Surya Namaskara: A Technique of Solar Vitalization

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Bihar School of Yoga

Surya namaskara, or sun salutations, is one of the most popular flows of yoga asana. There are perhaps as many variations as there are teachers. Many questions come up on how to do this sequence of the traditional 12 poses. Some poses are repeated in the cycle. This can be a complete yoga practice as shown by Surya Namaskara: A Technique of Solar Vitalization by Swami Satyananda.

This small book expands upon the chapter on surya namaskara in the outstanding book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, also by Swami Satyananda. Acknowledging the sun as a source of life was common to all ancient traditions.

This book gives very detailed step-by-step instructions on how to begin and flow into each of the 12 positions. It is a many layered progression. First, it is best to experience each position and become familiar and comfortable with it. There are some contraindications given. The next step is to add the breath and the flow. Once that is mastered, awareness of the psychic centers or chakras can be added. There is a mantra for each position. This mantra can be recited while doing the sequence. A meaning is given for each surya mantra. There are bija mantras, or seed sounds, for the positions as well and they have no meaning. All these sound vibrations make the practice more fluid and energizing. Each asana represents a particular mental or emotional state. Contemplation on that state can be incorporated.

Detailed explanations are given on the effect of each position on the muscles and joints, how the practice affects the vital organs, and the practice’s therapeutic effects. The author cautions that surya namaskara is not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, hernias, and intestinal tuberculosis. Slipped discs and sciatica may be aggravated. Individual positions may require modifications. For seniors, we do a chair yoga modification of the entire sequence.

This book is very helpful and many yoga teachers will find it an excellent resource.

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