Known in Sanskrit as the Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutations awaken the deep fire of purification that cleanses the body and the mind. There are many variations –Classical, Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B. Through my yoga journey since 2010, I have been practising the classical version of Surya Namaskara every morning before sunrise. For me it was an easy and inexpensive method to stay in proper shape whilst doing stretches as I have a tendency to put on weight easily and adding a glow on my face making me radiant and staying young always. However, through my learning journey with Master Paalu and Master Satya Chong Wei Ling, I have realised there is so much more to it.
“Sthira sukham asanam”, which translates to mean that asanas should be steady, stable and calm. Through their explanations based on the teachings of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, I realised that while there are 840,000 poses, the Surya Namaskara forms the basis of all yoga poses especially that of backbends, hip openers and powerful handstands. The entire yoga practice is contained with the format of the 12 step sequence which essentially is made of seven fundamental poses. I am now exposed to the variations in Surya Namaskara A and B as well where I also learned the application of Mula Bandha and Uddiayana Bandha. Now, I do not just approach the floor but rather initiate every movement from the power deep within my pelvis where each breath represents one side of the shifting pendulum between turning outward and inward. Thus instead of performing it as a memorized rote physical activity, I have cultivated an attitude of appreciation in each practice and with each breath. Nowdays, I maintain conscious attention to the fundamentals so that I can integrate all aspects of my practice. From this basic model, I realise it is the key to advanced postures. Whenever I cannot do an advanced pose, I look to the Surya Namaskara for hints on how my movement pattern may be inefficient. Besides this, I became more aware of the health benefits from head to toe, such as loosening the joints, stretching the spine, increasing blood circulation, massaging internal organs, increasing lymphatic circulation and much more. More importantly what intrigued me immensely is the quality of fire which brings mental clarity to me and an inward focus where now I draw my senses towards the subtle body and tune in the present moment. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, all our emotions get stored in the solar plexus, and it is also the point from where one’s gut feelings arise. The size of the solar plexus is said to like the size of a small gooseberry. However, for those who do yoga and meditation, it becomes much bigger – almost three to four times bigger than the normal size. The more expanded your solar plexus, the greater is your mental stability and your intuition. As the sun connects to the pingala nadi, regular practice of Surya Namaskar balances the energy level in the body. Thus from a more physical practice it is now one of a balanced and meditative mind creating equanimity between the opposing forces of flexion and extension, enabling me to release my tensions and anxieties enabling me to move into a new space with each breath. I truly am blessed to have understood the benefits of Surya Namaskara understanding in my journey I will keep learning and will be thrilled to share this knowledge with others to inspire them to practice this in their daily lives.