namah||(who induces all activity)|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana||Om bhanave namah||(who diffuses light)|
|Parvatasana||Om khagaye namah||(who moves in the sky)|
|Ashtanga Namaskara||Om pushne namah||(who nourishes all)|
|Bhujangasana||Om hiranya garbhe namah||(who contains everything)|
|Parvatasana||Om marichyaye namah||(who possesses raga)|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana||Om adityaye namah||(God of Gods)|
|Padahastasana||Om savitre namah||(who produces everything)|
|Urdhva Hastasana||Om arkaye namah||(fit to be worshipped)|
|Tadasana||Om bhaskaraye namah||(cause of lustre)|
|Step (Asana)||Bījā mantra||Chakra||Breathing|
|Tadasana||ॐ ह्रां Om Hrāṁ||Anahata (heart)||exhale|
|Urdhva Hastasana||ॐ ह्रीं Om Hrīṁ||Vishuddhi (throat)||inhale|
|Padahastasana||ॐ ह्रूं Om Hrūṁ||Swadhisthana (sacrum)||exhale|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana||ॐ ह्रैं Om Hraiṁ||Ajna (third eye)||inhale|
|Parvatasana||ॐ ह्रौं Om Hrauṁ||Vishuddhi (throat)||exhale|
|Ashtanga Namaskara||ॐ ह्रः Om Hraḥ||Manipura (solar plexus)||suspend|
|Bhujangasana||ॐ ह्रां Om Hrāṁ||Swadhisthana (sacrum)||inhale|
|Parvatasana||ॐ ह्रीं Om Hrīṁ||Vishuddhi (throat)||exhale|
|Ashwa Sanchalanasana||ॐ ह्रूं Om Hrūṁ||Ajna (third eye)||inhale|
|Padahastasana||ॐ ह्रैं Om Hraiṁ||Swadhisthana (sacrum)||exhale|
|Urdhva Hastasana||ॐ ह्रौं Om Hrauṁ||Vishuddhi (throat)||inhale|
|Tadasana||ॐ ह्रः Om Hraḥ||Anahata (heart)||exhale|
Many variations are possible. For example, In Iyengar Yoga the sequence may intentionally be varied to 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.
The scholar of religion Shreena Niketa Gandhi notes that some Christians in America, such as St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Minnesota, name the asana sequence "Son Salutation", transferring the object of devotion from Surya (God of the sun) to Jesus (the son of God), in a practice they call "Yogadevotion".
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