Surya namaskara is a renowned and vibrant technique within the world of Yoga. It is one of the most effective methods to lead a healthy and active life and also to prepare for spiritual practices and the expansion of consciousness. Recently, instead of performing mere rituals, more people are found to be practicing yoga as a method for realizing their inner power. However, because of the fast pace of modern living, even the most determined individual find it difficult to implement yoga practice. But, practice is most important and essential for improving our physical and mental strength.
Suryanamaskara involves a complete yogic practice, containing asana, pranayama and meditational techniques. In the present world, our lifestyle creates mental tensions, worries and innumerable problems like personal interrelationships, finance, and wars. Due to the increase in technology and labour saving devices, the mental and physical ill health is also found increasing. In this situation, only a suitable remedy can bring little hope.
Yoga practices are perfect remedy to stress and they provide the basis of a powerful therapy for all kinds of mental and physical diseases. Suryanamaskara is an essential yogic practice which can be easily incorporated into our daily lives. Since it consumes only 5 to 15 minutes daily it is suitable for all kinds of people including the busy businessman, housewife, student or scientist.
Suryanamaskara rejuvenates the body and mind, and helps to eliminate diseases, but it should be practiced daily to get proper results.
The practice of Surya namaskara has been handed down from the ancient sages of the Vedic times. Literally, the word Surya means “sun” and namaskara means “Salutation”. Surya is the powerful symbol of spiritual consciousness and hence in ancient times the sun worship was a part of daily ritual. The ritual of worship of the outer and inner sun, which calms down those forces of nature beyond man’s control, was initiated by the enlightened sages of Vedic times, who realized that these practices would maintain health and improve creativity and productivity.
Three elements of form, energy and rhythm are involved in the Surya namaskara. It consists of twelve postures that create the physical matrix around which the form of the practice is intertwined. These postures generate prana, the life force, which activates our psychic body. The steady and rhythmic sequence of practice reflects the rhythms of the universe, such as the twenty four hours of the day, the twelve zodiac phases of the year, and the biorhythms of our own body. By the rhythmic superimposition of this form and energy on our body and mind, life becomes more active.
The Vedic tradition of Sun worship is one of man’s first and most natural forms of inner expression. Some form of sun worship, incorporating various solar symbols and deities, can be seen in most of the ancient traditions. However, these traditions have been well preserved in the Vedic culture only. In many parts of India, Sun worship is still practiced as a daily ritual. Ramayana illustrates Lord Rama as the king of the solar race. The ancient Vedic scriptures contain numerous hymns referring to the Sun. Few of the slokas referred in the Rig Veda have been given below.
“Up in the sky this all wise and shining God, His beams of light are bearing now That everyone the Sun may see.
Thou goes across the sky’s broad place Meeting the days with rays, O Sun, And watching generations pass.
There are seven horses riding the car, Bear up the God whose hair shines like flame O, shining God, O Sun far seen”.
“Thou art the remover of all weakness, Healer of all disease, and the Lord of all that stands and goes.
He slays the demons And guards the worshippers”.
The Suryopanishad says that those who worship the sun become powerful, active and intelligent and live a long life. The Sun is portrayed as dazzling as gold, having four arms, seated on red lotus in a chariot driven by seven horses. He sets the wheels of time in motion. From him emerge the five physical elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether and also the five senses. The Akshyopanishad recognizes Surya with Purusha having the form of the sun with thousands of rays, and shines for the well-being of mankind. Here is a famous verse form the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
“O Lord and essence of light
Lead me form the unreal to the real
From darkness to light
From death to immortality”.