You might have heard the story of Hanuman and Surya who initially didn’t start off on a good foot with each other. When Hanuman was very young he confused the sun (Surya) with a big mango and had nearly eaten him if it wasn’t for Lord Indra’s intervention. Long story short, in the end Surya accepted Hanuman as a student, taught him about the ancient Vedas and released his student without demanding a fee. In return, Hanuman could only offer his gratitude and namaskars (respectful greetings). And so the Surya Namaskar series was born as Hanuman’s guru dakshina to Surya.
Historically and in many other cultures, humans have been worshipping the sun, the ultimate teacher, the one who illuminates the sky and shines light into our heart and soul.
The Benefits of Surya Namaskara
Surya namaskara is one of the most complete practices of hatha yoga. The primary intention of this series of poses is to awaken the energy of the sun that normally lies dormant at the navel centre. Surya namaskara allows us to reach deep into our solar plexus and awaken and circulate the sun’s healing power to restore a radiant body and cultivate a clear, calm, and tranquil mind. With a couple of cycles of the sun salutation (traditionally 12 rounds), regularly applied, you can reap many of its benefits for body and mind:
- Stimulate agni or your digestive fire and may aid in weight loss
- Energize the nervous system for more clarity and focus
- Balance the endocrine system and improves moods and emotional stability
- Harmonize the energy flow throughout the body connecting the lower and upper extremities
Like other classic yoga asanas, the surya namaskara is a way to enter the subtle body, allowing us to tap into our innate healing powers, increase vitality, and accelerate the process of rejuvenation. To derive all these benefits, however, we must take the practice beyond stretching. The spiritual dimension of surya namaskara is much more profound and fulfilling than the physical level of practice alone. When both the physical and spiritual aspects are strung together, the practice becomes Sutra Yoga – the kind of practice intended by masters like Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutra. A Sutra Yoga style of the sun salutation strings together (sutra) body, breath, mind, and soul with the healing and nurturing forces of the sun, and infuses life with serenity and inner awakening. In this way, the sun salutation becomes a complete practice of yoga, meditation, and spirituality.
This article is written by our in-house teacher Gwendolyn Wregar who has been practicing different styles of yoga on and off the mat for the last 10 years.
With her background in natural health and massage therapy she finds that yoga is a wonderful way of looking after one’s health and well-being. One of Gwen’s goals is to encourage others to find more balance in their lives, to feel more fulfilled and connected to themselves and the world around.
Join Gwen for an invigorating morning class and indulge in the glorious benefits of the Sun Salutations.
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